There are many things you can do to disable some of Windows 8’s common annoyances and bring back some of Windows 7’s functionality. However, for some you’ll have to install third-party tools and for others you need to fiddle with the system’s settings.
These tweaks are not difficult to perform, but they are time-consuming. There’s a simple way to have them all (or at least most of them) within a single app. With RetroUI ($4.95, free 7-day trial) you can easily boot straight to Desktop, disable Hot Corners and add a Start Button among other useful features.
1. Download and install RetroUI (for Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, depending which OS you’re using). Please make sure to choose the right version for your operating system.
2. As soon as the installation is complete, the program will offer the possibility of adding the RetroUI Start Button to the Taskbar.
3. Double-click on the RetroUI Settings icon to begin configuring the application.
4. In the RetroUI General tab you can enable Boot to Desktop option (and skip the Start Screen at login), Hide Hot Corners and use the Windows key to open or close the Start Menu.
5. It’s not hard to guess what you can do in the Start Menu tab. This tab offers several options to customize your Start menu. There are two layouts you can choose from: the classic Windows 7 style and the ModernUI Style. For the Windows 7 style Start menu you can set the number of items displayed in the Start Menu, show/hide Metro Apps, show/hide Windows folders such as Recent Items, Control Panel, Run…etc. and set default options for Search and Shutdown.
The ModernUI Style layout doesn’t include these options, instead you can only set the Start Menu color.
6. The TabletView is another Menu that you can have on the Taskbar, specifically designed for use with touch-enabled devices. In the related tab you can set the size of the TabletView menu and its icons.
7. The Taskbar Settings tab lets you change the Start Menu icon and show/hide the TabletView icon.
8. The Enforce tab is only available in the Windows 8 version of RetroUI. This brings a very useful option of showing the Taskbar in the Start Screen and also adds the capability of running Metro Apps in resizable windows.
Note: If your system is Windows 8.1 and you want to run Metro Apps in windowed mode, there is another application, called ModernMix that offers the same functionality (read our tutorial on how to run Metro Apps in Desktop mode using ModernMix).
9. While the Language tab is self-explanatory, in the Advanced tab users can backup and restore their Start Menu Pinned Favorites, very useful for reinstalls and such.
RetroUI packs a nice set of features, but is still in need of some polishing. Firstly, the app fails to show the Start Button from the first run, hence it prompts the user to correct the problem. Also, when you change the Start Button layout from Windows 7 to ModernUI style, it might take a few clicks/taps to open the Start Menu (at least this is what happened during our tests).