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Windows 8 Feature Focus: Lock Screen

Modeled after the Windows Phone lock screen, the Windows 8 lock screen is a full-screen, Metro-style experience that appears when you boot your PC or resume from sleep. And as with its smartphone-based counterpart, the Windows 8 lock screen is designed to provide basic glance-and-go information and status notifications for key Metro apps and the services behind them.

As is so often the case, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s an example shot of a typical Windows 8 lock screen.


Here, you can see the elements that make up this interface, including the time and date, a single detailed status (in this case from Calendar), and up to several quick status notification badges for both apps (none shown here) and system settings like network (shown) and power.

To bypass the lock screen, tap any key on the keyboard, or, on a touch screen, swipe the screen up with your finger.

The lock screen is customized in PC Settings, Personalize, Lock screen. Since this is the default view in PC Settings, you won’t have to do much navigating unless you’ve previously used PC Settings for some other purpose.


This interface is used to customize which elements appear on the lock screen. To change the background image, click Browse and use a standard Metro-style file picker to find a picture you prefer.

You can also choose up to seven Metro-style apps that will provide simple status updates. For example, if you choose the Mail app, a Mail badge will appear on the lock screen when you have unread mail, along with a number indicating how many unread mails there are. In the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, only four built-in apps can be assigned to these badges: Calendar, Mail, Messaging, and Weather. But some third party apps, like AT&T Communications Manager, provide this capability as well.


Windows 8 also provides for a single app that can provide more detailed status updates. I typically choose Calendar for this purpose—it’s one of only two Consumer Preview apps that can do so--as it will provide information about the next scheduled event right on the lock screen. But other apps can be useful this way, too, like Weather (the other app that works in the Consumer Preview).

If you’re not a fan of the lock screen—it’s not particularly useful on desktop computers, in my opinion—you can disable it. To do so, run the Local Group Policy Editor (Start Search, gpedit.msc) and navigate to Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Control Panel, and then Personalization. Double-click the entry titled “Do not display the lock screen” and then select Enabled in the window that appears. Click OK to close that window, and then close the Local Group Policy Editor. The change will take effect immediately.

Now, you’ll bypass the lock screen entirely and be presented with the sign-in screen instead when you boot or resume from sleep. Likewise, when you lock the PC (WINKEY + L), you’ll go immediately to the sign in-screen, not the lock screen.

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