When Windows Explorer (the window manager) crashed on Windows 7, one had only to open the task manager by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Esc, choose File -> New process and run
explorer again. Actually, sometimes I killed Explorer and re-ran it myself - if killed, it doesn't save settings and that's helpful if system screwed your desktop icon setup.
Recently, the window manager of my Windows 8 crashed. When it did, I tried to run task manager with the shortcut I mentioned, but nothing happened. Ctrl+Alt+Del did nothing either, so I had to shutdown the computer by using on/off switch and start it again.
Is there a way to recover a system after window manager crashing?