Archive for the ‘Windows 8’ Category.

How to add a “Start” shortcut in Windows 8 (or Where is start in windows 8)

Too many people are paying for software to provide a complete return the windows Start pop-up menu. Well, Start is still there in Windows 8, it is just a little different. It is not a pop-up menu. It is hidden by default and only shows when you move your cursor to the bottom left corner.

I think many people would be happy if they simply had a shortcut to the Apps screen, which is equivalent to All Programs.

Well, lets create a shortcut and put in on the task bar. Follow these steps.

Note: Alternately, you can download and extract the zip file from here:

Step 1 – Create the Windows 8 Apps Shortcut

  1. Right-click on the Desktop and click New | Shortcut.
  2. Where it prompts you to “Type the location of the item” enter this:
    %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f8-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}
  3. Click Next.
  4. Name the shortcut what ever you want. “Start” or “All Programs” or whatever, it really doesn’t matter.
  5. Click Finish.

Step 2 – Change the Icon for the Windows 8 Apps Shortcut

You may want to change the icon too.

  1. Right-click on your newly created shortcut and choose Properties.
  2. Click Change Icon…
  3. Select a different icon from the list or download your own .ico file and use it.

Step 3 – Drag the Windows 8 Apps Shortcut to the task bar

  1. Right-click on your newly created shortcut and choose Pin to taskbar.
  2. Now if you want this icon all the way on the left, click and drag it there.

Windows 8 Negativity Debunked!

I love BSD and Linux and as an Open Source guy since 2001, many people expect me to hate Microsoft.  Well, guess what? I don’t hate Microsoft at all. I love the technology. I love most technology. So unlike many, I am not religious about my operating system. I am completely happy to spin up a Windows Server where it makes sense and a FreeBSD/Linux server where that makes sense. I am even known to run a PC-BSD desktop and avoid paying for a commercial operating system.

Currently for my desktop, I run Windows 8.

I really, truly enjoy running Windows 8. I am running it on both my laptop and my desktop. I love the Metro interface and find it works quite well for me. I use it to easily find and run my applications, just as I used Start in Windows 7. I love having both a Metro and a Desktop interface as well as having both Metro and Desktop apps.

I hear general complaints on the web.

“I miss the Start bar.”
“It’s harder to launch my apps.”
“I hate the metro interface.”

Really. Why? It is actually easier to use.

“Start is missing.” – Debunked!

Is Start really missing? No. It is there, just it has to pop up. And guess what? It even says “Start”.

Start Icon

The difference between the Start button in previous versions and the Start button in Windows 8 is not a long list.

  1. You don’t see a start button/icon until you move to the cursor all the way to the bottom left corner. However, the image that pops up does say “Start”.
  2. The screen doesn’t pop up over your current desktop view, instead it opens using the full screen.
  3. It shows both desktop apps and metro apps.

Well, are these three differences that big of a deal. Of course not. The first two are not missing features, just a different way to view things. The last one is actually a feature add.

Unfortunately, there are haters out there. Those who are religious about their operating system. Each operating system has those who are nut-job religious. Yes, I’ve seen nut-jobs for Microsoft, Apple OSX and iOS, BSD, Linux, Unix, Android. Heck, I’ve even seen nut-jobs for just one flavor of Linux (Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Slackware, Symbios, etc…). So naturally when nut jobs see a little blood in the water they attack.

Can improvements be made? Yes. I see no reason that Start has to be hidden by default. Historically, hiding or showing things has been an option. It is really the lack of the option that is all Microsoft missed. If so, that is not a big deal at all.

“It’s harder to launch my apps.” – Debunked

Windows 8 is the operating system for launching Windows applications. Historically, you have been able to launch apps in the following manner:

  1. Directly click the executable.
  2. Click a shortcut you can place anywhere (folder or desktop or Start bar)
  3. Click Start then move the cursor to All Programs, move the cursor again, and then scroll through All Apps.
  4. In Windows 7, they added the feature to click Start, just type in the first part of the program and the search would find the application for you.

Has anything changed in Windows 8. No, it hasn’t. I can still do all three with Windows 8.  What is different.

  1. Clicking Start is displayed full-screen.
  2. Getting to All Apps doesn’t require a lot of scrolling, instead it is Click Start. Right-click and choose All Apps.

These again are not feature losses but simply different views.

Go ahead and click Start, type in “No” and see that Notepad immediately shows up.

Go ahead and click Start, type in “Cont” and see that Control Panel immediately shows up.

It functions the same as Windows 7.

Is there room

“I hate the metro interface.” – Not debunked!

So let’s start with the fact that generic statements like this are just opinion and too general to really do anything about. What do you hate? Do you hate the full screen? Do you hate the way Metro Apps are opened? Lets take this to a more granular level.

“I hate seeing the full screen when I click start.” – Just opinion.

Well, this is opinion. No one can debunk or not debunk this. Personally, I don’t care either way. It works well for me, so I have no complaints.

Is there room for improvement? Yes.

I would like an option to see this in full-screen or in a window. Then those that hate it opening as full screen don’t have to have it open as full screen.

I would also like to be able to set whether to see the Start screen or the Apps screen is displayed when I click Start. However, this feature is easy to add using a shortcut. I will link to a post on how to create a shortcut to the Apps screen. You could even name the shortcut Start and put in on the bottom left.

“I hate that opening a metro app takes the whole screen”  – Not Debunked a real problem but fixable

Yes, metro apps take up the whole screen. Worse, some things, like pdf files, open in a metro app by default. I had to install Acrobat Reader to make this go away, but only for opening pdf files. Even worse is trying to figure out how to close a metro app for the first time.

This is really the only thing that bothers me about Windows 8. When I launch a metro app, it opens full screen and I have no option to make it just a window. The Metro app experience is not really that great for a desktop/laptop.

I want all my windows to be re-sizable and I want to have multiple windows up at once. So should Metro and Desktop modes be completely separated. Of course not. There is only one feature that is annoying. The fact that metro apps open full screen. Simply add an option to open metro apps in a window and now everything is fixed.

This is fixable. I may write a post on how to resolve this later. If I do, I will link to the solution here.


There was only one real problem, in that metro apps open full screen and you can’t run multiple apps at once. The rest are just options people want. If Microsoft makes these changes, the major complaints are resolved:

  1. Allow an option to hide or display the Start icon.
  2. Allow Start and Apps metro screens to be opened in windows.
  3. Allow Start to be configurable to either open Start or Apps metro screens.
  4. Allow a setting to make metro apps to be opened in windows and make it the default setting on desktops and laptops.

Wow! A brand new interface and really four features resolve the world’s major complaints, most of which are not really that big of complaints in the first place.

We haven’t yet discussed the new features in Windows 8 yet, such as Hyper-V, which saves me a lot of money on a separate VMWare Workstation license.

My Recommendation

Take another look at Windows 8!

Windows 8 Review

So I installed Windows 8 on my work computer.

Day 1 and 2 Review

  1. I like that Hyper-V is included in Windows 8 Pro but don’t expect it to have anywhere near the features of VMWare Workstation. Even Virtual Box is more feature rich. No clipboard to copy and paste and no automatic screen resolution features are enough to drive me crazy.
  2. I miss Start | All Programs. It is quite hard to get to “All apps” if you don’t now how. Press the windows button, or drag your mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen and click on a small popup to get to slide mode. Then right-click and in the bottom right there is an All Apps image you can click on.
  3. I opened some slides in an XPS file and they opened on my left monitor. I found I could click and drag the slideset to the other monitor. The application started freaking out and flashing opened and closed on the first monitor.
  4. When I open an application, I am not exactly sure how to close it. Is it like Android and IOS in that I just don’t close it?

Other than that, it feels like Windows 7 with a slightly different theme.

Day 3 Review

  1. I tried to find the power off or restart option. I had to Google it. Rebooting the system was not very intuitive. Perhaps on a tablet, they will have the option come up when pressing the power button, like on my Kindle or my HTC Sensation phone, but when using this as a desktop, it annoying that I didn’t find it. I never expected them to put it in Settings. Here are the steps.

    Step 1 – Go to the very bottom right corner, until the right widget bar opens.
    Step 2 – Move mouse up  Settings.
    Step 3 – Choose Power from settings.

  2. I feel that when using Windows 8 as a desktop, if you don’t know keyboard shortcuts, it is going to be a struggle.