Windows 8 Desktop -v- Metro UI

Differences Between Windows 8 Metro and DesktopWindows 8 Desktop

It seems that there are subtle but perceptible differences in behaviour between the Metro UI and what Microsoft call the legacy desktop, as found in Windows 7.

Differences Between the Desktop and Metro UI


Booting Windows 8 Into the Metro-style UIWindows 8 Desktop v Metro Differences

The first difference is that you can no longer boot into the legacy Windows 8 Desktop.  You have to start with Metro user interface even if you put a desktop shortcut in your startup folder.  Furthermore, the registry hack RPEnabled no longer works. See more on Windows 8 desktop registry settings.

The Window 8 Start Menu(s)

Many users are thinking of the Metro UI as one big start menu, as a result they simply start typing the name of any program, app or setting that they want.  This is the same technique as ‘Search for programs and files’ in Windows 7. 

Pressing WinKey and switching to the Windows 8 desktop provides a very different experience from the Metro UI; probably the best way of operating in this environment is to right click your program back in the Metro UI and ‘Pin to taskbar’, the result is that you have a shortcut at the bottom of the desktop view.  Another tricky alternative is to invoke the start at the very bottom left corner.  See more on using this Windows 8 desktop start menu.

IE 10 Defaults

The default Metro version of IE 10 does not have those cogs to configure the browser’s internet settings.  The good news is that you can change that IE 10 behaviour.

Pin to Start
With the Metro version of IE 10 open, you have ‘Pin to Start’ available for any web page.  As a result you can create tiles for a handful of your favorite sites, then position them on the Metro UI just as you would for other tiles.

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The Windows 8 Snipping Tool

When you launch the snipping tool is switches to the desktop, and it’s hard – but not impossible, to return to the Metro UI so that you can capture its image.

This is my technique to snip in at the Metro interface:

  1. Launch the Windows 8 snipping tool.
  2. Press the Esc key to get out of snipping mode.
  3. Press WinKey to get to the Metro UI.
  4. Arrange the screen to be captured.
  5. Press Ctrl + Print Screen (Crucial Point)
  6. Now select the area of your screen that you want to capture.

Footnote: In truth, it took me about 3 tries before I got the sequence right. However, I was eventually rewarded with a snip of stuff in Metro UI.

See More About the Windows Metro-style UI

Summary of the Differences Between the Metro UI and the Desktop

It’s no longer possible to boot in to the Windows 7 legacy desktop, furthermore, there are differences in behaviour between IE 10 and built-in tools.

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Microsoft Windows 8 Metro-style User Interface

Windows 8 Metro UI  • Windows 8 Metro-style Tile  • Windows New UI  • Windows 8 Desktop

Windows 8 Configuration  • Windows 8 Charms  • Name a Metro Group  • Windows 8 Jump List

Windows 8 Metro -v- Desktop   • Windows 8 -v- Apple iPad3  • Windows 8 Touch Interface