This article is a recipe for how to make the new "Metro" interface disappear to the greatest extent possible.
At the end you will still be able to run "Metro" apps if you want, but most of the time you'll be using the desktop. In other words, things will work much as they did under Windows 7.
Windows 8 has many new features that enhance greatly the "legacy" side of things. The most important to me is the fast boot time. Ultrabooks do not have good sleep-time battery usage like the Macbook Air does, so to preserve battery, I shutdown rather than sleep whenever practical. Under Windows 7 my boot time was about 30 seconds, which is annoying. Under Windows 8, boot time is 6 seconds! Only the fastest of my Chromebooks boots that fast. (In defense of Chromebooks, my Ultrabook has much faster hardware in it, still Microsoft should be praised for getting Windows 8 to boot that fast.)
However, life using Windows 8 was not all roses, the other day I was doing the relatively simple task of importing pictures from my camera. Under Windows 7 and MacOS, I would import the pictures, use the standard folder viewer to sort through the pictures, rename the files to reflect what was in the picture, then create an "Event" directory with the pictures I wanted, then move the directory to Google Drive for archiving. Windows 8 made a mess of this, every time I wanted to view more than a thumbnail, I was forced into "Metro" mode to use the ridiculously underpowered and inefficient Photo app. Worse, when I finished, I could not just hit the back button. That would then return me to the "Metro" Start program, where I would need to click Desktop, then I would need to reselect the file I was dealing with. Because of the quick switch in environments, it was easy to forget which photo one was dealing with, or whether or not you wanted to keep it. It took like 5 times longer to do the task under Windows 8 than under Windows 7. This is not a new finding, for an expert's look at Windows 8's user interface problems see this article.
Frustrated, I tried various Linux versions on the notebook, but they boot slower and all had various hardware incompatibilities. Getting no joy there, I decided that I had to figure out how to rid myself of the "Metro" interface as much as possible. I have largely been successful, fixing the photo sorting problem for example.
Here is my solution so far:
Install Classic Shell
Configure Classic Shell to Turn Off the "Hot Corners"
- Right click on the Classic Shell start button
- Choose settings
- Click All Settings at the bottom of the screen
- Choose the Windows 8 Settings tab
- Set Disable Active Corners to All
Remove "Metro" Apps
- Right click in a background area
- Click "All Apps"
- Select a "Metro" app (such as Photo and Video) by right clicking on the App
- Then click Uninstall.
Switch to a Local Account (optional)If you did not choose a "local" account when you first setup Windows 8, you may want to do so now. If you are not using "Metro" apps, there seems to me to be little point in being attached to your Microsoft Live account. (You can switch back later if you need to do so.)
- Switch back to "Metro" mode (shift-click the Classic Shell button),
- Move your mouse to the bottom right and wait
- When the "Charms" bar pops out, click the Settings gear
- Click Change PC Settings
- Click Users
- Click "Switch to a Local Account" and follow the directions.
SummaryIn day to day usage this setup seems to make "Metro" disappear. The only place I know of exceptions is in some Settings (see for example, Switch to a Local Account above). Fortunately, none of these have to be done very often.
So far this is working well for me. If you stumble across another place Windows 8 sends you back to "Metro", leave a comment below!