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Is there any way to make the start screen background fully transparent so that it displays my desktop (including everything on my desktop and any open windows)?

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While I can't give a definitive answer, I can say that I highly doubt it - (Formerly) Metro and the classic desktop environment are compartmentalised from each other, so it's quite likely that the Start Screen is entirely unaware of the desktop's current state. – TJennings Jul 12 '13 at 8:45
    
I suspected that'd be the answer. Really disappointing how the whole feature was implemented in win8 – Gabardine Jul 12 '13 at 12:26
    
In Win8.1 at least you can set the Start Screen background to be your Desktop wallpaper. Not quite what you want, but probably the closest you'll get unless some third-party hack manages to achieve this. Edit: Found something; perhaps there's hope after all... – Karan Jul 12 '13 at 18:58
    
But it doesn't even allow you to set your desktop background as the start screen background since it forcefully lowers the white point to dim it. – Gabardine Jul 13 '13 at 5:08
    
Just to confirm since the utility I linked to has two sliders, did you try increasing the Tile opacity and decreasing the Start Screen opacity levels? – Karan Jul 13 '13 at 15:48

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