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Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7

  1. #1
    Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7

    Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7
    How to Set up Windows 8.1 Update 1 to Look and Feel like Windows 7
    Published by Kari is offline
    15 Jul 2014
    Default Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7

    Published by

    Kari's Avatar
    Old geek, new tricks

    Join Date: Jul 2009
    Location: A Finnish ex-pat in Leipzig, Germany
    Posts: 1,444

    How to Set up Windows 8.1 Update 1 to Look and Feel like Windows 7

    information   Information
    Personally I like how Windows 8.1 looks. However if you want to get the perks of Windows 8.1 but keep the familiar Windows 7 looks, it can be done quite easily. This tutorial will show you how to do that in four easy steps.

    Note   Note
    Notice please: Steps 1 to 3 below apply for Windows 8.1 and later. The desktop Windows Picture Viewer as mentioned in step 4 is used by default by Windows 8.1 Update 1 and later.

    The procedure told in this tutorial takes you only a few minutes.

    Step 1.
    Set up Windows 8.1 using a Local Account

    One of the new things in Windows 8 is how it can be connected to your Microsoft Account, an email account. This gives Windows 8 somewhat more so called cloud services, integrating your user account with various services like OneDrive, XBOX Games and Videos and so on. As a user I like this very much, it simplifies things for me synchronizing my settings on all Windows 8 devices I use.

    However, if you are not a fan of cloud services, if you want to continue using Windows as you were used to with previous versions of Windows by signing in locally, you can set up a Local Account instead, exactly as in Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows. Using a Local Account allows you to use Windows without a Microsoft Account.

    See this tutorial, step 18 shows how to set up Windows 8.1 using a local account instead of a Microsoft Account, whether you are installing Windows or setting up a new computer with preinstalled Windows: Clean Install - Windows 8

    If you are already using a Microsoft Account but would like to switch to a local account, see this tutorial: Local Account - Switch to in Windows 8.

    Step 2.
    Set Windows 8.1 to boot to Desktop bypassing Start Screen

    A simple setting in Taskbar Properties allows you to bypass the Start Screen and boot to Desktop instead. See the tutorial (Option Two): Desktop or Start - When Sign in or Close apps in Windows 8

    Step 3.
    Install Start Menu replacement

    Install Classic Shell or any other third party Start Menu replacement if you do not like the 8.1 default one. Free download: Classic Shell - Start menu and other Windows enhancements.

    For a bit different and modern Start Menu look try Start Menu Reviver: Start Menu Reviver

    Screenshot of Classic Shell Start Menu:

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    Screenshot of Start Menu Reviver:

    Click image for larger version

    Consult respective website for installation instructions.

    Step 4.
    Set program defaults for media and image viewing

    Windows 8.1 Update 1 uses the Windows Picture Viewer (desktop) by default for viewing images so for image viewing you need to do nothing to keep using desktop apps instead of Modern (Windows Store) Apps.

    Media files need one simple one time procedure: Launch Windows Media Player once accepting default settings. In doing this your media files will be played on desktop player instead of the Modern Video App:

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    That's it. Now your Windows 8.1 will act, feel and look like Windows 7. Only things you need the modern UI for after this is to change lock screen background, add users and read PDF files; Windows 8 has a Modern built-in PDF reader app, but if you’d like to use a desktop reader as in Windows 7, the procedure is the same: you need to download and install a third party reader app.

    Note   Note
    If you later on when using a Local Account decide to use Windows Mail App or any other Modern Apps, or to download and install Modern apps from Windows Store, see this tutorial to learn how to do it without switching to a Microsoft Account: Windows Store - Sign in with Different Microsoft Account in Windows 8.

    Setting up the modern Skype App is a bit different than setting up other Widows Store Apps, depending on if you have an existing old Skype account or not. See this tutorial for setting up Skype app for a Local Account: Skype App - Use with Local Account in Windows 8.

  2. #1

    Posts : 230
    Windows 8.1 x64

    Excellent! Its about time we saw a well - balanced, factual and unbiased view of how to make W8 look and feel like W7. Good job Kari.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #2

    A Finnish ex-pat in Leipzig, Germany
    Posts : 1,444
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center

    Thanks Colin!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #3

    Thanks Kari. Easy to do and really makes 8 and 8.1 welcoming for everyone. If you don't want Windows Media player playing your music you can use Winamp for music and VLC for video media.

    Winamp ? It really whips the llama's ass!

    VideoLAN - Download official VLC media player for Windows

    PDF tool:

    Free PDF Reader | PDF Viewer | Foxit Reader Download

    That is what is on everyone of my PC's. As always make sure to do a custom install and check to see if the installer is installing unwanted software.
    Last edited by Indianatone; 16 Jul 2014 at 13:30. Reason: Typos
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #4

    A Finnish ex-pat in Leipzig, Germany
    Posts : 1,444
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center

    Thanks Indianatone.

    A lot of users criticizing Windows 8 use Modern Apps as an argument against it. Personally I do not understand this, there are loads of really neat and nice apps available at Windows Store.

    Modern Video App and the Reader App are maybe the two most criticized. The logics behind this criticism does not work, though: using an argument like "I do not like Windows 8 because it even opens PDF files in that strange app! I'd rather keep using Windows 7" is ridiculous. The same users who perfectly know that to read a PDF file in Windows 7 they must first download and install a reader can't and are not willing to do the same in Windows 8, using that as an argument against Windows 8.

    The same applies to media player. It's IMO pointless and really bad argument to say "I do not like Windows 8 because of that Video App" when all you have to do is exactly the same as when using Windows 7: launch the native Windows Media Player once setting defaults, or install a third party player.

    I could go on but let's put it short: Two arguments used most often against Windows 8 are 1) Modern Apps instead of Desktop Apps, and 2) Start Menu. The purpose of this tutorial is to show both of these arguments are not valid: You do not have to use Modern Apps but can do everything on desktop instead, and you can have a Windows 7 style Start Menu.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7

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