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How to banish Metro from your Windows 8 PC forever

Brad Chacos | Feb. 19, 2013
Windows 8 is great—if you ditch its Live Tiles and silly swipe gestures. Here's how to do just that and get back to clean desktop living.

In a world exploding with tablets and touchscreens, Microsoft's decision to saddle Windows 8 with the finger-friendly Modern interface formerly known as Metro makes a lot of sense--for Microsoft. But if you're among the majority of Windows users who aren't using a tablet or a touchscreen, the focus on Live Tiles and mobile-centric apps is more of a frustration than a feature. Vexingly, Windows 8 is riddled with sneaky ways to drag you out of the desktop and dump you on that shifting, shiny Start screen.

Windows 8 and its controversial interface will come preinstalled on practically every computer sold over the next few years, but fear not! Die-hard desktop jockeys don't have to learn to stop worrying and love the Live Tiles.

Here's a step-by-step guide to banishing the Modern interface from your Windows 8 life. Once it's gone, you might just come to appreciate Windows 8 even more than you do Windows 7. I have.

Set the stage

Given the Modern interface's deep hooks in Windows 8, it's hardly surprising that cutting the cord isn't an instantaneous one-snip process. Every major program you might need for everyday use--from Mail to Messaging to Video--shows up in Modern app form, rather than as a proper piece of desktop software. So before you can excise Modern, you have to find some desktop alternatives for the default apps.

Your critical mix will undoubtedly differ, but I found that I could satisfy my basic needs with Thunderbird, a free email client that blows the pants off the Windows 8 Mail app; Digsby, a versatile IM client that works with a cornucopia of chatting services (unlike the Windows 8 Messaging app); the Spotify desktop app, to replace the sultry streaming tunes of the Windows 8 Music app; the SkyDrive desktop app, which is far more flexible than its Modern app counterpart; and Google Chrome. (Sure, Windows 8 includes a desktop version of Internet Explorer, but I prefer Google's browser.) If you want to be able to play DVDs on your Windows 8 machine--something that Windows Media Player doesn't do by default--I recommend picking up VLC along with the other things you're busily downloading.

Once you've compiled a hefty stash of desktop programs, you'll want to make the most-used ones readily accessible, since Windows 8 lacks a Start button. Cluttering up your desktop with shortcuts is one approach, but I prefer to pin icons for my most-used programs to the taskbar. Right-click a program and select Pin to Taskbar to do just that. I use the same trick to pin a Control Panel icon to the taskbar.

 

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