For a pre-Beta, it is hard to do much better than Microsoft has with its developer build. Windows 8 DP isn’t without its bugs but for an OS that isn’t even in BETA yet, it is a fairly stable experience. I’ve found WDP such a useable experience that I used it on my desktop as its primary OS for well over a month.
This being said, I still have Windows 7 on my newer laptop and will likely keep it that way until the BETA arrives.
As stable as WDP is, it really isn’t designed for average users and is meant to be a tool for developers to test out new APIs for developing Metro apps and other Windows 8 specific programs. That being said, the shear reliability found in W8’s pre-BETA experience really makes me excited about how Windows 8 will end up in the final release.
Despite being a fairly strong demo, WDP isn’t without its flaws. I have highlighted many of these flaws and quirks in previous articles, and so I’m not going to go too far into detail here. What I am going to focus on is what I feel is WDP’s most lacking area at the moment: Customization options.
When it comes to customizing Windows 8’s new METRO interface you are certainly lacking options. Sure, you can easily change the lock screen, but this is as far as it goes.
Microsoft has already added this to its newer builds of Windows 8, but until BETA comes out we won’t officially have a way to customize anything else on METRO. Luckily, that is where the application “Metro UI Colors Changer” comes in to play.
This a fairly easy to use application that can pretty much change every part of the color scheme in METRO and the Metro boot screen. A couple of important factors to remember is that you MUST run as administrator to get this to work.
If you fail to do this it will generate an error.
As seen the in the screen, above, having customization certainly adds to the experience by allowing it to be something uniquely ‘yours’. This is a big plus, considering the sea of green presented in Windows 8’s METRO interface gets old very quickly.
Outside of customizing the METRO interface colors, there is also an easy registry edit that will give you back the traditional start menu. I have highlighted this in the past, but I never pointed out something fairly important.
ALLOWING the old start menu through registry edit does NOT remove the Metro interface. It simply gives you both. That’s right both.
So how do you enable the old start menu? Simply push the Windows key and the R key at the same time to open up the “RUN” Shortcut.
From there you follow a few simple options and you’ll be able to change the registry option. Instead of going through a step-by-step guide, check out my previous post that did just that.
Once you’ve disabled METRO, all you need to do is press the Window key and Metro will still come up. Also holding your mouse in the far right corner will still allow you to get into METRO when clicking on the Windows icon.
So here are just two customizations I’ve personally used in my daily experience with Windows 8. Right now I have Metro with the color purple actually, and I have a way into both Metro and the old start menu. This gives me the best of both worlds and I actually like having both present.
Will Microsoft eventually allow an automatic way to make this possible or will they remove Start Menu altogether in the BETA and final release? Its hard to call right now, but we might have a better idea when the BETA arrives in January or February.
What do you think of the customizations I highlighted in this article? Any other great tweaks you know of that you could recommend for other users and myself to try out? Share your thoughts below!