How To Quickly & Easily Disable The Metro User Interface In Windows 8

muo w8 metrotoggle intro   How To Quickly & Easily Disable The Metro User Interface In Windows 8Although some months away from full launch, a couple of versions of Windows 8 are already available. The Developer Preview was released in September 2011, while the beta or Customer Preview version was made available for download in February 2012.

One of the most striking things about the new Microsoft operating system – beyond the Metro user interface – is the lack of a traditional Start menu in favour of tiles. However with a desktop view available for running legacy apps, it seems likely that users will appreciate the ability to use a Windows 8 computer in much the same way as they have used each version of Windows since the mid-1990s.

Of course, this means manually switching from the Metro view – or does it? A useful registry hack can be used to disable Metro, restoring the classic Start menu and desktop view as the default user interface. Sadly this fix will only work with the Windows 8 Developer Preview, rather than with the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview, due to tighter integration of the Metro UI with the various Windows screens. However Microsoft has indicated that there will be a method to disable Metro or set the desktop view as the default for corporate users, so those of you looking ahead shouldn’t be too concerned just yet.

Finding The Desktop View In Windows 8

If you have already seen Windows 8 in action it might come as some surprise to you to learn that there is a desktop view at all. This is found by clicking the tile in the lower-left corner of the Start screen. When you do this, you will see the Metro desktop vanish to be replaced by a classic-looking Windows desktop, complete with a Start button in the corner.

However it will become apparent that all is not as it should be. While you can use the classic desktop for running legacy apps and installing software (and hardware) its features are somewhat limited, as you will see by clicking the Start button, hidden in the very bottom-left corner of the screen.

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Where you might have expected to see a list of applications and links to the Control Panel, you should see that this stripped-down Start button has been “metroed”.

Restoring The Desktop

With a Start menu already present, it is clear that Microsoft still wants you to have access to that useful collection of tools in the corner of the screen. So why not “go large” and restore it to its former glory?

This can be done in one of two ways. The first is to hack the registry, disabling Metro which is little more than an overlay, an additional user interface sitting on top of the traditional Windows desktop (and the real Windows 8). Alternatively, you can take advantage of a single-click utility that does the job for you.

Not Enough? Why Not Disable Metro?!

In order to discard the Metro desktop and restore the classic option – thereby starting Windows 8 with the traditional desktop view – you will need to make an adjustment to the Windows registry.

Warning: If you have no experience changing the registry, you should read this section very carefully and perhaps find a friend or colleague who can provide assistance.

  • Begin in the Metro view by typing regedit, which should launch the app search box and find the utility. If you’re already in desktop view then pressing the Windows Key + R combination will open a Run box, so type regedit and click OK.
  • The first thing you should do at this stage is open File > Export and create a backup of the system registry in advance of making any changes.

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  • Once this has completed, navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  • Find the RPEnabled key and right-click, selecting Modify. Here, change the key from 1 to 0. Click OK to confirm, and you will find that Metro has been disabled.

Should you wish to restore Metro at any time, simply reverse the above change, switching the key back from 0 to 1.

Toggle The Windows 8 Start Menu

Does the idea of tinkering in the Windows registry fill you with fear? You’re not the only one, which is why there is a useful alternative, courtesy of DeviantArt user Solo-Dev. With the Windows 8 Start Menu Toggle tool, the above registry hack is automated into a small single button interface.

Head to this page and click on the Download link to get your copy of the small 15.1 KB utility. Save it to your Windows 8 computer and then open the ZIP archive and run w8smt.exe. Installation requires that you will need to enable the .NET Framework, so spend a few moments waiting for this to update on your system. Once complete, the w8smt.exe tool should install.

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You will then see a box with a Use Classic Start Menu button (and little else) displayed. Simply click this to disable Metro and enjoy Windows 8 in the classic manner!

Conclusion

Whether you agree with the implication of the Metro UI on desktop and laptop computers or not, it cannot be denied that this particular registry hack is likely to turn out very useful to a lot of people unless Microsoft acts and adds its own Metro toggle switch into Windows 8. Of course, this is unlikely to happen as it will completely undermine the Metro UI!

However if you’re someone who requires access to legacy apps or simply prefers the traditional desktop view then this hack can be used to deliver the classic Windows UI with the modern Windows 8 functionality.

What do you think? Will you be disabling Metro when you get your copy of Windows 8?

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33 Comments -

Peter

Unless I suddenly get a touch-screen monitor or tablet on which to run Windows 8, I’ll be switching to either the pseudo desktop mode or the real one. Metro works really well for touch-screens, but last time I tried it didn’t work so well for the traditional mouse/keyboard combination.  Of course, that could have changed since the last preview. I’ll have to try it before actually switching. I know Metro would be pretty well-suited for my wife in most cases, but probably not as much for me.

Peter

To clarify – I like Metro in WP and imagine it will work pretty well for tablets (like the Samsungs that had some pre-release of this running for demo purposes). It just didn’t seem to work really well for the PC when I last tried it.

Schvenn

Simple. I will boycott Windows 8.

some1else

what’s the point!?!

Max Renn

With Android and iOS (and WP) around it’s easy to see why Microsoft is slapping this on Windows 7… er 8 to look trendy. I suppose they think the Ribbon worked out alright for Office (though I hate it) so Metro is kinda like that with its Big Buttons, so why not. Whether it’s any use or enjoyable to interact with on a desktop screen is another story. We’ll find out soon enough.

isotrex

The metro UI looks cool but not practical for mouse and keyboard IMO. And it sucks that you have to configure it via registry. I hope they have some simple disable button in there somewhere built-in to Windows 8. haha.

Mandar

After install windows Devloper Privew i cant see DVDROM in my Pc..
How show dvdrom in my pc.

Chris Hoffman

Isn’t Microsoft removing the Start menu entirely? How will this work, then?

I’m surprised that you can even do this, considering they said users wouldn’t be allowed to permanently bypass Metro when they announced Win 8.

Christian Cawley

Wait and see what you can do in the Consumer Preview…

Ninja Gaiden

I downloaded the consumer preview a few days ago. I am not impressed with Metro. Its disabled on my machine. I doubt I will ever re-enable it. It looks cool and works for a tablet or phone but is not practical for a desktop PC.

ELSEVAR

Agreed. Metro is fine for small machines like cell phones and tablets. It is usleless for doing real work. Windows has had a Start button AND A START MENU for a reason – because it helps a user get work done.

Simply stated, Metro is for people who use their computers for entertainment … and it is useful for nothing else.

Carlos

Did you even bothered testing your “solutions” – word is they’re not working any more, and your pics of dev preview suggest you didn’t. Shame on you.

Christian Cawley

With all due respect, Carlos, the article was written for and with the Developers Preview.

Casper//

Did you bother reading the whole article?

ReliancePC

Methods that work to bypass or disable Metro UI in Windows 8 Developer Preview
do not work in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Also, methods based on using the
Task Manager and methods that are based on a showdesktop.scf don’t work either.

However, I discovered that overriding the default registry value:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
“Shell”=explorer.exe

with

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
“Shell”=”explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe”

does in fact automatically skip past Metro UI (under most circumstances).

One can also do this override on a per-user basis with:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
“Shell”=”explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe”

In this latter case, you could dip your toe in the water by creating a new
login Id to experiment on before applying the change system-wide with the first
case.

Note that in either case, after one logs on, it takes a couple of seconds for
the desktop background to appear after the initial root folder for the user appears.
Also, note that this method leaves a vestigial explorer.exe process that remains
in the background until a logoff occurs.

I also made two .reg files, one for the HKLM change and one for the HKCU change, which
can be used to apply the desired change. These are in a zipped folder that can be
downloaded from:

http://www.reliancepc.com/menu/tips/Downloads/GoToClassicDesktopRegFiles.zip

(Needless to say, if you decide to give this a try, be careful, do a system restore point,
and be prepared to enter Safe Mode [if you can figure out how], or understand how to bring
up the Task Manager with Ctrl-Alt-Del and start regedit.exe with Administrative privileges
if you happen to get in real trouble.)

I also recommend that you disable the hateful lock screen via gpedit.msc by going to:

Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuratoin -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel ->
Personalization -> “Do not display the lock screen” and setting that to “Enabled”.

Finally, download and install ViStart to get the Start Menu back. Once you’ve done all three of these things
W8 starts to become usable for actual enterprise-level work as opposed to pointlessly farting around with a
toy interface that badly emulates a credit-card sized personal communication touch-screen interface like Android.

Asok Asus

Actually, I just posted some of this information in that article, but modified to work with Classic Shell 3.5.0, which was just released and which works much better than ViStart in my opinion.

Christian Cawley

It’s just good to know that there are so many options :)

Jamshid Faryar

“pointlessly farting around with a toy interface”… Hah! I remember people saying that about the Mac in 1984!

ReliancePC

I used a Mac in 1984. And a Lisa before that. And a Xerox Star before that. So, I DO have a bit of perspective on the matter.Those were all revolutionary. Metro UI is pathetic, at least for anything except a credit-card sized touch screen on a device with minimal functionality.

Actually, I’m kind of hoping Microsoft is so grossly incompetent, out-of-touch and arrogant that they do try and foist Metro UI onto the public via PCs. I’m looking for a few good shorts right now, and some LEAP Puts on a PC index fund would be a cinch if Metro UI is the default PC interface, especially if those fools eliminate the Start Menu, which would be sort of like removing the steering wheel from automobiles are replacing it with, well nothing, actually.

Peter

I hardly use the start button at all in windows 7, once you got your stuff down in the “tab” you will never need it. I’ve tested win 8 in a “virtual box”, and it works great, I don’t mind the “metro” UI being there in the background. Even if it is horrible compared to the desktop we are used to. What I would like is just the possibility to boot into the desktop directly. Since the desktop feels much faster than Windows 7 with less resources, I would not see how we can avoid getting Windows 8.

ELSEVAR

One feels the urge to start drifting towards Ubuntu …

GodSponge

Thanks for that part about disabling the lock screen. I HATE it on a regular PC.

Adriano Grisanti

I’ve tried the customer preview copy and its seems faster and updates everything in the background without and error messages (i.e. this is not a windows cert driver, etc). However the metro interface is awful and frustrating, so I will only buy Windows 8 if you can disable the Metro interface and go straight to desktop. The metro interface is fine for tablets and some laptops, but not most desktops. I switched to open office because of the awful ribbon interface in office 2010 (which we have been made to upgrade to at work :-( ). So if Metro is the future, then I think MS will have another vista on tehre hands.

ELSEVAR

Thank you. Yours is the voice of wisdom. Ribbons are dreadful, and they are the reason I went back to using my MS Office 2003. I periodically help folks with their Office 2007 and 2010 suites and am apalled every time. Unbelievable that Microsoft did not include the option of using menus and disabling the ribbons. It bespeaks a clear contempt for their legacy users, people who have been loyal customers for decades.

Metro, alas, is more of the same.

John

I tried Windows 8 consumer preview. Found the interface absolutely awful! After struggling with it for 30mins trying to find where even the basic settings and programs were, gave up and went back to Windows 7! Microsoft windows seems to have a history of one good os then a rubbish one. I.e XP was good, Vista was awful, Windows 7 is good, Windows 8 to my mind is rubbish!

Jan

I’ll stick with WIN7 until the computer dies (I got WIN7 with the computer I bought when the one with XP died). I don’t like GUI. I’m a keyboard/mouse guy. WIN7/Word 2010 (tape and all) are fine. I’ll buy a computer when this one dies and use whatever OS I find on it, most likely (been doing this for 30 years now…definitely a trend).

Jack

I hate this metro crap. I will stick with Windows 7 or I’ll switch to Ubuntu Linux. Who in the world has money to put out for touch screens anymore ? They are so expensive and I am not going to shell out more money after buying a 27″ HD 1080p monitor for my computer. A touch screen of this size is going to COST. MS didn’t think about that meaning they didn’t think about the customer. As usual.

Sean A

I love this. But I will not be buying Windows 8 until Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7. Why should I pay for a differently titled same OS

arthur

Thanks for the tutorial, i have installed win 8 and wanted to do away with the Metro UI, followed your steps but I have found out that i my regedit, ……. explorer, i don’t have the RPEnabled feature… what can i do?

Lotar

Windows 8 is great, but only for tablets, and other things with touch-screen display.
Now I am using Windows 7 and while it’s not needed I don’t switch to Windows 8.
I tested it on another computer, and I can’t find some things in the Metro UI. The Windows has got Start Menu from Windows 95, why Microsoft removed it?
As I seems some menus, etc.. are Android-like, isnt it?

– sorry for my bad english -

dave

As far as i am concerned Metro is ugly and crap on pc dont like it and would not buy a smart phone with it on either.

No of button for it then goodbuy Microsoft and hello Apple.. lets be honest windows has been getting worse and worse over the years. Microsoft has lost the plot even running ie9 adverts on telly its 2 years old at least and is only good for downloading firefox.

Christian Cawley

” lets be honest windows has been getting worse and worse over the years.”

What, from a peak of Windows 95 and Windows me?

Sorry Dave, you’re well out of kilter there – Windows 7 is by far and away the best operating system available today. Recent Mac OS X releases have been disappointing, but Windows 7 fixes everything that is wrong Vista and then improves it.

The irony is that next year, Windows 7 will still probably be the best OS available.

I’m interested in your smartphone comment – you would buy a phone with a 5 year old OS on it, but not a brand new, super fast, slick and productive OS? Is this simply ignorance, or do you like being at the back of the pack?