Would you prefer to have Windows 8 bypass the Start Screen and boot straight to the desktop? If so, you can do so using a technique that takes advantage of a feature that is built right into the operating system – no third-party tools required. All you have to do is create a specially configured task that is scheduled to run at log on.
During the Preview/Beta period, it was discovered that if you recreated that shortcut in Windows 8 and set it up as a scheduled task that ran at log on, the operating system would run the SCF file and boot to the desktop rather than the Start Screen. Once the Windows 8 code was finalized, that particular shortcut was no longer recognized by the operating system. Whether Microsoft did that on purpose or whether the contents of the SCF represented legacy code that was never intended to be a in the final code is unknown.

In any case, it seemed there would be no way to get Windows 8 to boot to the desktop without a third-party tool, such as Stardock’s Start8 utility, which, once installed, bypasses the Start Screen as well as revives the Start Menu.

Getting started
To begin you’ll need to launch the Task Scheduler tool. To do so, just press the [Windows] key, type Schedule, select Settings, and click Schedule tasks, as illustrated in Figure 1. When you do, the Task Scheduler will appear.

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Accessing Task Scheduler from the Start Screen is easy.
Once you have the Task Scheduler up and running, you’ll begin by clicking the Create Task command in the Actions panel.

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When the Create Task dialog box appears, you’ll see that the General tab is selected and will first assign the task a name in the Name text box. As you can see, I choose Show Desktop @ Start. Then, towards the bottom of the page, select Windows 8 from the Configure for drop down menu. You can leave the Security options set to Run only when user is logged on.

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To continue, select the Triggers tab to access that page. Now, click the New button towards the bottom of the page.

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When you see the New Trigger dialog box, select the At log on item from the Begin the task drop down menu. As soon as you do, the New Trigger page will refresh and display the settings for the At log on option.

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By default, the Any user option in the Settings panel and the Enabled check box in the Advanced Settings are selected. Just leave them as they are and click OK to continue. When you return to the Create Task dialog box, select the Actions tab. Then, click the New button towards the bottom of the page.

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When you see the New Action dialog box, you’ll find that the Action setting is by default set to Start a Program. So, in the Settings panel, you can just type c:\Windows\explorer.exe in the Program/script text box. You can also use the Browse button to locate and select the explorer.exe program. At this point, just click OK to return to the Create Task dialog box.

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Now, IF you are running Windows 8 on a laptop, select the Conditions tab and in the Power panel, clear the Start the task on if the computer is on AC power check box.

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There is nothing that you need to change on the Settings tab so, at this point, you are done and can just click the OK button to complete the scheduled task operation. When you return to the Task Scheduler window, you’ll see the new task that you just created on the Task Scheduler Library. You can now close Task Scheduler.

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Booting to the desktop

As soon as you have created your scheduled task, you can test it out. You can either Restart your system from the Power Charm, or you can just log off and then log back on.

While the Log off command used to be located with the other power options in previous version of operating system, in Windows 8 it now resides on the Start Screen and has been renamed to Sign out. When at the Start Screen, right click on your user picture in the upper right. When you do, you’ll see a menu and will select the Sign out command.

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When Windows 8 restarts, you’ll immediately see the Desktop with a File Explorer window targeted on Libraries. You will not see the Start Screen at all.

(Keep in mind that when you see the File Explorer window targeted on Libraries, the Documents Music, Pictures, and Video icons may shuffle around a bit. The reason for this is because when the File Explorer window appears on the screen, the operating system is still doing a bit of housework in the background.)

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Depending on how you launch your applications, you can now launch them right from the desktop. For example, if you chose to pin your application icons to the Taskbar, then they are readily available. 😀

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