No straight to the desktop booting in Windows 8?

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 7, 2012
Updated • May 21, 2014
Windows, Windows 8

News made the round yesterday that Microsoft seems to have shut down some methods that Windows 8 Beta users have used to bypass the startpage of the operating system to boot straight into the desktop. Up until now, users of Windows 8 could boot to the desktop using a number of workarounds. I'm for instance using the Start8 software to boot directly into the Windows 8 desktop when the computer is turned on.

According to the article, all of these features won't function anymore in the retail version of Windows 8. I have a hard time believing the claims made in the ZDnet article for a number of reasons. First, the author of the article does not appear to have access to the Windows 8 RTM yet, and relies solely on another author to verify those claims.

According to book author Rafael Rivera, users cannot boot straight to the desktop in Windows 8. The example given however only refers to the shortcut trick that I have linked above as well. It fails to mention if other methods, like that provided by Start8, have been tested as well by the author. The article points out at the end that third party solutions like Start8 seem to work just fine under the Windows 8 RTM build.

And there you have it. It is still possible to boot right into the desktop. While you may need to use a program like Start8, or any of the myriad alternatives to do just that, you can still bypass the startpage if you want to.

And even if you do not want to install a software for that, the desktop itself is just a click or a keyboard shortcut away. Considering that the majority of IT workers boot into the PC once a day or less, it should not really be that of an issue for them.

Sure, it would have been very helpful if Microsoft would have added a new entry to the Group Policy to bypass the startpage in Windows 8, which many organizations and companies would surely have activated to avoid having to train their employees extensively.

I certainly would have liked to see such an option, and it is not clear why Microsoft has not added one to the operating system to help out its enterprise customers. A feasible reason could be the company's drive to establish the startpage and Windows store in the Windows world. If a large part of consumers and companies bypass the startpage, they won't come into contact with the new part of the Windows world.

Update: Apparently, there are other options available to boot directly to the desktop. You basically have to load the 4desktop.exe file to the system startup to get straight to the desktop. Works in the Windows 8 RTM.

Update 2: Newer versions of Windows 8 support straight to desktop booting. To enable it if it is not enabled by default, do the following:

  1. Right-click on the desktop taskbar and select properties from the context menu.
  2. Switch to the navigation tab and check the "when i sign in or close all apps on  a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start" box.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. monjur said on August 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    i think it should be more better than w7……..likely the amazing features of w8

  2. berttie said on August 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I had hoped that all this Metro nonsense might just be overblown market spin and that the RTM versions would have an easily configurable permanent off switch. Seems not, maybe just the opposite.

    Will I wait for Win9? Yep, but without much hope that M$ will have seen the light by then. It could go even further down this idiotic path. :(

  3. ilev said on August 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Windows 8 RTM Chinese versions (32/64 bit) leaked to day.

  4. Nerdebeu said on August 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    4desktop.exe don’t work very well, for me.

    Tested on virtual machine with RTM, I must have a password if not, it doesn’t work, even if I change the task (startup instead of log on), then briefly, the start screen appears and panelon the right (charm bar?, it is really too fast to see what it is), then comes the desktop.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Pretty sure we get improved options once the final version comes out.

  5. Leslie said on August 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Folks its pretty simple – if you do not like it then do not install it. Personally I think that Microsoft will provide a Windows 7 -> Windows 9 upgrade path, so I am going to wait.

    For those of you on XP or Vista, it might be smart to buy an upgrade for 40 bucks just to protect your upgrade path but I still would not bother to install it unless I really had to. Its a shame you cannot use a Windows 8 activation key with Windows 7 then it would be really sweet.

    To be honest as a developer I love the idea of a uniform platform across devices, but as a user I hate the “Metro” interface on my desktop.

  6. Paul B. said on August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Why is MS going out of its way to reduce computers to the level of phones? Win8 originally was heralded as a two-track OS, and computer users wouldn’t be forced into small-screen mode. But incrementally that flexibility has been taken away.

    I don’t want a phone, neither do I want a touch screen. My machines are set up to work as efficiently as possible.

    Win8 has some nice enhancements under the surface, but at every point it is harder to get to them. If these reports reflect reality (and MS “declined to comment” for the ZDNet article) then Win8 deserves to fail, regardless of price, on MS arrogance.

    1. Jim said on August 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      @Paul B. I think they’re trying to provide a uniform interface no matter what type of device you’re using. You will not need to know different ways to complete a task based on your computing platform (table, PC, phone, etc). Once you learn Win8, you can use it anywhere.

      Is that a good idea? I can argue it either way, but generally I don’t think it is the killer app they think it is. I do different things on each platform, so a uniform interface isn’t really important to me. I’m planning on sticking with Win7 until we get a look at Win9. I tend to agree with Yoav too. Learning a new OS every couple of years is getting old.

  7. RG said on August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Even if the metro screen is the best thing ever blocking users (for monetary or whatever reason) from doing anything, especially something that is already available with a click, is dead wrong. I don’t think that is even debatable. If they really actively attempt to block a ‘clickable’ event Windows 8 has to and deserves to be a flop.

  8. ilev said on August 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Mary Jo Foley is a very reliable source for anything Microsoft.

    …The final release-to-manufacturing (RTM) builds of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 have been leaking to the Web for last few days. Those with access to the final builds are discovering the final tweaks Microsoft made to the product since the last public test build, Windows 8 Release Preview, was delivered. One of those tweaks is the decision to block users from setting up their Windows 8 machines to boot straight to the Desktop, circumventing the tiled Start screen…

    I have written month ago that Microsoft will block any attempts to boot in the desktop. I am sure Microsoft will block any third party app like start8 too , in future updates.

  9. Yoav said on August 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Personally, I am sick of learning a new windows OS every 2 years, with no actual benefit to me, the end user.
    I bet MS did not bother to finally improve the system explorer, the clipboard, or the control panel (program removal sucks), for instance, so that they are at least competitive with other such products that are in the market.

  10. XP said on August 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Win8 is the new Vista

    Avoid like the plague, stick with superior XP

    1. Doc said on August 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Support for XP will only extend to sometime in 2014. On the other hand, Windows 7 will be supported 18 years longer than that, and has become wonderfully stable since SP1. There is much more support for Win7 64-Bit than there ever was for XP 64 (which you need in order to use more than approximately 3.5GB RAM) and support for SSDs and hard drives bigger than 2TB.

      Win7 for me, going forward (despite the fact that I’m currently stuck on XP on this machine…)

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