Microsoft said to block ability to boot straight to desktop in Windows 8

Microsoft said to block ability to boot straight to desktop in Windows 8

Summary: Leaked builds of Microsoft's Windows 8 are providing more clues as to what kinds of user behaviors will and won't be permitted.


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.

Topics: Windows, IT Priorities, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • why oh why

    Man, I'd really like to know why MS is pushing this interface SO hard. I mean, even in Windows 7 you could configure it to look exactly like XP if you wanted to.
    I've heard that the Server version of Windows includes the Metro UI... to what end? why would a server admin want that interface?

    It's just really bad form to take away options from your users in my opinion. Set it as default, sure no problem. But force it regardless? I think it's a bad idea.

    To qualify my statement, I've been and love using windows 8 in all its metro glory, but I really think this bullheaded approach to Metro is going to bite them in the ass.

    I can only hope the hackabrew community comes up with a workaround after spelunking through the DLLs/registry. While I likely won't use it, I'd definitely put it in my toolset to help users who complain about Win8 and Metro. (yes i'm still calling it that :p )
    • Interface unity?

      "Man, I'd really like to know why MS is pushing this interface SO hard."

      Attempt to unify PC/Phone/Tablet interface? Know one, know 'em all.
      • you are 100% correct

        Once the Metro interface is totally learned on Phone/Tablet/Surface/Desktop you have a very happy Windows user. Makes sense to me from a Microsoft point of view. But in the work place not everyone is going to be so happy with Microsoft new directions and thats understandable also. Oh Well..
        Over and Out
        • xbox

          don't leave xbox out of that list
        • Not so true

          As users become more accustomed to a UI, they will find ways or develop them to get to where they want quicker. Block that ability and they start looking for "unapproved" ways or start looking at other UI's.

          Since I started using Win8, on a notebook I find that >95% of the time I go straight to the desktop. If I can find a way to skip Metro and only go there when I want to is my need and I will find a way - MS approved or not.

          But server? Why? "Metro" makes no sense there at all.
          • I found an even easier way to boot to desktop

            Don't use Windows 8... :\
          • You are right!

            I will stick to Windows 7 until it is EOL like XP. Unless gaming is a requirement, I do not see much will change to Win 8 at all.
          • Don't upgrade, indeed.

            Which is precisely why Windows 8 is heading down the same path as Vista. Windows 7 is still (relatively) fresh and by most metrics it is only now beginning to eclipse Windows XP as the predominant Microsoft OS. Businesses aren't going to flock to Windows 8 en mass when they still have years of support for Windows 7, which many just bought volume licenses for. "Metro" of 2012 has the same pitfalls as "Aero" of 2007, namely the retraining requirements are too much of a hassle for too little return.

            PC sales numbers are abysmal, so Microsoft can't rely on the "new PC sales" leverage. The only hope for Windows 8 is that Windows Tablets really take off. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure that will be the case.
          • tick, tock

            This is the release for consumers so MS can play catchup in that part of the market. Business is still in the process of moving to Win 7. Win 9 will be tailored more for the business side.
          • Win9

            Win 9 is probably set for 2016. MS is not going to rush and bring out the next interface just because. The interface to me is a bunch of elephant dropping and Win7 will just fine, for the next 3 or 4 years just like Win XP did.

            For most people its going to be new purchase and for companies it will be the same except they may just skip this OS for another 5 years. Companies don't need to change the OS that much if its working for them.
          • And

            You are exactly correct :)
          • Sure, and an easier way to avoid slow bandwidth problems

            is don't use your computer.

            Sort of a kill-a-fly-with-a-bazooka approach.
            milo ducillo
          • Why does anyone need Windows *?

            I gues Bill Gates need continuing cashflow.
            Thats th eonly reason I can see for bringing out Windows 8.
            What a time waster.
          • maybe..?

            I'm a gamer, what's your excuse...?
            Benjamin NElson
          • RE: maybe..?

            There are other methods of fulfilling your gamer fettish than upgrading to Windows 8. You could stick with your original OS, or if you feel like you absolutely need change, you could switch to Ubuntu. Ubuntu has recently received a beta version of Steam, which is slowly building a nice repository of software. Also, there's the Ubuntu software centre for everything else that Steam does not provide.
            Richard Estes
          • Evolution!

            While that might be true in the short term (relatively speaking), eventually evolution seems to win out. The older users who are reluctant or totally resistant to change, eventually pass beyond Microsoft's golden gates to another set of golden gates. Those following know nothing or very little of what was before. I don't think that there are many DOS users still typing keys rather than pushing a mouse button anymore?
          • Not really...

            You think the command line is dead? Well, what about PowerShell...?
  • does not even care

    I really don't think he cares, Jobs is dead, there is no one that he really cares about competing with. he is having way to much fun not doing any tech stuff and worrying about it any more. I think he is done when it comes to the tech world.
    • Jobs never did any "tech stuff"

      He just stole others' work and sabotaged anyone else withn Apple who had actual ideas.
  • Gates

    He's still the Chairman of Microsoft, and is the head of one of the largest, and most important committees on the board, though I forget what that one is. In addition, he's the largest stockholder, and received over $266,000,000 in dividends last year. Ballmer is the second largest, and received over $244,000,000 I dividends.

    So, yeah, you know he cares.