Fixing Windows 8, part 1: mimic Windows 7 and run Windows 8 apps from the desktop

As annoying as I find the Windows 8 GUI itself by far the most annoying thing is that Microsoft could have quickly addressed the tsunami of complaints simply by buying technology from these two utility outfits, Start8 and ModernMix.

This tutorial covers:

  • Installing Start8 to restore the Windows 7 layout and Start Button/WMenu, though without the translucent Aero effects.
  • Disable hot corners and the Windows key shortcut to the Windows 8 start screen to avoid accidentally winding up there.
  • Eliminate the tiresome Windows 8 lock screen to get to the login window.
  • Install ModernMix to run Windows 8 apps from the Windows-7-style desktop and taskbar.
  • Bringing back Solitaire to the desktop.

Start8 and ModernMix cost $4..99 each, though both have a 30-day free trial period.  There are free alternatives to Start8 but it lets you configure other options.   Comfort with Registry editing is required to eliminate the lock screen.  You need access to a Windows 7 computer to get the desktop version of Solitaire.

First, get the basic Windows 7 look-and-feel back:

  1. Download and install Start8.
  2. In the main Start 8 menu select Style->Windows 7 Theme.
  3. In the main Start 8 menu select Desktop->Disable all Windows 8 hot corners.
  4. In the main Start 8 menu select Control and under “What should happen when I press the right Windows key”  uncheck “Show the Windows 8 menu…”.
  5. Exit Start8 and checkout what’s in “All Programs” on the Start Menu!

Now to eliminate the lock screen:

  1. Open a command window and enter “regedit”.  It may have to be run in  in “Run as Admistrator” mode . Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows just as you navigate the filesystem in Windows Explorer.
  2. Enter a new key by right-clicking on the Windows “folder”, select New, then select Key, and rename the “folder” that appears Personalization.  Double-check the spelling and capitalization!
  3. Create a new value for Personalization.  Right-click in the right window and select New->DWORD (32-bit) Value. Rename it NoLockScreen. Double-check the spelling and capitalization!
  4. In the right window double-click on NoLockScreen and enter the value 1 in the dialog.
  5. Close regedit and reboot.  You should be taken directly to the login screen.

Finally, enable Windows 8 apps to run in Desktop mode.

  1. Install ModernMix.  You have to enter an email address to get the download link.
  2. In the main ModernMix menu select General and under “When launched from the Windows 8 Start Menu” selected rightmost one, windowed mode.
  3. In the main ModernMix menu select Advanced and under “Return to the Windows 8 menu” select “Never return to the Windows 8 menu”.
  4. Close ModernMix.

I don’t know Microsoft didn’t do it this way with apps to start with.  It’s the way things work on the Mac and just fine.

Remember you have to pay for the utilities within 30 days.