Windows 8 shutdown made easy, by way of Microsoft

Users frustrated by Windows 8's shutdown/restart options will appreciate pair of Microsoft-approved apps that do it in a snap

Shut down, restart, and log-off used to be simple actions from the Start menu in Microsoft Windows, but in Windows 8, the Start menu sleeps with the fishes, and turning off your PC from the legacy desktop involves several less-than-intuitive steps. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered, hidden in a dark corner of the company website, a couple of Microsoft-approved apps that do everything you might want.

To review, the prescribed procedure for turning off or rebooting in Windows 8 goes something like this:

  1. Bring up the Charms bar by swiping from the right or hovering your mouse in the upper- or lower-right corners. If you have a keyboard and you're into key shortcuts, you can also hold down the Windows key and press I. ("I" is for Charms, right?)
  2. Slide your finger or move your mouse down the right edge so that the Charms bar turns dark (and you don't lose it), until you get to the Settings charm. It's the one on the bottom. Tap or click the Settings charm.
  3. At the bottom, in the middle, you see the Power icon. Tap or click it.
  4. You're given two choices: Shut Down or Restart. Pick your poison.

Alternatively, go to the legacy desktop and press Alt+F4 on your keyboard. This brings up a special Shut Down Windows dialog, where you can choose Shut Down, Sleep, or Restart. If there's another way to bring up the Shut Down dialog, I can't find it -- it's not an option in the right-click-the-black-hole-that-used-to-be-Start menu, commonly called the Power User Menu. Power users never reboot, right?

The method isn't intuitive or discoverable, in my humble opinion. It's certainly nothing like "To shut down, click Start, Shut Down" -- the directions for closing every version of Windows since it arose from the primordial ooze.

There have been lots of tutorials about building shortcuts that shut down or restart Windows 8. But they're a pain in the neck -- tricky ways to do something that should be terribly simple. I speak from experience, as I explain how to build those shortcuts in several of my books. Now you have a more direct route to shutdown.

To get these apps, go to the Microsoft Gadgets download site and look near the top of the page for Control System with Clock by Keat or toward the bottom for TOP - Vista Shutdown Control by Markus. Click to download and say yes to Install; you suddenly have a small pad of icons that will shut down, restart, or log off your PC. Both Gadgets include a digital clock, as well. I prefer the Markus option because the icons are bigger, and the Hibernate icon on the Keat download doesn't work. (Windows 8 doesn't have a hibernate mode, per se; it's been replaced by a more effective feature.)

I've pushed and pulled, and they seem to work fine on the Windows 8 legacy desktop. Best of all, they're available for download from Microsoft itself. No home-brewed fix, no download from an unknown source -- this one comes from Mother Microsoft.

Yes, they're both old-fashioned Windows Gadgets, a category Microsoft's trying to kill. The official statement: "Because we want to focus on the exciting possibliities of the newest version of Windows, Microsoft no longer supports uploading new gadgets. But that doesn't mean you can't still get Gadgets." Indeed, Windows 8 legacy desktop runs Gadgets just like the Windows 7 pre-legacy desktop.

It's official. You no longer have good reason to whine about the missing Shut Down button. Microsoft itself distributes a replacement -- albeit a legacy kind of replacement for a legacy kind of desktop.

This article, "Windows 8 shutdown made easy, by way of Microsoft," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.