Windows 8: Permanently Disable Tiled Start Screen

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's another question from a long-term reader:

"Hello to the crew at Infopackets,

I'm new to Windows 8 and I really miss the old Windows 7 user interface. Is there any way to make it so that every time I log into Windows 8, I see the traditional UI?

Thanks a million for all the news and information,

Maggie D."

My response:

Maggie, you're one of many people to complain about Windows 8's radically different user interface (UI), and to wonder if you can set things up so you never see it again. Fortunately, you can.

Windows 7 Explorer for Windows 8

If you're determined to ditch Windows 8's UI (previously known as 'Metro'), you will need to accept the advantages and disadvantages of a handy new program called 'Windows 7 Explorer for Windows 8', also known as 'Ex7forW8'.

Technically, Ex7forW8 is a Windows 'wrapper.' This means it won't dramatically change how your operating system functions, and it won't manipulate or modify any of your Windows 8 system files or protected registry entries.

But it will change how the new OS looks on your computer's display screen.

Ex7forW8 allows Windows 8 users to experience all of the benefits of upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8: they'll still have access to the faster boot time, the improved security features, and the SkyDrive cloud integration. (Source:

No Windows 8 UI Means More Memory

Another upside to Ex7forW8: it uses less computer memory than the standard Windows 8 UI, so you should notice an improvement in your system's overall performance.

The only major downsides to using Ex7forW8: First, Windows 8-specific applications will no longer be accessible, and second, multi-monitor taskbars won't work while the standard Windows 8 user interface is disabled.

Immersive hotkeys are also disabled and users may receive the occasional User Account Control (UAC) prompt. (Source:

If you're willing to accept these tradeoffs, then download Ex7forW8 and be advised that you will also need a Windows 7 installation DVD to complete the changeover.

To download Ex7forW8, click here. The link will redirect you to the My Digital Life forum where a brief installation guide is available.

If you make the changes and decide at some time in the future that you're not a fan of Ex7forW8, you can easily switch back to the standard Windows 8 user interface.

To do this, use the Start menu that accompanies your Ex7forW8 installation. First, click 'Programs' and then 'Features.' You would then initiate the process of uninstalling Ex7forW8 just as you would any other program.

If you have used a portable installation, then all you need to do is switch the shell to Windows 8 and delete the Ex7forW8 folder.

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