8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How to Get Them Back

Chris Hoffman 20-05-2013

Microsoft removed a variety of features from Windows 8 What's Missing From Windows 8? Windows 8 has seen the removal of many features that have been key to Windows over the years, including the Start button, Start menu, and Windows Aero. We tend to focus on the new features... Read More . These features range from the widely-used — like the Start menu and DVD playback — to the useful-but-rarely-used, like Windows Media Center. Other features, like the Windows Briefcase, are hopefully not being used by anyone anymore. Many of these features aren’t great losses to most people, but they are if you depended on them.


Luckily, Windows 8 isn’t yet a locked-down mobile operating system Convenience Before Freedom: How Tech Companies Are Slowly Trapping You [Opinion] Computers were once under our control. We could run any software we wanted on them, and the companies that manufactured the computer had no say. Today, computers are increasingly being locked down. Apple and Microsoft... Read More , no matter how hard Microsoft is trying to make it into one. While many features are missing from Windows 8, you can still get them back. Most important features can be restored with high-quality alternatives, but replacements for other features — like the Windows 7 Aero theme and Windows Classic theme — are nowhere near as polished as Microsoft has removed the necessary theming code.

Start Menu, Unified Search & Boot to Desktop

Windows 8 removed the Start button and traditional Start menu, opting instead for the Start screen, which functions as a sort of full-screen Start menu. You also can’t boot directly to the desktop in Windows 8, nor can you use unified search to search programs, settings, and files at once, like you could in Windows 7.

All of these features can be returned to Windows 8 by installing a third-party Start menu like the popular Start8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More , free Start Menu 8, or traditional ClassicShell Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 usable for people who think it's not. Add a start menu to the desktop and tweak the way Explorer and Internet Explorer behave, all thanks to a piece of software called Classic... Read More . There will be a delay before you see the desktop every time you log in — Microsoft added a delay to hinder people who try to boot to the desktop as they want you to see the Start screen every time you log in.

features missing in windows 8

DVD Playback

Windows 8 can no longer play DVDs out-of-the-box. While you can re-purchase DVD support from Microsoft by purchasing the Windows 8 Pro Pack and then the Media Center Pack, this will cost you over $100 in total. Luckily, you don’t have to do that. Just install the free VLC media player to play DVDs on Windows 8 Why Won't Windows Play My DVD Or Blu-ray Disc? You insert a DVD into your Windows 8 computer – you want to watch a movie. Nothing happens. You try opening Windows Media Player. It can't play the disk. What's going on with Windows 8... Read More .


Note that, if you purchase a new computer that comes with a DVD drive, the computer likely comes with included, licensed DVD playback software that you can use to play DVDs without downloading anything else.

windows 8 missing features

Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center is no longer part of Windows 8. If you love Windows Media Center The Best PVR: Windows Media Center! Despite the perceived image of Microsoft as a lumbering beast with bloated software that ships full of bugs, they have actually produced some fine software over the years. Today I’d like to highlight Windows Media... Read More and want to keep using it, you’ll have to upgrade to the Professional version of Windows 8 and purchase the Media Center Pack. You can do all this from within Windows 8, but it will cost you over $100 in total. You could also try using a different media center application like XBMC 5 Reasons to Install Kodi on Your Android Right Now Kodi, formerly known as XBMC, is a fantastic media app for Android, and you're missing out if you haven't downloaded it yet. Read More instead.

windows 8 missing features


Solitaire, Minesweeper & Other games

Windows 8 removes Solitaire, Minesweeper, and the other games included with Windows that procrastinating office workers everywhere depend on. You can install Modern versions of Minesweeper and Solitaire from the Windows Store Windows 8 Version Of Minesweeper Includes Themes, Adventure Mode Play a new version of Windows classic Minesweeper, complete with XBox achievements and a brand new adventure mode. Yep, I'm writing an article about Minesweeper. And why shouldn't I? It's a game that's been included... Read More . If you really love the desktop versions, you can install the desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper on Windows 8 How to Play Minesweeper on Windows 10 Microsoft no longer ships Minesweeper as part of Windows, but it doesn't mean you can't play the classic game! Read More — although this will take some work.

windows 8 missing features

Windows Desktop Gadgets

Desktop gadgets were removed from Windows 8. Microsoft says they’re insecure — a desktop gadget is a program and can modify your system like any other program. This is true, but means that desktop gadgets are just as insecure as any other desktop program. If you love desktop gadgets, you don’t have to go without. You can easily install desktop gadget support in Windows 8 Miss Gadgets & Widgets On Windows 8? Here's How You Can Get Them Back Microsoft removed gadgets, the desktop widget feature introduced in Windows Vista, from Windows 8. Microsoft would prefer you use live tiles on the new Start screen to get information – but what if you want... Read More .

windows 8 features removed


Parental Controls

The parental control feature How To Use Windows’ Parental Controls To Restrict Your Child's Use Of The PC Computers can be intimidating to parents. Allowing children the opportunity to understand computers is important, but a PC can be used to explore curiosities that are inappropriate. They also can turn into massive time sinks... Read More found in previous versions of Windows is now gone. It’s now replaced by Microsoft Family Safety Windows Live Essentials For Windows 8 - What You Need To Know Microsoft is in the process of phasing out Windows Essentials, formerly known as Windows Live Essentials. Microsoft has included Modern-style replacements for many of the Essentials applications in Windows 8 – email, calendaring, contacts, messaging,... Read More , which is integrated with Microsoft accounts, gives you a web-based administration console, emails you reports about your children’s internet use if you like, and adds many other new features.

windows 8 features removed

Windows Aero Glass

The transparent, glass-like Windows 7 theme is also gone. You can get some transparency with a tool like Aero8Tuner Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Does your Windows 8 system look too bland with the default settings? You can customize it in a variety of ways, changing a variety of backgrounds and colors -- whether on the Start screen, lock... Read More , but don’t bother. This doesn’t work very well and, even if it did, Microsoft removed the blur effect so it’s not as slick-looking as it is in Windows 7. Microsoft went out of their way to strip the Windows Aero theme engine out of Windows 8.

features missing in windows 8


Windows Classic Theme

The Windows Classic theme has been removed. You can approximate it by using a user-created Windows Classic theme, but it’s nowhere near the same. This theme is essentially a tweaked version of the High Contrast theme, as many elements of the default theme can’t be tweaked.

You can also install a variety of other interesting third-party themes for Windows 8 Amazing Windows 8 Themes You Need To See Windows has always had an active community of enthusiasts who customize everything about it, including its desktop theme. Although Microsoft tries to prevent this, Windows 8's desktop can be themed just like Windows 7's. We've... Read More if you don’t like the included theme. This requires overriding the protection against installing third-party themes on Windows 8, just as it did on Windows 7, Vista, and XP.


Do you depend on another feature that’s missing in Windows 8? How did you get it back? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  1. microsoftbitcher
    July 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    The only thing I miss is the Backgammon (Microsoft games). thx

  2. Gail
    July 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    My Windows 8 comes with "Movie Maker" which used to be called "Live Movie Maker". What I am looking for is the simple "Movie Maker". No editing capabilities but had the time line and a much simpler way to cut video, move them around in position (I think it was called a time line) add titles and so on.

  3. James Clement van Pelt
    June 4, 2013 at 2:23 am

    The piece of Old Windows (XP to 7) I really, really, really miss is Microsoft Office Picture Manager. It was a nearly ideal blend of basic graphic software and photo gallery, but was neat (vs. bloat) and did exactly what I needed without much ado. Its functions are now spread out all over the place. No doubt there are powerful (expensive) alternatives, but MS Picture Manager's functionality was just right--as was the price (included with Office). Would that they would see the light and include it in MSW 8.1...

  4. Andre Grindstaff
    May 27, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Windows 8 has few good things, but there's to things that Microsoft took away. I wish I could go back to Windows 7. :(

  5. DalSan M
    May 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    What I miss is being able to disable the indexing service through disabling the Windows Search service without disabling the Windows media sharing service. I have an older free version of TVersity and there are several other apps that can stream media content from the computer to other devices, but some devices behave better with Windows media streaming service, and if I don't have to install another streaming app, I'd rather avoid it. Oh well, it's either suffer from the indexing service or install other media streaming apps.

  6. Chris Marcoe
    May 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Why am I not surprised that the Start button is the first thing on the list? Probably because its the first thing everyone notices and complains about.

  7. null
    May 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Windows 8 great for laptop/notebook, but I like Windows 7 for desktop!

  8. Scott M
    May 21, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I don't miss anything.I was always using other apps instead of Windows features.There is Freeware for everything that is missing.

  9. David Moreira
    May 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

    The Windows Classic theme on Windows 8 looks... Wrong.

  10. Pooky Joralyn
    May 21, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I don't really care about these things. Unified Search, Aero, Classic theme, Start Menu, Parental control, Gadgets, I hardly use these so it doesn't matter to me. The only thing I care is MCE, but luckily I have the product key offered by Microsoft back in January :D

  11. Nevzat A
    May 21, 2013 at 6:40 am

    The most important and gone feature for me is dvd playback.

    • Doc
      May 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      Grab yourself a copy of VLC, or one of the codec packs that includes Media Player Classic. Either will get you DVD playback, and, with a few tweaks, Blu-Ray playback.

      • Nevzat A
        May 22, 2013 at 6:15 am

        That's what I do currently. I have all the alternatives :) Anyway, thanks Doc.

  12. Jeffrey John Imutan
    May 21, 2013 at 4:56 am

    there is no turning back to previous versions of windows. bummer. I need to restore to windows 7 but i cannot. please help

  13. John Penland
    May 21, 2013 at 4:54 am

    IIRC, they advised disabling gadgets entirely in all versions of Windows, because of serious vulnerabilities that they were not going to fix.

    It seems a little silly to recommend opening your self up to remote code execution.

    • Doc
      May 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      The problem was *local* code execution, in the form of malicious code in the Gadget's Javascript, and that only applied to third-party gadgets. The gadgets in the included Microsoft gadgets (pre-installed) and genuine Microsoft gadgets from the Gadget Gallery are just fine. Microsoft killed the Gadget ecosystem because it was too much of a hassle to patrol every Gadget in the Gallery, just like iOS and Android Apps occasionally see "rogue" apps.

      • John Penland
        May 22, 2013 at 3:01 am

        Yes, I'm aware that it was code execution, that is how the gadgets worked. They were just little bits of javascript, html, and css that displayed on your desktop. The problem is, that gadgets from unsafe sources could alter their functionality at any time, which makes it a no-brainer to disable them.

        However, since there is NO official source for gadgets anymore*, the only way to stay safe when installing a gadget is if you can read the code, and determine that it does not have any vulnerabillities in it. Not even official gadgets are safe from this(unless they were previously installed), because they were very easy to open and alter functionality.

        Now, there is no point to them. You can use Rainmeter or another system monitoring app. You can also use apps from the store if you're on windows 8. Skins from official galleries are supposed to be safe, as are apps in the windows store.

        As for why they were discontinued, well, aside from being unsafe, they weren't ever given much attention to begin with. Microsoft started moving away from them in 7 when they got rid of the sidebar, before advising that they be disabled entirely after 8 was released.


  14. null
    May 21, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Great. Now someone should inform Microsoft before Ballmer sinks the ship.

  15. null
    May 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

    I know how to keep all these features...Windows 7... Best OS Microsoft ever made... Bunch O sill rabbits and their Windows 8

    • Pyrilampes
      May 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Or you could buy a Mac or switch to Linux and never have to read technical bulletins and do troubleshooting again. Granted Linux does require some additional skills.

      • Chris Marcoe
        May 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm


      • Boris
        May 26, 2013 at 1:53 am

        And there it is, took me only three seconds to find a troll on a post about an OS. A little longer than usual, I must say.

  16. Kathleen Elliott
    May 21, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Windows live Movie Maker, I love this program and have made several family movies from old pictures. Microsoft has taken the button out for Burn a DVD.
    I would like to have the button back, is this possible... I like windows 8 although I can't possibly see why they needed to change Windows 7. so smart with computers and all that goes with it. But don't they know... If it's not broken ...It doesn't need fixing.
    I eagerly await your reply.
    Kind regards Kathleen

    • danny6114
      May 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Download Windows live essentials, movie maker is included.