Saturday, April 4, 2015

How To Make Windows 8.1 Look And Feel More Like Windows 7.

Many PC users who transitioned from Microsoft Windows XP > Windows Vista > Windows 7 were shocked when they purchased a new PC with Windows 8. The familar Desktop and Start Menu had been abandoned in favor of a new Start Screen with touch friendly tiles - initially called Metro and now called Modern. Microsoft was attempting to merge their OS interface to accommodate Tablets and Desktops. The Enterprise customers, predictably, decided to stick with Windows 7 avoiding a major retraining initiative. The blowback from users prompted an update - Windows 8.1. This was an attempt to ameliorate and bring back some of the missing features that would appease the long time Desktop users.

You have to admire Microsoft for their efforts. No doubt, the merging of Mobile and Desktop Operating Systems is the wave of the future. Perhaps their timing was a little off target. In spite of the fact that Android and IOS dominate the Smartphone Market, the Windows Phone OS interface is excellent. It is unique, easy to use, inexpensive and runs well on minimal hardware. So, why has it not been successful? The lack of quality, well supported Apps has been a major obstacle to it's widespread adoption.


Nevertheless, if you have purchased a new computer with Windows 8.1 and you would prefer the look and feel of Windows 7 try these simple tips.

  1. Boot to the Desktop - When you start your computer it goes to the Start Screen - Tile Interface, but you want it to go to the Desktop - like Windows 7. To change this behavior, right click on the toolbar at the bottom of your desktop, then click properties, navigation, and check the box that says "When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start." Reboot and you are good to go. You can always get back to the Start Screen by clicking on the Windows Flag Key on your keyboard.
  2. Show Applications when You click the Start Menu Button - In previous versions of Windows, clicking on the Start Button would open a Start Menu from which you could view and run any of your installed programs. By default, the Start Button now takes you to the Windows 8 Modern Start Screen. Go to the desktop and right click on the taskbar – click "Properties". Go to the "Navigation" tab. Within the navigation area, find the "Start Screen" section below and check the box: "Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start". If you wish to see your desktop applications listed before your Windows 8 apps, also check the box entitled: "List Desktop apps first in the Apps view when it’s sorted by category". Your Start Button will now display a list of apps instead of the default Windows 8 Tile Start Screen.
  3. Bring back the Start Menu - The Windows 7 style Start Menu has been one of the most requested Windows 8.1 ommisions. Tapping the Start Button would reveal your installed software and a set of cascading menus. There are many third party applications that will do the trick. A nice free option that you may want to try is Classic Shell. A second option - Stardock's - Start8 is not free, but at at $4.99 it will not "break the bank". Of the two, I prefer Start8. I have used it successfully on disparate hardware and the product is very well supported.


Finally, if you continue to be unhappy with Windows 8.1, stay tuned - Windows 10 (Microsoft skipped 9) is coming in the summer of 2015. The good news is, if you are upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1, it will be free to consumers.