Boot to the 'Classic' desktop in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Boot to the 'Classic' desktop in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Summary: Quite involved, and a little rough round the edges, but it works.


Question from today's mailbox:

I'm testing out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (I have to ... it's my job) but I have no use for Metro of the Metro Start Screen. In fact, I hate it with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns and hate being dumped in it when I reboot my system. Is there any to bypass it and go direct to the 'Classic' Windows desktop?

I've been looking for a way to do this too, and I was starting to think that it wasn't possible (at least without some deep hacking of the system), but then a tipster (thanks Mike!) sent me in a way to do it. It's a little rough round the edges (I'll explain in a minute why) but it does allow you to bypass the Metro Start Screen when you log on to the system.

Here's the process ... I warn you now it's a little long-winded.

First, fire up Notepad and paste the following script file code into it.

[Shell] Command=2 IconFile=Explorer.exe,3 [Taskbar] Command=ToggleDesktop

Save the file somewhere where you'll remember. It doesn't matter what you call it but it must have the .scf file extension.

  1. Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools and then click on Task Scheduler.
  2. Select Task Scheduler Library.
  3. In the task area, right click and select Create New Task...
  4. Give the new task a name.
  5. Click on the Triggers tab and then on New ...
  6. Set the task to begin At log on and then click OK.
  7. Click the Actions tab and then New...
  8. Click the Browse button and navigate to the script you created earlier and then click OK.
  9. Click on the Conditions tab and uncheck Start the task only if the computer is on AC power and then click OK.
  10. Close the Task Scheduler.
  11. Restart the system and see if your script works.

I warned you earlier that while this tweak works, it's a bit rough. The biggest problem with it is that it opens Windows Explorer in the Libraries folder when you log on. There can also be a little delay in loading the desktop at the beginning. But if you're happier booting to the 'Classic' desktop than the Metro Start Screen, then this is a good solution.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Good

    Now you can save 1 click and move on with your life.
    • LOL I know right

      Like it is so hard to click "Desktop" which takes all of 2 microseconds to do.
    • Not even one click

      Windows Key + D is f'in difficult to push when it boots up if it's that big of a problem.

      Amazing that Adrian hasn't given up on this campaign yet.
    • The excuses some people will make for crap

      never ceases to amaze. Microsoft can't be bothered to do a simple detection on whether the OS is running on a tablet or a desktop (so much for a universal experience), and somehow it's the user's fault for not liking the result.
      • Duh

        They could do that, and they obviously don't want to. I applaud them for it, the start screen IS the best way to start a Windows session. But of course change is difficult.
      • Microsoft does not want to do a simple detection

        Because in a panic due to the massive success of the IPAD they have decided that their customers most of them who have been relativity happy with doing things on a desktop/notepad windows system since the 1990s want to change and compute on tablet/mobile or tablet like system. Another words they have totally bought into the whole we are in the "Post PC" world rhetoric.
  • Keep going until you get...

    Why don't the author keeps on going until he gets Windows 8 to look like Windows 95? Better yet he can simple write his own operating system and see if he can sell it. Such an idiot. How hard is it to press the desktop icon?
  • What's wrong with you commenters?

    Seriously the new start screen is NOT for desktop business users so for tips that disable booting to the start screen are very relevant.

    Time will show this to be true, I'm sure Microsoft is already hard at work trying to make it better for the desktop user, as right now this is "Windows Touch", NOT Windows8.

    I would love this OS on a tablet, but not my work computer for programming. Its as simple as that. If Microsoft doesn't get it right this time, its ok. Because after all it is their odd release (winme, vista, win8) which tests new technology, then the following release is the refined version of the OS worth the purchase.
    • hmmm

      Clicking a tile on the start screen, feels strangely the same as clicking on an icon or a menu. I'm still struggling to understand why a start screen means good for touch but bad for desktop?
      • Let me help

        Large tiles that totally ignore the advantages offered by large screen real estate and precision pointing devices. There. Do you get it now?
    • I don't see

      Why Metro is touch only. So far, it's been fun to use on the desktop. Just because UI elements aren't 10x10px anymore doesn't mean it's automatically bad for the mouse and keyboard.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • What's wrong with preferring the "Classic" desktop?

      Whose PC is it, anyway?
      • Zogg

        I seem to remember the classic desktop still being there. In fact, I'm on it right now. It's where I usually am 95% of the time, despite running Windows 8.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Nothing at all

        But it is wrong to expect systems to never change. This will likely all be fixed with visual hints and some minor interface tweaks. The start screen, once organized, is more effective for accessing programs then the old start menu. Microsoft's biggest problem in the CP is the complete lack of organization or a clear indication on how to customize it. No, it wasn't difficult to figure out. But when you first see the start screen it's a total mashup of random s**t. If they had things broken out properly so users could see just how nice it can be configured properly it wouldn't get so much flack.

        Although it would still get some. I'm not sure a normal tutorial is the answer because people tend to skip/ignore those. They need an indication about the corners and functionality until the user disables the visual hints. I can't really tell you the ideal means of displaying these hints, if I could I'd probably go be an interface designer.

        I have yet to see how Windows 8, especially with a properly setup start screen, hurts productivity in the slightest. And in many ways it speeds up normal tasks.
      • It's not about the classic desktop being missing.

        @Cylon Centurion
        [quote]I seem to remember the classic desktop still being there.[/quote]And no-one claimed that it wasn't - that's not the point. The point is that some people would obviously prefer to forget about Metro entirely and boot straight into the classic desktop instead. And if that's what they want to do with their PCs then why do so many others have a problem with that?

        [quote]But it is wrong to expect systems to never change. This will likely all be fixed with visual hints and some minor interface tweaks.[/quote]So everyone has to have Metro thrust into their faces while MS works out the kinks? Why not go for the less obnoxious "opt in" approach instead of "opt out"?
      • @Zogg

        Precisely. Launchapd on OS X is just as bad as Metro. But at least I can ignore it and never see it if I don't want to. The wife, on the other hand loves launchpad. I thought MS fans loved MS because they DIDN'T lock you into one way of doing things.
    • Keyboard + mouse work equally well

      The new start screen works equally well with keyboard and mouse, in fact it works vastly better with it then the old start menu. Of course you need to use it to really experience this. I can program just as easily on Windows 8 as I could on Windows 7, apart from the fact that Windows 8 is faster, and has more shortcuts available, so reliance on the mouse is less, which is a good thing.
  • There is something wrong

    when people are desperately to trying and get the desktop back as even trying all sorts of hacks and start up sfc files. I just watched a video of someones dad trying to get back to the Metro UI but finally gave up and stated "I guess they are trying to get me to buy a MAC"...priceless!
    • Well, the whole think looked staged to me

      but any sales pitch for a competing product would be structured the way the video was.
      William Farrel
      • Pirillo's been anti-MS

        since he got the takedown notice for vistatorrents.