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Running Windows 8? This might just save your sanity!!

Michael Brown   July 12 2012 05:29:18 PM
Windows 8 Metro on the Desktop is the biggest design abortion since the Ribbon.  I can't speak to their Surface tablets because they're vapourware at this point.  I've never used one, and neither for that matter has anybody else outside of Microsoft, not least the numerous tech journalists offering "hands on" reviews without ever actually using a live, switched-on device!

But I digress...  Back on your PC, at least you have the traditional Windows Desktop lurking there behind Metro.  But Microsoft has managed to stuff that up too by removing the Start Button Orb.  Yep, that's seventeen years of user habits tossed out of the window (pun intended) all in the name of ... well, whatever it is Microsoft's banging on about this week.  Apparently, Microsoft's "telemetry data" tells them that nobody ever uses the Start Orb anyway, so users won't miss it when it's gone!  Do you need any further confirmation of how completely this company is screwed?

So here's what you would normally see on the left-hand side of the start bar for the Windows 8 Desktop, assuming, of course, that you've managed to find your way to the latter in the first place:

Windows 8 Start bar

There's a little gap where the Start Orb should used to be.  If you hover your mouse down there somewhere, you'll get a pop-up that offers to take you back to the main Metro screen; you know, the one that you can't stand.


In earlier versions of the Windows 8 beta, there was a registry hack that you could use to restore the Start Orb, but Microsoft soon closed that loophole.  Thankfully though, a project called Start8 has appeared to fill the gap.  Download and installed Start8, which is a freebie at this point anyway, and here's how your Windows 8 Desktop will look:

Windows 8 with Start orb!

Yippee!  The Start Orb is back! Clicking on it gets you a the pop-up menu(s) shown above; it's kind of a metrofied version of what you had in earlier Windows versions.

Not only that, but when you install Start8, it will ask if you want to go straight to the Desktop every time that you log in - another feature that Microsoft has deemed to be a no-no, backed up by further "telemetry" data, no doubt.  Right-click on the Start Orb to configure that option if you forgot to choose it at install time.

It's far from perfect: there's no "please don't let me see Metro ever again, not as long as I might live" option, but it's a start.
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