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

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.



Windows 8 4

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.



Windows 8 1

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.



Windows 8 2

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.



Windows 8 5

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…

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