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Windows 8: How to Bypass Metro and Boot Directly to the Desktop Interface

Windows 8: How to Bypass Metro and Boot Directly to the Desktop Interface

I’ve been running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for a few months and although I’m okay with Metro replacing the Start Menu, I hate seeing the new interface by default every time I reboot. When Windows 7 starts, you hit a login screen (assuming it’s enabled) and then you’re brought straight to the desktop.

When Windows 8 starts, it displays a lock screen that you have to move out of the way before entering your credentials, and then you have to dismiss the Metro interface before accessing the desktop. Like I said, I’m cool with Metro, but I have no desire to see a full-screen Start Menu when I log into my PC.

Hopefully the retail version of Windows 8 will make it a little easier to force Metro into the background, but it’s entirely possible to do this on the prerelease builds if you have five minutes to spare. Likewise, it’s easy to disable the lock screen and have Windows automatically log you in for hassle-free reboots.

Boot to the Windows 8 desktop instead of Metro

As noted, there doesn’t appear to be any baked-in solution to disabling Metro when booting Windows 8 — or at least, we haven’t found it. However, you can configure a simple script to run every time you log in. You can save yourself a few steps by downloading the batch we’ve created for you, or simply copy the text below into Notepad and save it as a .bat file (any name will do — only the extension matters):

_echo off
C:\Windows\explorer.exe shell:::{3080F90D-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257}
end_

Once you have the script, store it somewhere you don’t mind it being forever. With the script stored, you need to create a new task to run it at log in. You can do this directly through the Windows Task Scheduler or by attaching it to the Windows Logon event in the Event Viewer. We’ll walk you through the second one, for no particular reason:

 

 

  • Search for Windows’ Event Viewer in Metro’s settings (it appears as “View event logs”).
  • Click Windows Logs > Application in the left column to get a list of events in the center.
  • Scroll through the list until you see an information event with the source “Winlogon.”
  • Right click the Winlogon entry and choose “attach task to this event” to schedule a task.
  • Name your task anything you want and click next three times to choose your script.

 

  

After the script is configured to run, you won’t have to manually dismiss the Metro interface anymore. It’s worth noting that you will still see Metro briefly as the script takes a second or two to kick in, but at least it’ll show itself to the door. If anyone finds a quicker-acting solution, feel free to share it.

Disabling the Windows 8 lock screen to log in faster

This one’s less involved. Fire up the Group Policy Editor (search for gpedit.msc via Metro) and head to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization. Once you’re there, double click “Do not display the lock screen” and enable the policy. The lock screen should be disabled.

 

  

Automatically log in to your Windows 8 account

Naturally, you don’t want to do this on a notebook or any other machine outside of a secure area — including your home if you have mischievous siblings or roommates — but it’ll make the log in process that much quicker. Search for netplwiz via Metro and uncheck “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.” Provide your credentials and your account will load automatically.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Tips

 

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Install Windows 8 From a USB Drive, Dual-boot with XP, Vista and 7

Back when the Windows 8 Consumer Preview hit the Web, we offered a basic guide on configuring a virtual machine. With Windows 8’s Release Preview available and the final version inching toward completion, we figure it’s a great time to offer a similarly easy step-by-step walkthrough on installing Windows 8 with a USB drive.

If you’re familiar with the process, there isn’t much for you to see here, but this should serve as a quick confidence booster for anyone who hasn’t installed an operating system recently.

Step One

Download Windows 8 and the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool

If you’re not sure what version of Windows 8 to download, we’d recommend the 64-bit build, especially if your system is relatively modern. You can read more about the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems here and the download page linked above provides system requirements for each architecture. The short of it: Windows 8 64-bit requires an extra 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage — negligible for most users. Also, before you ask, the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool will work fine with Windows 8.

Step Two

Create a bootable Windows 8 USB drive

Naturally, to create a bootable USB drive, you’ll have to insert one and it needs to be 4GB or larger. Install the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool. Once the utility opens, you should be able to browse for and select the Windows 8 ISO you downloaded as well as the USB drive you inserted. It’s worth noting that your USB drive will be wiped, so save anything important. The process takes about five minutes depending on the speed of your drive. You’ll see a message that reads “backup completed” when it’s done.

Step Three

Install the Windows 8 Release Preview (key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF)

Needless to say, back up anything important before proceeding. If you plan to upgrade or overwrite your installation of Windows XP, Vista or 7, open the root directory of your USB drive in Windows Explorer and launch Setup.exe to begin. You’ll get to choose between the two. Windows 7 users should have a painless upgrade as programs, Windows settings as well as user accounts and files are imported. However, Windows 8 won’t save programs from Vista and it won’t save programs or Windows settings from XP.

If you want to dual boot Windows 8 with your existing operating system, you’ll have to install a second storage device or create a new partition. The former is relatively self-explanatory, just attach the drive and choose it during the installation process. The latter, however, requires a little more effort. Vista and 7 users can create a new partition with Windows’ Disk Management application (Start > search for Disk Management). Once the application loads, you should see your operating system’s drive. Follow these steps:

  • Right click the drive that you want to house Windows 8 and choose “Shrink Volume” (Windows 8 64-bit requires at least 20GB, so shrink your current partition accordingly)
  • Right click the new “Unallocated” space and create a “New Simple Volume”
  • Choose the next available drive letter and quick format the partition with NTFS (you can name the volume anything, but we’d suggest something like Windows 8 RP x64)

Windows XP users will have make partition adjustments with a third-party tool such as Partition Logic, but you’ll do the same thing: shrink one volume to create another. It should be smooth sailing from here as Microsoft’s installation process guides you through everything. Just boot off your Windows 8 USB drive, choose a custom installation and select your newly created partition. If you’re having trouble launching the USB drive, you probably just have to put it ahead of your system drive in the BIOS (look for boot options).

If you want to get rid of Windows 8, load your primary OS and launch partition software (again, Disk Management for Vista or 7 users). Delete the Windows 8 volume and extend your remaining partition into the freshly unallocated space. Removing Windows 8 could screw up your bootloader and prevent your original OS from starting properly. Don’t panic, this is a simple fix. Windows Vista and 7 users can use the automatic Startup Repair, while Windows XP users will have to get their hands a little dirtier.

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Tips

 

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How to create a bootable Windows 7 USB flash drive

The USB flash drive has replaced the floppy disk drive as the best storage medium for transferring files, but it also has its uses as a replacement for CDs and DVDs. USB drives tend to be higher in capacity than disc media, but since they are more expensive, they cannot (yet) really be used as a replacement. There are reasons why you would, however, choose a USB device over a DVD disc, and bootable software is definitely one of them. Not only is it faster to copy data such as setup files from a USB drive, but during usage the access times are also significantly faster. Therefore, installing something like Windows 7 will work that much faster from a USB drive than from a DVD (and of course, is particularly useful for the PCs without an optical drive; this isn’t something we should just leave for the pirates to enjoy).

This guide will show you two different ways to create a USB flash drive that works just like a Windows 7 DVD. In order to follow this guide, you’ll need a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of free space and a copy of the Windows 7 installation disc.

Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool

You are normally given this tool when you purchase from the online Microsoft Store.windows_7_usb_1.png

The easiest way to turn a USB flash drive into a bootable Windows 7 installer is by using the tool Microsoft offers, cunningly named the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. To get started, download the installer [exe] from Microsoft.com and follow the basic steps to put it onto your computer; you can put it on the computer you plan to install Windows 7 on or another one, it doesn’t matter.

windows_7_usb_2.png

Once it is installed, it should create an icon on your desktop, so double-click that to open. If you can’t find it, use the search function in the Start Menu with a keyword like “USB.” Launching it should give you the above screen, and step one is to find the Windows 7 .ISO file. The tool only accepts .ISO images, so we recommend that you convert yours if it’s in a different DVD image format.

windows_7_usb_3.png

Step two is straightforward: simply choose USB device.

windows_7_usb_4.png

In step three, all you have to do is make sure that you are choosing the correct USB device. If you have other data on the device, move it to your hard drive, another USB device, or somewhere else before proceeding.

windows_7_usb_5.png

The tool will prompt you if it detects data on the device. Once your data is backed up elsewhere, click Erase USB Device.

windows_7_usb_6.png

You will get another prompt warning you that all the data will be wiped. Click Yes to continue.

windows_7_usb_7.png

The format will be very quick, while the copying of the files will take a little bit more time (about 10 to 15 minutes).

windows_7_usb_8.png

Once the process is complete, you should get the above confirmation message. At this point you can close the tool and use the USB drive to install Windows 7. Remember that you’ll have to choose to boot off the USB drive. Before doing so, you may want to open up the USB drive and double click on setup.exe to see if everything looks okay. If you want to be able to do this manually, see my other post on this.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Tips

 

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How to install / Dual boot Linux from Windows using UNetbootin

A few days ago a friend of mine was ready to enter the Linux world (sic!). He downloaded a Fedora ISO but he didn’t have a blank CD to burn it. So he asked me for a way to install Linux through his Windows system. So, in this guide I will describe you how to install a Linux distribution from a Windows system so that you don’t have to burn a CD. I will use a freeware application called UNetbootin. UNetbootin is a tool that allows you to either create bootable Live USB driers for a variety of Linux distributions such as (Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo, openSUSE etc.) or make a “frugal install” directly on your local hard disk drive if you don’t have a USB drive. It can both load distributions by automatically downloading the ISO images or by using existing ISO files. Apart from a Windows 2000/XP/Vista version it has Linux versions also with precompiled packages for Ubuntu, Debian, openSuse and Gentoo. Therefore, you can use it to install Linux from another Linux! In this tutorial I have installed Ubuntu Iterpid Ibex 8.10, for which I had previously downloaded an ISO image, through a Windows XP system. The procedure is the same to install any distribution through Windows and Linux. So download the latest stable version of UNetbootin and let’s get started. This is the main window of UNetbootin. You can see the list of available distributions that UNetbootin can download for you. Various versions of each distro are supported. Apart from the Distribution and Diskimage options you can do a custom installation using a specific kernel and initrd as well as custom kernel options but I believe this will confuse most people and since it isn’t a common situation I won’t refer at all to this option.

As I’ve said before I will not use the automatic download but the Ubuntu 8.10 LiveCD ISO (1) I have in my disk. Moreover I won’t use a USB driver. Just my hard disk (2). Of course if your motherboard supports booting from USB drives and you own a large enough USB drive select this one in the Type drop down box.

UNetbootin will download files (if you have chosen the download ISO option), extract files from the ISO image, copy them to a temporary image, install a bootloader and prompt you to reboot your system.


When you reboot select UNetbootin from the list.

Next click on the find /unetbtin/menu.lst option.

And select UNetbootin.

The installation process should begin.

Ubuntu 8.10 is a LiveCD so just click the install icon to install it locally. I won’t post here details about the installation process of Ubuntu since this isn’t the subject of this unebootin guide. Just be very careful when you partition your system. You don’t want to install Linux on a existing Windows partition, do you? If you are interested you can read my Ubuntu Installation guide for more details.

Once the installation completes just reboot your system and select Windows from the GRUB boot menu. Another boot menu will appear, the Windows bootloader this time. Here choose again Windows. You will be prompted to Run UNetbootin.exe. This will automatically remove it from your system, along with the Windows bootloader.

Now you have a dual boot Windows-Linux. Enjoy!

Note: Apart from Ubuntu 8.10 I have tried the same using a Fedora 10 LiveCD ISO. However I had a few problems with it and I didn’t install it. The first problem was the following error message:

Warning could not find root filesystem
Create symlink dev/root and then exit the shell to continue install.
I solved this by typing:

ln -s / /dev/root
However I got another error next saying:

bug in initramfs /init detected. Dropping to a shell. Good luck!
There is an open bug in RedHat’s bugzilla for this so there is nothing I can do. I don’t know if there is the same problem with the normarl Fedora DVD ISO. If anyone tries it just drop me a comment here.

Raffyememon.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Tips

 

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