Windows 8’s new Start screen has been hotly debated since the operating system launched in preview mode earlier this year. Accepted by some as a bold move into the tablet market, and criticized by many others who prefer the familiar desktop experience, the new ‘Modern UI Style’ home is here to stay. But beyond offering no way to bypass this screen (not without the help of third-party utilities), surprisingly Microsoft is also limiting your options when it comes to customizing the Start screen’s appearance. . You can choose from a few color schemes and 10 stock background images, but that’s about it.
We’ve seen a few workarounds before, but modifying system files requires the HEX editor to be activated, and you’re still limited to 256-color background images at a few specific sizes. This is more work than most people are probably willing to bother with and as you can imagine the results are not quite optimal.
Enter Decor 8. Stardock’s latest Windows 8 customization app removes this limitation by giving users the ability to choose any picture, regardless of size or color range, as the Start screen background.
The program is very straightforward to use. Upon launching Decor8, you’ll be presented with a set of background images to choose from, including Start screen and desktop background images, including the ones that Windows 8 ships with and a set of wallpapers that ship with the Stardock app. Is. You get the usual fill, fit, tile, and center options available in classic desktops, and the program will automatically create a color scheme to match each of your background images — or you can manually change the color scheme if you’re so inclined. Can customize from .
You can add folders to the program to use your photos and images as backgrounds. There’s also an option to select multiple background images by holding down the Ctrl key, and rotate them at a set time interval, as well as an option to fade background images against the Start screen color for a subtle effect.
Sadly, Decor 8 isn’t free. Stardock offers a 30-day free trial, but otherwise asks for a modest $4.99 for the app. It’s a little unnecessary to pay for basic functionality like this, but if you want to customize the Windows 8 Start screen beyond what Microsoft has to offer, it’s one of the easiest-to-use tools we’ve found. It does one thing and it does it well.
Other Useful Windows 8 Tweaks
While we’re at it, you can revisit other ways to customize and tweak Windows 8 to your liking.
Bring back the classic start menu. Another common complaint about Windows 8 is the lack of the old and trusty Start Menu button on the desktop. Fortunately, there are a handful of replacements available from third parties, including the open source Classic Shell, Stardock’s Start8, and Pokki.
Simplify the search. Windows search is not correct. Some of us would argue that it is getting worse. Although there’s not much you can do about it, you can make the results less cluttered by leaving out some apps you don’t want to use. Go to Win + I > Change PC Settings > Search to Manage Search List.
Restart Explorer. If Explorer locks up for some reason, there’s no need to close the process any more. Simply press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager, select Explorer in the list, and click Restart (or via the right-click contextual menu) at the bottom-right corner of the window.
keyboard shortcuts and more. Even before Windows 8 was finalized, we were getting our hands dirty exploring what the new OS had to offer. Check out our shortlist of Windows 8 tricks and keyboard shortcuts.