If you were one of those business users counting on being able to circumvent the new tiled Windows 8 start menu, you may be disappointed.
The final release-to-manufacturing (RTM) builds of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 have been leaking to the Web for last few days. Those with access to the final builds are discovering the final tweaks Microsoft made to the product since the last public test build, Windows 8 Release Preview, was delivered.
One of those tweaks is the decision to block users from setting up their Windows 8 machines to boot straight to the Desktop, circumventing the tiled Start screen, formerly known as the Metro screen. (There's still no external word as to how Microsoft is planning to rebrand "Metro." It seems the Softies are backing away from the Metro terminology due to pressure of some kind from Metro AG, one of its European retail partners.)
Rafael Rivera, coauthor of the forthcoming Windows 8 Secrets, said he has verified that users cannot boot straight to the Desktop in Windows 8. With Windows 8 test builds, users could create shortcut that switches to the Windows 8 Desktop. Those who didn't want to boot to the tiled Start screen could schedule this shortcut to be activated immediately after a user logged onto Windows 8.
Some other users were holding out hope that Microsoft would allow administrators to use Group Policy to allow users to circumvent the Metro startup screen. But Rivera told me he believes this also is blocked.
It's worth noting there are a number of keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8 designed to help users who want to minimize their interactions with the tiled interface to boot into and out of the Desktop more quickly and easily. (See the Windows + D, Windows + B and Windows + M ones, particularly.)
(I've asked Microsoft to comment as to whether this is the case. No word back so far.)
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson said the company declined to comment.
While many like the tiled Metro start screen and are looking forward to using it on touch tablets and PCs, many others aren't keen on it -- especially business users who are convinced that Metro will be a nuisance, especially on non-touch-enabled hardware, especially given they plan to live primaril in the Desktop app on Windows 8.
Speaking of what business users like and don't about Windows 8, sister site TechRepublic has posted results of its survey of 3,000-plus IT pros about Windows 8. They've published an interesting list of the top Windows 8 pros and cons, based on results of those they surveyed. Not too surprisingly, the amount of required training -- in spite of the inclusion into the startup sequence of animations demonstrating some of the new Windows navigation techniques.
For those still lamenting Microsoft's decision to do away with the Start button on Windows 8, there's always Stardock's Start8. One of my readers, David Nation, says Start8 still works on the Windows 8 RTM build.
And before a bunch of my readers complain that folks wanting to boot to Desktop or keep the Start Button are a bunch of whiners, I'd point out -- as noted in the TechRepublic IT pro survey mentioned above -- that many business users are fearful of the time and money they are going to need to spend to retrain Windows users with Windows 8. That's a legitimate concern, in my opinion.