Windows 8 Desktop
Those with a mouse may prefer an alternative to Windows 8's New UI, namely a Windows 7-like Desktop with a taskbar and Start menu.
Windows 8 Desktop
Once you sign-in to Windows 8 you are greeted by the new 'Metro' Start screen with its tiles. While this radically new display is designed for tablets, it's easy to switch to the familiar Windows desktop layout. Either simply press the Windows key, or else seek out the 'Desktop' tile.
In the Consumer Preview edition the registry hack RPEnabled, which booted Windows 8 into the legacy desktop, no longer works. The work-around is to create a shortcut to the desktop in your startup folder.
Plan B - Modify the Shell Using Regedit
It is possible to modify the Shell setting in the registry.
While this does side-step the Metro UI, the resulting explorer was not ideal. I am yet to get it to display the desktop and Taskbar.
Windows 8 - The Lost Start Orb
The hot debate in Windows 8 is the disappearance of the Start Orb. People's reactions are polarised, those with a tablet form-factor accept the whole Metro UI as one big start menu. While many of those with a mouse prefer to work from the desktop as they did in Windows 7 and XP.
Do remember that the Metro UI is new technology, and knowing Microsoft, it will evolve rapidly. The battlefield is how to reconcile touch screens functionality with those wanting a desktop workhorse.
Amazingly, if you carefully right-click this icon then you get a whole menu of Windows 8 settings, which is reminiscent of the Windows 7 Start menu. See screenshot lower left.
There is a knack to accessing this menu. You have to hover the mouse over the lower left corner, it's on the very lower edge of the screen.
One more surprise, it's possible to customise the list. Navigate
to: C:\ Users
You should now see three sub-folders called Group 1, 2 and 3. This is where you can inspect the listed items, and with care, customize the menu by pruning the shortcuts. I am still trying to figure out a way of creating new shortcuts for other executables. When you have finished tweaking the items remember to Sign out - Sign in before your changes take effect.
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The screenshot (above right) shows regedit open, and a thumbnail of a weather App; OK, confession, I enlarged the thumbnail so that you could see it more easily.
There are two ways to access the 5 icons that comprise the Windows 8 'Charms', either press WinKey +c, alternatively, swipe downwards over the bottom right corner of your screen. See arrow to the right. Actually the Charms remind me of Vista's Gadget Sidebar, but less intrusive.
The good news is that this overlay containing Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings is available from both the Metro and the Desktop view. It seems that position of the Charms has now settled on the right edge, whereas it was at bottom left in the Developer Preview.
One job for the Charms is to access the Control Panel, while another purpose is to use this sidebar to configure the settings of individual Apps. Incidentally, I realized the Charms was important when I saw a program to change its icons.
Show Desktop Button
The Show Desktop button is hidden in Windows 8. However, hovering over where this button was visible in Windows 7 will minimise all open windows, and thus display the desktop and any shortcuts.
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Windows 8 Jump Lists
The key to viewing jump lists is to right-click a program pinned to the taskbar. Alternatively, on a tablet computer drag the icon upward with your finger.
In addition to recently opened files, you can pin files to the Jump List. Social media websites also program the jump lists to provide links to commonly used parts of their site.
See More About the Windows Metro-style UI
Summary of Windows 8 Desktop
For those with a mouse, Windows 8 has an alternative to the Metro UI, namely a Windows 7-like Desktop. Furthermore, it's possible to access many of the system management settings via its 'Start' button.
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Microsoft Windows 8 Metro-style User Interface