Windows 8 represented a radical shift for Microsoft. The controversial operating system was arguably the most significant change in the Windows’ user interface since the introduction of Windows 95 nearly 18 years ago. Microsoft claims that the new “Modern UI” (f.k.a “Metro”) lays the groundwork for the future of touch-based computing, but those still working with desktop and non-touch-enabled laptops often prefer the traditional Desktop interface.
The Desktop has been available since the launch of Windows 8 last fall, but those booting into Windows had to stop at the Start Screen first, adding a minor but frustrating stop for users who wanted only a more “traditional” Windows experience. Thankfully, with the forthcoming Windows 8.1 update, users can now choose to boot directly to the Desktop and bypass the Modern UI experience entirely. Here’s how to enable the boot to desktop functionality as of the latest Windows 8.1 Preview.
To configure Windows 8.1 to boot to the desktop, first launch the Desktop from the Start Screen. Next, right-click on an empty portion of the Taskbar and choose “Properties.”
In the Taskbar Properties window, click the “Navigation” tab and check the box “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in.”
Now, when you first boot your computer or log in to your user account, you’ll wind up directly on the Desktop without having to stop at the Start Screen. A Modern UI approach may be the future of computing, but for users who still work best in a traditional desktop environment, this new option in Windows 8.1 is a great change.
If you can’t wait a few months for the public launch of Windows 8.1, and you don’t want to take the risk of running the Windows 8.1 Public Preview, you can use third-party software to get the same boot to desktop functionality in the standard Windows 8. Two options are Skip Metro Suite, a free simple app that can skip the Start Screen and disable hot corners, and Start8 ($4.99), which not only allows users to skip the Start Screen, but also restores a complete Windows 7-like Start Menu.