I've played around a smidge with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in a VirtualBox VM and I think the improvements under the hood may be worth tolerating the Metro UI crap. I don't like that the entire screen changes to something I don't care about when I hit the Windows key and start typing but I can deal with it.

The one thing I cannot stand, though, is that it starts in the Metro interface by default. I have to hit the "Desktop" tile to get to a normal interface, and while I can hit "escape" to go back to the desktop and dismiss Metro, it doesn't work when you first log in. When you first log in, you have to hit that "Desktop" tile.

I know that the Enterprise versions of Windows 8 will go to the desktop by default. I don't know but I would assume that there's probably some registry key that would handle this. Has anyone figured that out yet?

  • @uSlackr is absolutely right. Win8 doesn't add any new features, just the new metro UI. If you don't use it, just stay with win7, it is the same or get the enterprise version, if you really think that you feel the "changes under the hood" – inf Mar 1 '12 at 17:11
  • @bamboon: if Microsoft handles 8 the same way they handled 7, the only way to use the Enterprise Edition would be to connect to a corporate licensing and activation server. Of course, in 7 the Enterprise Edition was just the Ultimate Edition activated differently, so who knows. – Tom Kidd Mar 1 '12 at 17:25
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    @bamboon: Where have you officially read that they only add the new Metro UI? I think you are wrong because I've seen other features besides the Metro UI. Check your sources, please... – Tamara Wijsman Mar 2 '12 at 0:47
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    @TomWijsman - He is simply trolling. I guarantee you he has not even used it for a single minute. – Ramhound Mar 2 '12 at 17:14
  • @TomWijsman, well he probably means that the new features are marginal compared to how big an addition the Metro UI is. – Jonathan. Mar 4 '12 at 18:55

Adding a Scheduled Task that launches explorer.exe on login is the method we're using for our automation clients.

This approach worked best for us as it doesn't require third party software or registry hacking, and we can deal with having an Explorer window on the desktop.

  • This is actually a really good idea. Its one of the few times that a response after so many months of inactivity added to the answer(s). – Ramhound Mar 5 '13 at 20:31
  • I have long since come to terms with Metro and for the record I use Start8 and really like it. That said, the question I originally asked was how to make Windows 8 go to the desktop by default and since this really is an answer to the question that doesn't involve a behavior workaround or external software, I think it wins. – Tom Kidd Mar 6 '13 at 20:43

The thing is that switching to your Desktop feels like an useless operation. You could instead launch an application you are planning to use, because clicking the Desktop first can be seen as an extra click.
(Disclaimer: I have used Windows 8 since the day it came out, never had to click on Desktop; but YMMV may vary [see second section])

See the Start Screen Blog Article for a deeper understanding behind this choice:

The Start screen is not just a replacement for the Start menu—it is designed to be a great launcher and switcher of apps, a place that is alive with notifications, customizable, powerful, and efficient. It brings together a set of solutions that today are disparate and poorly integrated.

The first thing customers will want to do when you boot your computer is launch something, don't you? :)

Here is where the power of secondary tiles come in, you can even pin your favorite messaging contacts.

However, you might be one of those users that has his Desktop full of icons and aren't going to listen to that; hence which is why I do have a solution for you that allows you to go straight to the Desktop:

  1. Place the Desktop in the upper left of your Start Screen.

  2. As the Start Screen supports Keyboard Navigation, the upper left is selected by default.

  3. Just press Enter to launch the upper left entry, this works anytime.

This is of course not automatic, but as the known registry hack might/does not work anymore this is as close as we can get for now. Unless somehow looks into the login behavior and finds a way around.

As there is disagreement on actually having to use Start Screen, one could try to port the Start Menu:

Your best bet is to see whether you can port executable code from the Windows 8 Developer Preview or Windows 7, other than that you'll need to live with the changes.

However, this might come with its own adventure of working around OS security and what not...

Start of by trying to copy Explorer.exe as well as monitoring/copying its dependencies. You might require an API monitor or debugger to get a deeper understanding on what the Explorer is doing, don't forget to copy the registry settings as well.

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    I respectfully reject the premise that the choice you have is to not upgrade to Windows 8. There are a large number of under-the-hood improvements (WinRT, etc.) that you can only get by upgrading, to say nothing of how you will need to upgrade to develop Metro apps in the first place. So no, not upgrading is not really an option for a professional developer. However, I can tell you this much - I have no use for the advantages Metro gives on a desktop PC. I really would just like Windows 7 again with the under-the-hood improvements and Metro switched off. – Tom Kidd Mar 2 '12 at 17:17
  • @Schnapple: Actually, the example you listed (WinRT) is part of Metro. So, if you do not want to develop for Metro; you don't need Visual Studio 11 or Windows 8. If you want to develop for Metro, you need Visual Studio 11 (or at least the compilers) and Windows 8 (to test). There's no such thing as needing Windows 8 to develop something non-Metro. Not referring to you, I suspect comments to be based on Windows 8 alone as per the tags; so hate comments referring dumbed down UI changes are not welcome... – Tamara Wijsman Mar 2 '12 at 21:30
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    Yeah, and I'm allowing for the strong possibility that at some point I may want or have to develop something for Metro, but I don't see myself actually want to use Metro on any regular basis. I don't know, I mean on the one hand I know Microsoft has spent a lot of time and money on it and I do sort of agree with the sentiment that the traditional Start menu is irrelevant, but this is also the same company that has made some pretty horrible OS mis-steps in the past. So we'll see. BTW, what happened to all the other comments? Did they get nuked by moderators? – Tom Kidd Mar 3 '12 at 22:17
  • @Schnapple: The registry values are no longer accessed, you can verify that with Process Monitor. All the other values that are accessed are for styling the Metro screen. In this Consumer Preview, the code has literally been replaced. Back in the Developer Preview they only recently added the code which is why the switching behavior was still in place back then. Your best bet is to see whether you can port executable code from the Windows 8 Developer Preview or Windows 7, other than that you'll need to live with the changes. – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 22:49
  • In my use case, I don't feel like I have to tolerate anything. But I have been using Windows 8 since the day the Developer Preview and am already used to the new UI as well as do like how things are more accessible on the new Start Screen and the way to Search things, but as you already said yourself YMMV. I agree Microsoft is stepping on the tip of their toes and that their is a high change that a bunch of people will misunderstand these changes, but we'll see... I don't feel like discussing this anyway as I just wanted to share the reasoning and easiest methods; so yes, they did get nuked. – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 22:54

Nothing official but there are some apps out there to disable the Start Screen (Metro UI). originally for Developer Preview, use at your own risk.

Here, Here and Here

Manual Reg hack here, it appears the registry "RPEnabled" DWORD is not present in the new build, I tried adding the value and it did nothing, so it does not work on the new build.

Nothing specific to the New W8 build, yet, give it time.

Win+D or just Win key loads the desktop from the metro UI, not sure if someone could figure out how to run this at startup, maybe some sort of batch file.

One thing I did learn Win + X gets a limited legacy start menu, either from the desktop or Metro UI.

::Update for Consumer Preview (some of the old tricks don't work anymore)

6 Ways to Totally Avoid Metro and Use Only Desktop Mode in Windows 8


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    At the very least the registry hack is no longer valid (likely because there's no longer a windows logo to modify the behavior of) – Tom Kidd Mar 1 '12 at 17:06
  • Start 8 is awesome! – bdwakefield Jul 27 '12 at 0:25

This software called Classic shell adds not only the ability to skip straight to the desktop, it also gives you a start menu. It's fully configurable too.


Try one of the following:

  1. Start8
  2. Classic Shell
  3. Skip Metro Suite
  4. http://www.7tutorials.com/how-boot-desktop-windows-8-skip-start-screen

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