Microsoft’s Embarrassing Change To Windows 8

Becky Worley
Special Contributor, Yahoo! Tech
Upgrade Your Life


Microsoft’s new operating system has not been well received, and they may be planning to change some fundamental pieces – like reinstating the missing start button and getting you to your desktop as soon as you boot up. But in the meantime, I’ll show you how to fix Windows 8’s biggest annoyances right now.

First the rumors: Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet reports the update to Microsoft Windows 8 (code named Blue) that will release in August of 2013 may include a start button.  The little icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen has been an anchor of navigation for many, over years of Windows use, and they feel lost without it.

But if Microsoft succumbs to pressure and returns it to the operating system, it probably won’t be your classic start button, more like an icon in the same place as the original, which will take you to the Metro UI Start Screen of tiles.

Another rumor is that users will have the option to bypass that start screen on boot up and go directly to the Desktop. Foley reports this may not be baked into the update, but an option you can choose. At present, the only way to boot to the desktop is a pretty complicated set of instructions to schedule a task on boot up that takes you to the desktop or download a German program that “makes a few changes to the Windows 8 licensing system” according to the developer, not something most users are comfortable doing.

So in lieu of waiting for the update from Microsoft here are some tips to fix the biggest annoyances now:

Add a Start Button

The easiest way to bring back Start is to download a free program called Classic Shell. It adds a slightly modified icon to the lower left corner. When you click on it, a standard set of Windows menus opens up.  You can also customize Windows Explorer to be more like Windows XP or Windows 7.

Boot Straight to the Desktop (kind of)

As I mentioned earlier, there is no elegant way to boot straight to the desktop, but one thing to consider is that all your standard keyboard shortcuts work in Windows 8. So as soon as you hit that start screen with the tiles, hold down the windows key on your keyboard and hit “D.” it takes you immediately to the desktop.

If you haven’t used keyboard shortcuts in the past, the navigation challenges of Windows 8 make these tricks all the more useful:

·      Windows+E opens Windows Explorer

·      Alt + Tab toggles between open programs

·      Windows+ I opens settings

The Touchpad Or Mouse Is Making You Crazy, Right?

Windows 8 was designed for touchscreen interfaces, and it works pretty well when you are manipulating items on the screen. Microsoft even built in some gestures you can use that help navigate quicker and more efficiently with touch. Unfortunately, they don’t translate well to the mouse or touchpad. For example, if you swipe from the left edge of the touchpad, it automatically switches to another open application. So you’re trying to move the cursor over something on the far left edge of a web page when suddenly Microsoft Excel pops up, that’s what’s going on – UGHHHHH! Equally frustrating – if you swipe from the right side of the touchpad, your movement brings the charms bar onto the page.  Equally UGHHHHH!

Fortunately, you can disable this gesture. From the desktop hit Windows + I, Change PC settings, General, Turn off  the button for “When I swipe from the left edge, switch directly to my most recent app.”

[Related: Why Your Next Laptop Won’t Just Be a Laptop]

If you have a tip to fix some of Windows 8’s biggest annoyances post them on our Facebook Page.

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