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I just bought a new Windows 8 laptop, but I want to get rid of the new "Modern UI" Start Screen, and get the old Start Menu back. How do I do this?

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Good question (+1) but can you say why? I don't think it's going away in Windows (it's obvious if you have a Windows Phone or Xbox). I don't know about disabling the Win8 Start Screen, but it stopped frustrating me so much once i realized that it's really similar to Win7... if you think of it as a full-screen Win7 Start Menu. The desktop is there, you just have to switch the Win8 "Start Menu/Screen" to the background. (Yeah, Metro vs. older apps is twitchy, and there are other oddities.) I could be off on this, but that's how i'm easing into it. –  bill weaver Aug 21 '12 at 20:27
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oh, i see. I have this ... trepidation about how the people i support are going to react to the goodness of Win8. It is the future and they must adapt, but am wondering how to make that easier for them. So anyhow your question got me curious about why you'd want to hide it. Trying to get prepare for the whining. :) –  bill weaver Aug 22 '12 at 16:00
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How is it possible you purchased a "Windows 8" laptop when they are not even being sold yet? Its not possible to have the "old" Start Menu back, the artwork and all code was removed from Windows 8, all you can do add a replacement Start Menu. –  Ramhound Aug 23 '12 at 11:36
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(-1) as I feel that this question isn't going to be that useful. The new modern UI (metro) is a major change and an integral one to Windows 8. If you really want to get rid of it then don't install Windows 8 and use Windows 7 instead. With as integral of a piece this is, any solutions IMO are going to be hackish at best and even possibly a security risk. –  KronoS Aug 28 '12 at 15:37
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@KronoS that's your opinion, and you're welcome to feel that way. Inevitably though, people are going to want to do this. It might be a bad idea. I don't intend to do it, and wouldn't advise someone to do it, but it will easily be one of the most-asked questions about Windows 8. If you'd like to write an answer that goes more the route of "here's how to cope with Metro without disabling it", go for it. –  nhinkle Aug 28 '12 at 16:53
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8 Answers

up vote 76 down vote accepted

In Windows 8 (from the Consumer Preview up to the final release), there is no known way built-in to disable the new "Modern" UI.

If you feel comfortable using third-party programs and hacks to get rid of (or minimize the use of) Modern UI, you can try:

  1. Start8, which will give you a start menu (you can choose between a Windows 7-style start menu or a Modern start menu) and allow you to bypass the Modern UI Start Screen altogether, but it won't altogether disable Modern UI, since you'll still be able to access the charms bar and the Modern UI task switcher.

  2. You can use this Classic Shell skin to get a close-enough replica of the Windows 7 Start Menu. This will not disable any part of Modern UI, nor will it boot you directly into the Desktop, but it will give you a Windows 7-style start button and menu.

  3. If you would like to do away completely with Modern UI, you can use this trick, which allows you to use the Windows 7 shell (explorer.exe) in place of the Windows 8 shell. This option will send you right back to the Windows 7 experience, but remember to read the "please read" section of that post to know just what you're getting yourself into.

  4. You can use the Group Policy editor to disable the new lock screen. This won't let you use the Windows 7 or XP login screens, but it will allow you to skip the lock ("drag up to unlock") screen, and be sent straight to the screen where you enter your password.

In Windows 8.1, though, there are a few more built-in ways to avoid the Modern UI:

  1. Right-click the Taskbar and select "Properties"
  2. Under the Navigation tab, you'll see a few checkboxes under "Start screen" that will let you set things like boot-to-desktop. If you want to completely get rid of the Start Screen, or add a Start Menu, you'll still have to use one of the methods above.
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This is an excellent start. It might be interesting to do a blog post comparing some of these options in detail. Once I get my hands on the RTM I'll give it a go. –  nhinkle Aug 18 '12 at 23:35
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+1 I recommend Classic Shell SM, instead of Start8, having used both. Classic Shell has made Windows 8 perfect for me. I only want to use Metro apps on a Windows RT tablet, but I can understand why Microsoft has done this - to give the new platform exposure, leveraging hundreds of millions of Windows users to play catchup in a increasingly important market, which is crucial for the company's survival as a dominant technology company. –  paradroid Aug 23 '12 at 23:03
    
Actually, now Start8 is better. It has recently been updated to be pretty much exactly the same as the Windows 7 Start Menu. All that is currently missing is UNC path search and it is a bit too translucent. –  paradroid Sep 1 '12 at 14:07
    
Untrue. One can skip the "Modern" UI, as see my answer. –  harrymc Dec 16 '12 at 11:21
    
@harrymc - you can skip it, but there's no "built in way to disable the Modern UI in Windows 8." The suggestions you posted allow the user to bypass the start screen when they load up, but after that they can still press the "Start" button to get to it, and the charms bar still appears (among other things) –  MatthewThepc Dec 16 '12 at 16:29
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For RTM Windows 8 there is an app to bypass the Start Screen and go to the desktop on boot.

I installed it on the Enterprise RTM trial, works like a charm.

such irony it took an "app"" to bypass the app start screen

http://winaero.com/comment.php?comment.news.103

enter image description here

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UPDATE: It installs a Service that executes the installed program

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I have also found Windows 7 Explorer for Windows 8 v1 there is a link to a video for you to see it in action. Installed on my W8 Enterprise Eval RTM, works like a charm, skips the start screen and brings back the original Windows 7 start menu and orb. There are side effect though, it changes (breaks) most of the Windows key functions in the New UI.

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If I'm not getting you wrong then it will bring the Win 7 desktop back where we don't need Win key –  avirk Aug 29 '12 at 14:51
    
It is interesting to know if this app does the same registry hack as in my answer. Could some Windows 8 user check this? –  harrymc Aug 29 '12 at 15:19
    
@harrymc I'll check these out in a VM today. –  nhinkle Aug 29 '12 at 17:08
    
@avirk correct. –  Moab Aug 29 '12 at 18:30
    
I don't understand why a system service is required here, but this is then not a simple registry hack. My own preference is to minimize the number of services, especially third-party, because a service has unlimited powers on the computer and can become a problem if badly programmed. –  harrymc Aug 30 '12 at 5:37
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Here are some customizations one can do to Windows 8 to orient it toward a more suitable a desktop experience.

Skip past the Metro UI

The thread How to disable Metro UI in windows 8 Consumer Preview suggests the following registry hack in order to skip past the Metro UI directly into explorer :

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
"Shell"="explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe"

Although it is preferable to test this first on a new user account by doing the same but on a per-user basis :

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
"Shell"="explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe"

Both fixes are available for download here. Use caution with registry updates, at least creating first a System Restore point.

Disable the lock screen

You can also disable the hateful lock screen via gpedit.msc by going to Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel -> Personalization -> "Do not display the lock screen" and setting that to "Enabled".

Get the Start Menu back

Finally, to get the Start Menu back use any of the following :

Classic Shell
ViStart
Start8

For completeness sake, I also note the article that shows how to use the Windows 7 explorer.exe for Windows 8. Please read carefully the comments, since this approach has lots of drawbacks.

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Please note, I will only award bounties for solutions that work in the final release. Rumor has it that the registry hack you mention doesn't work in the RTM. Have you tested that? –  nhinkle Aug 23 '12 at 6:31
    
@nhinkle: Nope - I don't have Windows 8, but should be easy enough for you to test and comment upon (interesting for me also). Also the above registry hack is reported as working in Consumer Preview. –  harrymc Aug 23 '12 at 7:54
    
@nhinkle: Have you tried this registry hack ? –  harrymc Aug 29 '12 at 6:02
    
Just tested. It's a bit clumsy, but it does work. Essentially it still loads Metro, but the start screen only flashes for a moment, then it goes to the desktop, and opens a Windows Explorer window. –  nhinkle Aug 30 '12 at 0:28
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Unfortunately, Windows 8 will not have a start menu by default. It has been replaced by the so-called 'Metro Interface'. You have to install 3rd party applications in order to get back your start menu.

  1. Vistart - A free app that will add a start menu similar found in Windows 7.
  2. Pokki Start Menu -It is also a free application that will add a start menu to your Windows 8. However, it does not look similar to the one in Windows 7. It has a nice interface though.
  3. Start8 -It is similar to Vistart except that it costs $5. The website offer a 30-day trial though.

There used to be a registry hack but it does not seem to work anymore.

I'm personally using Vistart and it works wonders.

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Updated list of all available 3rd party Start Menu apps for Windows 8:


Start8

ViStart

Classic Shell

Pokki

Wentutu

Power 8

IObit StartMenu8

Start Button 8 / Start Menu X

Spesoft Windows 8 Start Menu

Revel BringBack 8

Handy Start Menu

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Classic Shell works quite well. –  Joseph May 6 '13 at 20:08
    
I would go for Okki Menu alternativeto.net/software/pokki-menu –  Nam G. VU Jun 15 '13 at 3:30
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A less widely known and basic feature is accessed by right clicking the bottom left corner of the screen. That way you get most of the classic start menu features, apart from the programs listing. In fact, if it had a programs listing, I would find it not only suitable, but a better replacement.

http://i.imgur.com/i3oC58k.png

A keyboard shortcut is Windows+X.

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Additional 3rd party Start Menu Applications which I do not think have been mentioned include:

All these start menu alternatives provide essentially the same function(s), you just have to find the one that suits you best.

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Thanks for mentioning them here. All in all there are about 20 Start Menu applications; I feel like we should include all of them in one community wiki answer. –  amiregelz Dec 20 '12 at 15:21
    
@amiregelz: I totally agree, i'm sure there might be one or two that are hiding, but still can always add to the community wiki as time go by...But then again spoilt for choice at the moment :) –  Simon Dec 20 '12 at 15:25
    
@amiregelz Just came across Start Charming. Start Charming tames the Windows 8 immersive interface and allows full control of your desktop. It does not add a start button, but makes the Start interface more user friendly by allowing clicks to the user desktop while it is active. When ran directly it launches the Apps and Search interface in a more user friendly fashion than full immersion. nodnarbsoftware.20m.com/index.html –  Simon Mar 19 '13 at 11:51
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I prefer StartIsBack:

StartIsBack returns Windows 8 a real fully featured start menu and start button, behaving exactly like the ones in Windows 7.

StartIsBack radically improves desktop usability and makes new Start screen clutter-free.

StartIsBack is fully native lightweight zero-privileges program, cheap and fair, fast, stable and secure.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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