After spending more than a year conquering the operating system’s overhauled (and nonintuitive) interface in its various prerelease iterations, I’ve now entered a second stage of frustration: I find myself cursing at Windows 8’s major changes less and less, but shaking my fist and swearing like a sailor at its little irritations more and more.
Beyond its polished, tile-based surface, Microsoft’s new operating system plays host to a legion of smaller annoyances—a cornucopia of quirks that will leave you seething long after you get the hang of all the new gesture controls and schizophrenic system options. Some of the problems are whoppers. Others are mere nitpicks that result from a lifetime of traditional Windows use. But many of these problems can be fixed, with one major exception. Read on!
Let’s start at the very beginning of the Windows 8 experience. Lock screens make sense on a tablet, but on a PC the lock screen becomes just another superfluous click in a sea of nonstreamlined Windows 8 controls. Fortunately, banishing the Windows 8 lock screen from your life is easy.
Open the Run command box by searching for “Run,” pressing Windows-R, or moving your mouse pointer to the lower-left corner of the Desktop screen, right-clicking, and selecting Run in the Quick Access menu.
Now type gpedit.msc and press Enter to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
Enough words have been written about Windows 8’s missing Start button to fill the Library of Congress twice over, so I won’t spend much time on it. But if you’re looking to bring back the Start button and possibly even banish the live-tiled Start screen for good, check out the free (and awesome) Classic Shell program. We cover it in-depth in our roundup of free tools designed to bend Windows 8 to your will.
One of my biggest Windows 8 irritations is its lack of POP email support in the native Mail app. I get it, Microsoft: IMAP’s syncing functionality fits better into the cloud-connected, work-everywhere vision you have for Windows 8. But tell that to all the nontechie people who lean on me for computer support, and who rely on the POP email addresses that their ISPs handed out.
If you’re running Windows 8 and need to keep tabs on a POP email account, I first recommend downloading Mozilla’s free Thunderbird email application and using it in Desktop mode. But if you don’t want to do that (or if you’re running Windows RT), you have a workaround for Microsoft’s POP reluctance, though it’s somewhat clunky.
Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel >Personalization in the left menu. Double-click the Do Not Display the Lock Screen option in the main pane to open a new window. Select the Enabled radio button, click OK, and you’re done. Buh-bye, lock screen!