Microsoft Windows 8 - The Desktop: Win 8 Can Be ‘Win 7’

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On

the Start screen, you’ll find one tile that’s different to all the

others and is exclusive to the X86 rather than RT version of Windows 8.

It doesn’t give you access to an app, shortcut, widget or ‘folder’.

Rather, it brings Windows 8 as close as Microsoft’s newest OS gets to

the Windows 7 of old. Appropriately, it’s called Desktop.


The Desktop You Know and Love in Win8

The

moment you press Desktop, it’s as if you’re thrown back into the

Windows 7 you may be feeling quite nostalgic about at this stage. It’s

all there: a traditional desktop with your old friend the Recycle Bin,

traditional folders and shortcuts you can place anywhere on the desktop,

the wallpaper of your choice, the semi-transparent taskbar to which you

can pin programs and which shows active programs – even the

customisable icons, time and date in the task-bar’s right-hand side.


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Right-clicking

here also brings up the familiar menu with View, Screen Resolution,

Personalise and the like. Even Aero Peek and minimise all open programs

still hide in the small far right corner of the toolbar. It’s like you

never left.

The

only things that are missing are the pervasive transparency effects of

Aero, leaving the bars of windows disconcertingly solid. Oh, and the

Start button. So where has all that button’s precious functionality

gone? Worry not, it’s all still there, somehow or other.


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Want

to search? The Charm Bar (that name just makes us want to shoot

somebody – maybe whoever came up with the name?) is still there, just

like it is in Windows 8’s Start screen. An even better option is going

down to the bottom-left corner and, when the Start screen ‘button’

appears, simply right-clicking on it. This will bring up a menu with an

absolute wealth of options.

From

Task/Device Manager to the Command Prompt, Control Panel and Run, most

of the options of the old Start button can be found here. Unfortunately,

there are still a few missing. Perhaps the most crucial is Computer,

which gives you quick access to all your storage. But you can get it

back.


Windows 8 Can Be ‘Windows 7’

To

get Computer on the Start Screen, access Computer through Windows

Explorer. Right-click on Computer in the menu to the left and select Pin

to Start. Next, to get it into Desktop, right-click anywhere, go to

Personalize, click Change Desktop Icons, and tick Computer. Dragging the

icon this creates on the Desktop to the Taskbar lets you pin it to

Windows Explorer, meaning you’re there with a simple right-click.


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This

is far from the only way to get Windows 7 features back on your Windows

8 Desktop. There are plenty of command line, registry and other simple

hacks that will get the features back, as well as a slew of apps like

Start8, ViStart, MetroUI Tweaker, Classic Shell, StartMenu7, and more,

with many doubtless on the way.

All

of which begs the question: why didn’t Microsoft just include a way for

the user to easily configure this for themselves? Well, because it

wants you to go with the revolution, and upgrade to touch, and start

using (s)Metro(/s) Windows 8’s tile interface. Then you’ll want smoothly

compatible Windows Store apps, from which Microsoft will make a ton of

money – essentially, it’s the Apple approach, and it’s the nature of the

beast.


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What’s

important to remember is that, if you want to (with a little effort or

some third-party software), you can spend your entire Windows 8 time in

Desktop mode, without ever seeing its tile interface. Just don’t count

on this working if you want the latest software down the line…