Get Great Windows 8 Features Without the Upgrade [Opinion]

James Bruce 04-11-2012

windows 8 features


Windows 8 was officially unleashed on the world on 26th October; I’m going to assume you either attended or held your own mini launch party, because that’s what everyone does every time a new version of Windows is released.

However, we understand there are some of you who can’t afford the “upgrade”, so here are 5 tips to get the best features of Windows 8 on your shoddy old Windows 7 machine, right now.

Minimum Requirement: A sense of humor…

The Essential TouchScreen Look and Feel

As you’ve probably heard, Windows 8 introduces 63 new gesture based controls for every system function from adjusting the brightness to sending an email to your aunt (not to be confused with tweeting a picture of your cat – these are very similar gestures).

So, to get that essential Windows 8 look, simply scrunch up a small piece of greaseproof paper, dip in the leftover bacon fat from your morning fry up, and follow the handy chart below to emulate the most common gesture marks.


windows 8 features

Now when visitors see your screen, they’ll instantly exclaim “Oh! You’re running Windows 8 too!”, and you needn’t feel left out. Make sure they don’t actually try to touch the screen though, obviously.

features of windows 8

“Simple” Interface

Love the look of Metro, sorry – Modern UI – or whatever [Broken URL Removed] it’s called now? This one’s easy. If you have an old AOL CD lying from 1996, simply install it and do all your browsing from the kids portal; no one will ever know the difference.


features of windows 8

If you don’t have an AOL CD handy, just follow these easy steps:

  • Right click on your desktop and enable desktop “gadgets”. Drag as many as you can onto the desktop until you have a screen full of pointless crap you’ll never need (but hey, it’s dynamic!)
  • Set the background to a solid color
  • Use a high-contrast color scheme

features of windows 8

Hey presto! I bet you’re thinking “How did you ever know the date before without it being in a large sized font?” – I know, that discreet and “space saving” date indicator in the taskbar just wasn’t enough, was it? Thanks, Microsoft.


‘Un-folderize’ Your Start Menu

Is your start menu currently organised into an old style folder-style system? Yeah – get rid of that. Just move everything up to one level, and you’ll be able to browse all your applications in that new Windows 8 style in no time.

windows 8 features preview

Kill that pesky Start menu

One of the best features of Windows 8 is arguably the removal of the start menu, freeing up valuable taskbar space for all those desktop apps you’ll have running. StartKiller does the same in Windows 7 though – why bother upgrading!

windows 8 features preview


Limit yourself to Android apps only – with BlueStacks

When consumers purchase a Windows 8 RT tablet, they’ll have a pleasant surprise in store for them – in that they’ll only being able to run apps from the Windows 8 Store! You can experience this pleasure too by installing BlueStacks Bluestacks: Run Android Apps On Windows PC Read More and then creating a limited user account with only access to that software.  Say goodbye to all your old Windows software; and make sure to mash the keys when setting the password on the Admin account just so you aren’t tempted to go back and use any of that “productivity” software you used to own. Hey, ANGRY BIRDS!

windows 8 features preview

Enable a Lock Screen

Hasn’t it always annoyed you that your PC just goes straight to your desktop when you turn it on? It doesn’t even show a big picture first, or a redundant clock and calendar. Windows 8 fixes that by introducing a great new lock-screen, which also enables you to practice the drag-up-from-bottom gesture before you can type in a password.

While you can’t actually get the gesture features (see earlier advice on using bacon fat), you can set your screensaver to lock your PC and require a password every 15 minutes, which will achieve the same kind of experience. It’s ok – you can thank me later.

Get Great Windows 8 Features Without the Upgrade [Opinion] win7 lock

Turn your Mouse 90º

Windows 8 does away with the traditional up and down mouse wheel scrolling, and instead makes things scroll horizontally. Whilst you can’t easily change your Windows 7 apps to do this, you can get the same perpendicular movement feel by simply turning your mouse 90º (either left or right is fine). Now when you scroll left and right, your application will naturally move up up and down! Any Windows 8 users who comes to visit will pick it up immediately and feel right at home on your desktop.

windows 8 features

What other tips do you have for making your Windows 7 desktop behave like Windows 8? Do share your awesome tips in the comments!

In case it wasn’t obvious – I’m just kidding guys – please don’t get so upset in the comments and start screaming bloody Mac-fanboy murder. I use an Android now anyway Why My Next Phone Is Not An iPhone, From An Apple Fanboy [Opinion] I have been called an Apple fanboy on numerous occasions, so I may as well accept the moniker and move on. Yes, I love Apple products, and I shudder at the thought of touching Windows.... Read More .

Image Credit: Twitter/Katztsu

Related topics: Windows 7, Windows 8.

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  1. Alan Craig
    February 28, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    I just have 4 things to say to this.
    First) Mmmmmmmm bacon fat
    Second) I kind of like the cheesy AOL layout for kids and wish I could find something a little like that for our 2 year old
    Third) I like the look of the screen covered in gadgets because it's full of bright colors and bright colors hold my attention
    Fourth) Thanks for a funny article James :)

  2. Hunbuhbhuygb Ygygbgybygb
    December 12, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I rather get the cheap windows 8 and not torture myself

  3. Giggity Goebbels
    December 12, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I am now convinced to upgrade lol

  4. Frank Zedmore
    December 10, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Fun article!

  5. Somaiya Ebrahim
    November 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    funny, but the suggestions are good. i like the windows 8 interface maybe i will 'unfolderise' and 'kill' that pesky start menu.. :)

  6. Terafall
    November 10, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I thought something like Omnimo will be on the list

    • James Bruce
      November 10, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Intersting find. If this was a legit article on how to get Windows 8 feature , that would totally be on the list.

  7. Eric Gay
    November 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Love the use of an AOL CD, but I'll have to deal with my kitchen table rocking while I load from it.

  8. Yudono Ra
    November 8, 2012 at 9:31 am

    nice feel of the brand new interface, but i don't think it will be enough to make me shift to win 8 tough :). i still love my win 7

  9. Ihtisham ul haq haq
    November 8, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Yes it does require a sense of humor..:D

  10. Timothy Liem
    November 7, 2012 at 2:33 am

    hahaha.. genius is genius. won't leave Seven behind for Eight. Gonna move completely to Linux world..

  11. Megan Pettrey-Smith
    November 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I almost thought to self - Who in the hell still has a AOL CD around?! LOL

  12. Raj Sarkar
    November 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    EPIC funny articles it was! :D

  13. Boni Oloff
    November 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I think i am not going to make my Windows 7 to be look like Windows 9. There is nothing interesting about Windows 8 in my head.

  14. Blake Andreasen
    November 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

    The biggest flaw with previous versions of Windows is the convenient Start button and list of open programs. Windows 8 fixes this by hidding the Start button and settings off to the sides of the screen ( which is usful if you hate multi-tasking), but a similar workaround in Windows 7 is available. Right-click your Taskbar and select Properties. Move the task bar the left side of the screen and set to auto-hide. That way it will only annoyingly pop-up when you dont need it. Now your screen will have more blank space available because those useful icons will now be hidding..

  15. raymond mcnatt
    November 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm


  16. Dhegreat Vinayagam
    November 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Oh no !!! Wasted Rs.2000 and using windows 8 :( But its okay. i will go back to windows 7 and i will go with these steps .

  17. mmaduekwe stanley
    November 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    the whole gesture stuff is a nice innovation.

  18. Anomaly
    November 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Great article. I'm detecting by your tone that you think Windows 8 is a total joke? I couldn't agree more.

    The whole point of Metro, or what ever they call it now, is to do away with regular Windows and have everybody use the mobile version of Windows and be locked into all the restrictions that go with it. Micro crap would love nothing more than to pull an Apple and get away with it. They obviously couldn't do this in one shot so windows 8 is step one in the process.

    Windows 7 will be my last version of Windows unless they pull their heads out of their asses

    • Anonymous
      November 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      kudos on that...

  19. josemon maliakal
    November 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm


  20. Yiz Borol
    November 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I was so confused, these aren't good tips. then towards the end you got really loopy and I realized it was a joke.

    • Muo TechGuy
      November 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Wait, smearing bacon fat on your screen didn't give it away?!

      • Yiz Borol
        November 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

        honestly I completely didn't understand what was going on there so just skipped it...

  21. Ghani Ggani
    November 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    it's nice if u re bored

  22. Douglas Mutay
    November 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Hahahaha! you got me!

  23. Boni Oloff
    November 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    When i see this article, i think this is a really Windows 8 Like Customization Killer. Haha..
    I really like the touchscreen by the way.

  24. zamira
    November 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Hahaha, great article. And thanks for sharing.
    I guess you guys may also interested in MiniTool Windows 8 Disk Partition Tool, it's free.

  25. Roystan Ang
    November 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

    the gadget idea was good... haha

  26. Chris Hoffman
    November 5, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I wouldn't be surprised if Bluestacks were a better option than using the Windows Store. (Bluestacks certainly has more apps.)

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      November 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Interesting idea. :D

  27. Ahmed Khalil
    November 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

    i do not know why i suddenly remember MAC operating system when i saw the screen shots of Windows 8 at the above article

  28. Ahmed Khalil
    November 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

    i do not know why i suddenly remember MAC operating system when i saw the screen shots of Windows 8 at the above article

  29. Raghav Gupta
    November 5, 2012 at 4:08 am

    haha nice..
    enjoyed reading this...:D

  30. renato
    November 5, 2012 at 3:53 am

    That's *genius* XD

  31. Zhong Jiang
    November 5, 2012 at 3:26 am

    Well, you couldn't add the hardware improvements that's been configured exclusively in Windows 8, such as improving boot time, more security measures..etc. The article has a good point on the design of the UI, since it shows differences on Microsoft's previous products which inhibits the same design for years. Not saying that it's not usable for a consumer but this adoption is weird.

  32. Rajaa Chowdhury
    November 5, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Hmmm............. I'd rather spend the $30 . :) :P

  33. Dan Worwood
    November 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Hahahaha, I got a good laugh

  34. Jon Smith
    November 5, 2012 at 12:37 am

    yay someone else who shares my disdain for the Metro or WIndows 8

  35. Debarshi Bhattacharjee
    November 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Now thats funny..
    However Windows 8,is not that bad...but not awesome too...

  36. Richard Steven Hack
    November 4, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I've never understood the whole "gestures" thing. I don't use them anywhere. It's never made sense to me that one would want the system to react to whatever random movement you might have accidentally made. My guess is that people who use gestures spend half their time recovering their screens when they screw them up.

    My opinion of Windows 8 (disclosure: which I admit to not having tried yet) is that the interface is likely to be confusing to a LOT of people in corporate environments who (as someone on Slashdot just said yet AGAIN to justify never changing to Linux) HATE CHANGE, and therefore the corps will be REALLY slow to upgrade. Home users who buy new PCs loaded with 8 won't be happy either and will probably downgrade to Windows 7 for as long as they can until Microsoft disables the ability.

    All of this will end with Microsoft releasing a (allegedly discontinued) "service pack" which allows anyone to implement the "Classic" interface with a few clicks. Thus admitting defeat without actually ever saying so, in classic Microsoft PR style.

    But it won't stop 8 from being adopted better than Vista was. Vista was a dog because basic things like drivers were ignored. But 8 will not be as rapidly adopted as 7 was. (And yes, there are still people out there screaming to keep XP - which is sad because that OS was an utter nightmare of unreliability, insecurity, and stupidity.)

    • James Bruce
      November 5, 2012 at 8:48 am

      I'm currently reviewing the surface and I gotta say the most annoying this about gestures is the inconcistency - the touch gestures aren't the same as the mouse ones (like you can't drag from the corner for a start menu, for instance). Just, weird.

      • Rajaa Chowdhury
        November 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        So James,

        When is the Surface featuring as a Giveaway. :)

        • Muo TechGuy
          November 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

          As soon as I finish the write-up ;)

    • Doc
      November 10, 2012 at 5:25 am

      Even Linux isn't immune to change: Recent versions of Ubuntu have put the window control buttons on the left, Mac-style, and droves of users have revolted over the Unity "Metro-like" touch interface (I won't use Ubuntu for those reasons; if I ever install Linux again, it will be Mint or Cinnamon, two of the better Ubuntu-based distros).

      BTW, gestures are essential on a touch-based interface; ask to try out a friend's iOS or Android device to see them in action. Since most Windows 8 machines will have a mouse and keyboard, Microsoft seems to be jumping the gun; it only makes sense on Windows RT and their Surface tablets (and their competitors)...and those devices don't make sense anyway....

  37. Paul Harris
    November 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Bet those two red-heads in the image are like the red-head that pushes Wendys burgers, but never eats one ; they probably don't use Win 8 either.

    • James Bruce
      November 5, 2012 at 8:50 am

      They're not actual redheads either; they're Japanese, I believe taken in Akihabara, and pure Japanese will only ever have black hair ;)

      Wait - is having red hair a requirement for working at Wendys? Disclaimer: I'm a Brit, this is a genuine question.

  38. Temmuz Onur Deniz Güzel
    November 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Are you kidding me?!? Oh.. ok.

  39. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    OKKK... even AOL?? LOL!!

  40. Yash Desai
    November 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    i was thinking what features? lol

  41. Yash Desai
    November 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    this is fantastic

  42. Keefe Kingston
    November 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    What an awesome set of suggestions! I'll get to it implementing them on my laptop! XD Gotta train for the day when I'm forced to upgrade to Windows 8. Which fortunately, shouldn't be for at least 5 more years.

  43. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Now I know another creative use of BlueStack
    By the way, did you really make the faux touchscreen?

    • James Bruce
      November 5, 2012 at 8:46 am

      Lol, no - that was 'shopped!

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        November 6, 2012 at 5:44 am

        Oh, too bad.
        You should so it one day. Maybe April Mop.

  44. RG
    November 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I disabled adblock on makeuseof for this??

    Just kidding, nice one. My AOL CD hasn't been recycled yet ;)

  45. Adam Campbell
    November 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    great article

  46. Arron Walker
    November 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I was actually looking forward to an informative article :( I got a chuckle though, so I guess that will have to do

  47. Indronil Mondal
    November 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    hahaha thats funny