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Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7


Kari

Old geek, new tricks
Team Member
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Windows 8.1 - Make it Look and Feel like Windows 7
This tutorial will show you how to change the looks of Windows 8.1 Update 1 in four easy steps to make it look and behave (mostly) like Windows 7.
Published by Kari
#1
ByLine
How to Set up Windows 8.1 Update 1 to Look and Feel like Windows 7
Synopsis
This tutorial will show you how to change the looks of Windows 8.1 Update 1 in four easy steps to make it look and behave (mostly) like Windows 7.
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:
2014-07-15_23h06_25.png
Screenshot of Start Menu Reviver:
2014-07-15_23h11_41.png
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:
2014-07-15_22h35_38.png


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.


Kari
 
Last edited by a moderator:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

Golden

EightForums Pasta
Team Member
VIP Member
Posts
231
#2
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 x64
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    ASUS X54C
    CPU
    Intel Core i3-2330M @ 2.2GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUSTek K54C
    Memory
    4GB DDR3 @665MHz (9-9-9-24)
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel HD 3000 On-board
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Screen Resolution
    1366*788
    Hard Drives
    1*Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SSD
    Internet Speed
    Not fast enough!!!
    Browser
    Comodo Dragon
    Antivirus
    MSE & Malwarebytes

Kari

Old geek, new tricks
Team Member
VIP Member
Pro User
#3
Thanks Colin!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

Indianatone

Geek First
VIP Member
Member
#4
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:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7 64 Bit and VM
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    Home Built (Saberkitty)
    CPU
    AMD FX-8350 Vishera 32nm Technology @ 4.1 GHz default
    Motherboard
    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. SABERTOOTH 990FX R2.0 (Socket 942)
    Memory
    G Skill F3-2400-8GZM
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA GeForce GTX 960 4GB Super SC ACX 2.0+ with Back Plate GDDR5 128bit, PCI-E 3.0
    Sound Card
    Creative X-Fi Titanium HD Audiophile PCIe
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG L227WTG x 3
    Screen Resolution
    1680 x 1050
    Hard Drives
    238GB TOSHIBA THNSNJ256GCST SATA Disk Device (SSD)
    1863GB Seagate ST2000DM 001-1CH164 (SATA)
    1397GB Seagate ST1500DL 003-9VT16L(SATA)
    466GB Western Digital WDC WD50 03AZEX-00K1GA0 (SATA) x 2
    932GB Seagate ST310005 28AS SATA Disk Device (SATA)
    PSU
    Enermax Revolution87+ 1000 Watts Gold Certified Power Supply
    Case
    Rocketfish Full Tower
    Cooling
    Cooler Master 212 with push pull fans
    Keyboard
    Logitech K740
    Mouse
    Logitech Laser
    Internet Speed
    Fibre Cable 100 down 30 up.
    Browser
    IE 10 Firefox
    Antivirus
    Avast, MSE and common sense
    Other Info
    3 x LG L227WTG @ 1680 x 1050 16:10 monitors.
    Using Mouse Without Borders (Google it)

Kari

Old geek, new tricks
Team Member
VIP Member
Pro User
#5
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.

Kari
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model Number
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.