While I think it’s important that we all learn the new user experiences in Windows 8, it’s pretty clear that most of these experiences are less than efficient for those with traditional PCs who will stick largely to the desktop environment. With that in mind, here’s a cool new utility that will bring back the Windows Start button and, more important, I think, let you boot directly to the desktop, bypassing the Start screen.
The utility is called Start8. It’s from Stardock, and it’s free. You can download it from the Stardock web site. (Well, you have to hand over a valid email address first, but you get the idea.)
I do not recommend using this utility with a touch-based device of any kind. But it’s a godsend for those of us using traditional PC desktops, laptops, and Ultrabooks, especially for those of us who intend to stick largely to the desktop environment.
Before settling on this solution—and my guess is that we’ll see a lot of utilities like this in the months ahead—I was using a ponderous Task Manager and Windows script-based solution that paused briefly on the Start screen before proceeding to the desktop. I was told by sources at Microsoft that this type of solution would cease to work by RTM, but that doesn’t appear to be the case based on recent builds. Regardless, Start8 is easier, and it does boot your PC directly to the desktop.
A few notes about this utility.
Start button. It puts a Start button on your desktop and you can’t remove it. I’ve actually grown to like the way Windows 8 handles Start and wish this button wasn’t necessary, but you can at least configure the button to work like the Windows 8 Start tip and bring up the Start screen when clicked, not the weird Start8 “Start menu in a window” thing.
You configure Start8 by right-clicking its Start button.
Automatically go to desktop. You be asked whether you want to go automatically to the desktop when you sign in to Windows 8. Choose Yes. If you don’t, you can make this choice later by using the Start8 menu as above.
Allow WinKey to show fullscreen menu. I recommend enabling this option so that the Windows key works normally for Windows 8.
Start8 does a few other things, and has some other options not related to booting directly to the desktop. But I’ll leave that for you to discover.