How to make Windows 8 less nauseating

Unless you're a fan of Dramamine, you'll have have to turn to third-party apps if you want the old Windows Start Screen

I took the plunge and upgraded my primary desktop system to Windows 8 Release Preview. I could have waited for the RTM in a week, but I went for it. After working with it on my Samsung Slate for several weeks and loving the experience, I felt like I was ready.

The upgrade went smoothly. I was prepared for all the new features and navigation methods involved. After all, I'm halfway through writing my next book, entitled "Using Windows 8" to be published by Que, so I should be comfortable with Windows 8 by now. However, I wasn't prepared for how visually jarring it was to hit the Windows key to get to the Start Screen (formerly known as Metro) and all of a sudden have my 24-inch monitor become a sliding whirl of color.

[ Windows 8 is coming, and InfoWorld can help you get ready with the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report, which explains Microsoft's bold new direction for Windows, the new Metro interface for tablet and desktop apps, the transition from Windows 7, and more. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

That's right, Windows 8 is making me sick. Using the Start Screen at 24 inches is like going on a virtual ride that doesn't really move anywhere but instead jerks the room around to make you feel like you blew up the Death Star. There are already third-party fixes available for this abomination, which I'll get into in a minute. But first, allow me to rant a little more.

I understand that the formerly-known-as-Metro UI is meant to emphasize "content over chrome" and that the idea is to get the functional pieces out of the way of the visual content. But with the Windows Desktop, we still have a taskbar and notification tray, so what would have been the harm of retaining a Start button and menu? Sure, this would mean not going to the Start Screen as often, but with the way my stomach is churning every time I need to open up a new app on my desktop, I really could use that little Start button. 

Windows 8: Your way or Microsoft's way?

In my desperation to stop the spinning, I reached out to StarDock.com and downloaded its free Start8 solution that puts the Start Screen into a Start Button on the desktop. I wouldn't say it gives me exactly what I want -- that is, my old Start button -- but at least I can contain the Start Screen to a smaller portion of my display and thereby avoid the nausea.

Other options include Power8 and Classic Shell (which is a really good and offers lots of additional features). I found one called ViStart that went one step further than Start8 in that it gave me back my actual Start button and menu. I can still return to the Start Screen if I choose by placing my cursor in the top-right corner to reveal the Charms bar, then click Start.

When making such a huge UI and navigational adjustment to an OS that has been used (for some) since infancy, you're bound to encounter people who don't want change or, in my case, cannot physically stomach it. Maybe the younger generation who can still ride roller coasters (which I gave up years ago) can handle the jarring visual elements -- I can't.

Flexibility would make more sense here. But Microsoft made the call, so third-party solutions are required. It's not the first outside solution I've installed, so I'm not too bent out of shape. After all, following the brand-new setup, I install Adobe tools, TweetDeck, MagicDisc, Camtasia Studio, and a slew of other apps (Microsoft Office included) to get my system where I need it to be. But I would simply prefer to not have to do that with something as integral to the design of the system as my navigation tools to applications like the Start button and menu.

I'd also like to not reach for motion sickness medicine whenever I sit down to get some work done.

This story, "How to make Windows 8 less nauseating," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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