Retro-customizing Windows 8 to feel like Windows 7

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Simon Bream for Imaginet

In previous articles I have discussed the difficulty that many windows fans have in getting used to the new Windows 8 interface and its system of operating. Usability experts are also finding the new version of Windows to be less user-friendly than precious versions of the operating system. As Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group states,

“Windows 8 is optimized for content consumption rather than content production and multitasking. Whereas content consumption can easily be done on other media (tablets and phones), production and multitasking are still best suited for PCs. Windows 8 appears to ignore that”.

(http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/gadgetbox/usability-expert-finds-windows-8-pc-confusing-954680)

These tips are intended to provide alternatives and options that may help to soften the transition to Windows 8.

1. You can bypass the start screen and disable hotspots in Windows 8. If you prefer to go back to the older start screen, a quick download will do the trick. Download the   Skip Metro Suite from http://winaero.com/download.php?view.33. This free application can disable the start screen as well as disabling the edge panels of the Windows 8 interface.

2. Many users still find the absence of a start button to be a major annoyance in Windows 8.  For a small outlay you can get this all back with Start8 (http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/). However, a free version the Classic Start Menu part of Classic Shell  (http://www.classicshell.net/) is also available.  Essentially, Classic shell brings back features from older versions of Windows that were removed from the interface.

3. If you don’t feel comfortable with the new ribbon-like user interface added to the File Explorer in Windows 8 this can be disabled with WinAero’s Ribbon Disabler tool for Windows 8. (http://winaero.com/comment.php?comment.news.20). To quote the WinAoro site, “Ribbon Disabler will allow you to disable Ribbon in Windows 8 Explorer and preserve Paint and Wordpad working. Also it has an option to restore ribbon”.

4. If you like you can also restore the old Windows briefcase. Many users do not need to make use of cloud services like SkyDrive. While this is a very useful service you might not want or need your files to be synchronized with other computers. If you enjoyed the Windows briefcase feature it is possible to get it back but this process involves some changes to the Windows registry. However, Winareo provides as very useful web page that simplifies this process. Go to How to restore the missing Briefcase feature in Windows 8 RTM at http://winaero.com/blog/how-to-restore-the-missing-briefcase-feature-in-windows-8-rtm/ and follow the instruction.

5. Many Windows users in the past have relied on the desktop gadgets that were an intrinsic and useful part of the previous Windows experience.  These gadgets and their functionality can be restored via a free utility called 8GadgetPack (http://8gadgetpack.bplaced.net/). After installation this utility initiates a new sidebar with the full functionality of the desktop gadgets in the Windows 8 environment.

 

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