Microsoft has not offered this as an option to us, but with a few easy steps we will outline below how we can make Windows 8 look like the way most people want it to look like.
The Windows 8 Interface Problem
Windows 8.1 is coming and it will have a Start Button. Except it’s not a Start Button! It is a Metro Button to sling you right back into the Windows 8 tile-based user interface! One can only imagine the frustration of average users finally managing to get away from the tile-based environment, finally seeing the familiarity of Desktop… only to click on the Windows 8.1 Start Button out of habit, and find out the hard way that it has been placed there to catapult them right back into the Metro interface they tried to escape from.
Although many tech-savvy users actually like Windows 8 interface, it is difficult to ignore the sheer number of average users who describe Windows 8 as “confusing” (or worse).
Microsoft’s Chief Marketing and Financial Officer Tami Reller recently referred to Windows 8.1 as “an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to.” Yet Windows 8.1 preview shows us that Microsoft has again made a choice to not give customers something they’ve been asking for since Windows 8 was in its testing phase: an option, just an option, to boot into Desktop with a real Start Button and a real Start Menu, while also keeping the option to activate the tile-based Windows 8 user interface with a single click.
Analysts have been using the phrase “…if Windows 8.1 is received poorly by consumers…” as if the reception can be expected to be different, given what happened after Windows 8 launch when customers started to return their purchases to exchange Windows 8 machines for Windows 7 machines, just to get their Start Button and Start Menu back. Businesses today do not hesitate to take advantage of ‘downgrading’ their Windows 8 licenses to actually install older Windows 7 so they will be able to avoid Windows 8 interface and boot into the Desktop environment which they find more conducive for business.
When buying new computers, businesses purchase computers that come preloaded with Windows 8 licenses and install a previous version of Windows without buying separate licenses. Therefore, when you hear that Microsoft “sold” 100 million Windows 8 licenses, that doesn’t mean 100 million machines are running the Windows 8 operating system.
Classic Shell – Customize Windows 8 to Look Like Windows 7
Before choosing to ‘downgrade’ to Windows 7, consider this: You can easily and quickly have a Windows 7-looking Windows 8 – without giving up any of the features of Windows 8 – which you can activate with a single click, or choose never to use if you dislike them. And you can do this for free.
Classic Shell freeware gives average users everything they dreamed Windows 8 would be. It is so popular that impostors have set up web sites, infringed on the trademark of this freeware, violated their copyrighted skins and started selling this free software for $20!
The true free download location for Classic Shell freeware is still on Sourceforge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/classicshell/files/
Classic Shell is older and more customizable than other pay-for solutions which mushroomed to meet the demand for Start Button – Start Menu – Desktop based Windows 8.
You can turn Windows 8 into an operating system that boots into Desktop complete with a real Start Button and a real Start Menu. As a bonus, by simply holding SHIFT when you click on the Start Menu button, you can return to Windows 8 Metro user interface, which you never have to do, and thus never see the original Windows 8 interface if it bothers you.
Classic Shell – Real Start Button and Menu
When you power on your computer, if all you wish to do is boot into Desktop with a real Start Button and a real Start Menu, simply select for Custom Setup and have Classic Start Menu installed:
Classic Shell – Disabling “Charms”
If you wish to disable Charms, simply do this in Classic Shell options: Windows 8 Settings TAB > Disable active corners > All > OK
What is Charms? In Windows 8, you will see multiple icons pop up when your mouse cursor accidentally hovers across the right corner of your screen, or if you accidentally swipe the touch pad of your laptop. Windows Charms is liked by some tech-savvy users because it gives Windows 8 a “clean” look. It is strongly disliked by Average Joe for functionality reasons – various functions are only exposed by pointing at invisible hotspots. Charms would tend to appear out of nowhere while Joe is frantically working to meet a work deadline. Joe would suddenly see Windows 8 popping up icons on his screen, preventing him from seeing the work he is trying to complete. Because he accidentally hovered his mouse cursor over the part of the screen that Windows 8 has appropriated for the Charms Bar, Joe is greeted with a launch pad he never asked for.
Charms is also a good example of how difficult it can be to justify the advantages of the new Windows 8 Graphical User Interface. Proponents struggle to answer the following question: What if you have to Reboot/Shut Down a Windows 8 machine? Do you hover your mouse *carefully* in the corner, hoping to Fish-In the “Charms” pop-up, only to have to carefully scroll down to Settings thereafter, making sure that Charms doesn’t disappear? Doesn’t it take a bit of time after that for your eye to locate the Power button to only then bring up the menu to be able to perform the Reboot/Shut Down process? Why is that better than having a Start Menu button from which you can accomplish this particular example with two clicks, as Classic Shell freeware once again allows us to do?
Classic Shell – Other Options
For optional further modifications:
- Classic Shell allows you to choose to have a Start Menu style of your choice: Classic, Windows XP or Vista/Windows 7 style
- Classic Shell allows you to set a custom Start Button: Right click on Start Menu > Settings > All Settings > Start Button > Button Image
- See our own forum for some buttons users have created or visit Classic Shell forum to see interesting custom Start Buttons. Or you can even create your own Start Button as long as it is a single .bmp or .png image of three different buttons: top, middle, and bottom button depicting normal, hover, and pressed button style.
- You can choose which special items to place in your Start Menu, such as Favorites and Log Off. You can choose not to have particular special items like Help and Support, User documents or User pictures by simply selecting “Don’t display this item”.
- Skin TAB allows you to select Large Font for clearer display.
- Most importantly, Windows 8 Settings TAB allows you to disable Charms pop up screen by simply selecting: Disable active corners > All > OK
The Problem With Windows 8, and The Classic Shell Solution
Upon first installing Windows 8, some experienced business users got a tingly feeling of anger in their stomachs over how sadistic Chief Microsoft Developers must have been to approve a Windows 8 GUI project which makes users literally jump through Circus Hoops of Windows 8 Charms option screens every single time they simply try to Shut Down or Reboot their machines.
Given a choice today, most, if not all of us would find that if we asked average people what they would want, more than 50% of average users would choose to boot into Desktop, not boot into Windows 8 GUI a.k.a. Metro. By definition, therefore, the majority of people would choose to boot into Desktop with a real Start Button and a real Start Menu. They would like Metro to be something they can launch or even something that can be set up as a default option, but not something that should be the one and only default option.
Luckily, Classic Shell freeware allows us to remove that most common complaint against Windows 8, which lies at the heart of the slower-than-expected Windows 8 uptake.