Boot directly to Desktop in Windows 8.1

One of the complaints which most Windows users have is the inability to boot Windows directly to the desktop, instead of the Start Screen. Sure you could install 3rd-party freeware to do it, but not everybody was interested in doing it. The next best thing was to have some application like Internet Explorer in the startup folder, so that IE would open automaticallyand you would land on the desktop with a lapse of few seconds. Or you could use an Explorer script or simply place the Desktop tile to appear first on the start screen.

Initially, our Metro UI Tweaker allowed users to tweak the settings so as to land directly on the desktop. But this tweaker did not work in subsequent Windows 8 releases – as the setting was removed. Microsoft had removed the option to boot directly to desktop mode from the admin panel of user Group Policies. This meant that even the admins cannot use group policies to change the default boot sequence. This made sure that users will never get the desktop on Windows 8 directly upon booting. It sure looked like Microsoft was forcing the Windows 8 UI on users so that people who resisted change could get a little time to interact with the tiles – and maybe get used to it.

Boot to Desktop in Windows 8.1

But the user reaction was strong and so was the feedback! Microsoft has listened to feedback, and introduced the option in Windows 8.1 to users to choose where they want to land after booting Windows 8. By default, the Windows 8.1 upgrade will put you on the start screen first. But if you wish, you can now easily change this settings and land directly on the Desktop instead. No need to install any other software now!

All you need to do is right-click on the Windows 8.1 taskbar and select Properties. This will open the Taskbar properties box. Under the Navigation tab, you will see the option Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in.

Boot to Desktop in Windows 8.1

Check it, click Apply/OK and Exit.

Your Windows 8 will now boot directly to Desktop!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.