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This is the custom desktop background I'm using. If you think it looks a lot like the Start screen background, you're right. It's a copy of the Start screen that I tweaked with an image editor. Here's how:
1. From the Start screen, click the Zoom icon in the lower right corner to zoom out so that your tiles are shown in small groups.
2. Press Windows key + PrtScr to capture an image of the Start screen and save it in the Pictures folder as a PNG file named Screenshot.
3. Open Windows Explorer, navigate to the Pictures library, right-click the Screenshot file you just created, and open it with an image editor. The built-in Paint program will do just fine.
4. Click the Select icon on the Home toolbar and use the mouse to select a solid color block equal in size to the picture of your zoomed tiles, Hold down Ctrl and drag that block over the tiles, so they disappear. Do the same with the user icon in the upper right corner.
5. The word Start appears in the top left of the captured screenshot. You can hide that label with a color to make the background image completely neutral. Or do as I did and use the Text control to replace the Start label with a Desktop label. I used Segoe UI Light, 44 points, to get a nearly perfect match.
After you add the custom image as your desktop background, tap the Start key to switch back to the Start screen. Tap Start again to return to the desktop. The transition is much smoother now, isn't it?
All of the Metro style App Previews that are included with the Windows 8 Customer Preview are designed as showcases, so you can see how they work.
When you remove their tiles from the Start screen, the apps themselves remain installed, cluttering up your system. The solution? Uninstall the ones you don't need.
On the Start screen, right-click any empty space and click All apps in the App bar. That opens a full list like the one shown here.
The group on the left shows Metro style apps as well as any shortcuts you've added to the Start screen. The group on the right shows Windows desktop programs you've installed, as well as Windows Accessories and system tools.
To uninstall a Metro style program, right-click its entry and click Uninstall in the App bar. A few rules are worth noting:
- Metro style apps are stored on a per-user basis. If you uninstall an App Preview, it remains available for other user accounts.
- Some app tiles can't be uninstalled or removed from this screen. In the Windows 8 Customer Preview, this list includes Internet Explorer, Remote Desktop, Windows Defender, and the Store tile.
- The Mail, Calendar, Messaging, and People apps are part of a single package. If you uninstall one, you will uninstall the entire package. You can't keep the People app and get rid of Calendar.
When you're finished, tap the Start key to return to the Start screen.
One complaint I hear repeatedly about the new Start screen is that it's too hard to shut down.
The Power button, with its Sleep, Shut Down, and Restart options, is available at bottom of the Settings pane. If you want a one-click option on the Start screen, you can create custom shortcuts that use the built-in Windows Shutdown command. Here's how:
1. Right-click an empty space on the desktop and then click New, Shortcut.
2. In the Create Shortcut dialog box shown here, enter one of the following two commands:
For a quick shutdown, use shutdown /s /t 5
For a quick restart, use shutdown /r /t 5
By default, the Shutdown command waits 30 seconds to execute your command. That's too long, so I end each shortcut with the /t switch followed by the number 5, which changes the timeout to 5 seconds.
3. Click Next to save the command and enter a name for the shortcut: Shut Down or Restart.
On the next screen, I show how to assign a custom icon to the shortcut.