I have an old game (Atomic Bomberman / Bomberman95 ) - which by the way does not have an working/exact clone - and it has to be run without DWM running. In windows 7 I would kill explorer and run the game (batch file) .

But the same batch file does not work in Windows 8. I tried killing DWM, but it keeps returning. Killing explorer does not kill DWM in Win8.

The "Disable Desktop Composition" option is gone in the "compatibility" tab.

How can I solve this issue?

I tried running the .exe as admin in 8bit-256 color mode and killing explorer, but the game screen is black.

I don't see Desktop Windows Manager in the services.msc application too, so I cannot disable it there.

Also, I have read this:


But this does only state that the old basic theme is available in Windows 8, not how to temporarly disable DWM.

3 Answers 3


Microsoft says that the Desktop Window Manager is always on in Windows 8 but that's not true. Windows PE 4.0 (a small version of Windows 8 used for installing, deploying, and recovering the Windows operating system) and Windows Server 2012 Server Core has no DWM. Actually, DWM is on because the Metro user interface uses the DirectComposition API to render its interface so if you disable DWM Metro experiences like the Start Screen and the logon screen turn black and you can't see anything. Always on DWM is enforced by Winlogon.exe which starts the DWM.exe process so if you kill DWM.exe, Winlogon will immediately restart the DWM.exe process.

Here's the solution to stop Winlogon.exe from starting the DWM process again:

  • Use PSSuspend.exe or Process Explorer from sysinternals.com
  • Follow the command line instructions for PSSuspend
  • If you're using the GUI Process Explorer than right click on the winlogon.exe process and click Suspend. Then, kill DWM.exe.

Warning: do NOT suspend DWM.exe by mistake, or you will be effectively locked out and need to reboot (explanation: it processes all input from mouse/keyboard, and winlogon.exe will not detect it should be restarted if it's suspended, nor will it release input to be used in non-DWM mode).


You can't disable DWM in Windows 8. It is always running! This is required for the new Windows Store Apps/"Metro" Shell:

In Windows 8, Desktop Window Manager (DWM) is always ON and cannot be disabled by end users and apps. As in Windows 7, DWM is used to compose the desktop. In addition to experiences enabled in Windows 7, now DWM desktop composition enables desktop composition for all themes, support for Stereoscopic 3D, and management, separation, and protection of the experience with Windows Store apps.

  • 1
    yet when I end it from the taskmanager it just restarts within a second or two, the system is in that time stable..
    – user144773
    Apr 12, 2013 at 9:59
  • yes, you can't kill DWM. Install a VM and play the games there. Apr 12, 2013 at 17:55
  1. Enable autologin or console login.

  2. Execute the following reg file:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\dwm.exe]


  3. Reboot.

  • Which does what?
    – NateS
    Jul 18, 2018 at 23:32
  • @NateS disables DWM
    – Anixx
    Jul 19, 2018 at 7:57

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