Turn off Windows 8’s most annoying features with Skip Metro Suite 3.0

What are you doing, standing there tentatively at the edge of the pool? Come on in, the water’s lovely and warm. What, it’s not as lovely and warm as the last pool you were in? Someone says it’s as bad as the pool you were in before that? Poppycock. It’s nowhere near as rubbish as that. What’s that hulking great thing in the corner, you say? Ignore it, you don’t need it.

All of this is a rather convoluted way of saying Windows 8 is not as bad as everyone is making out. But there is that one rather large elephant in the room in the form of the Modern UI, or whatever Microsoft’s calling it these days. But here’s the trick: you can ignore it all with the help of a free -- and now portable -- tool called Skip Metro Suite 3.0.

Skip Metro Suite 3.0 allows you to do two principal things: first, you can bypass the Start screen entirely, so after Windows logs on you find yourself at the more familiar looking Windows 8 desktop. Sure, there are changes, but on the whole we like them. There are plenty of new features and improvements here to justify the update.

Second, Skip Metro Suite 3.0 lets you selectively disable the hotspots at the edge of your screen, aimed at touchscreen users wanting quick access to the Charms bar, task switcher or Start menu. Disabling these means your mouse is free to roam at will into the corners of your screen without worrying about triggering something.

And you can still access these elements by using their keyboard shortcuts: [Win] for the Start screen, [Win] + [Tab] for the task switcher and [Win] + [C] for the Charms bar. In short, the Modern UI is kept out of sight (and largely out of mind) – it’s there if you need it or want to explore it, but it won’t get in the way of your day-to-day.

Everything’s achieved via a simple interface -- just tick the options you want to disable, save your settings, reboot and they’re implemented. Better still, version 3.0 of this useful tool has been completely rewritten from the ground up, converting it into a tiny, standalone portable app with no third-party dependencies. Just fire it up each time you want to tweak (or reverse your changes).

Version 3.0 also claims to have squashed all previous bugs and issues by being rewritten from scratch, and in lieu of an uninstaller utility comes with a new option for disabling the program entirely, so Windows 8 is free to perform as Microsoft envisaged.

It’s all very useful, but it’s worth noting that you’re still left without the traditional Start menu (the [Win] + [X] menu is okay, but no real substitute). If you’re looking for all the features of Skip Metro Suite and the old Start menu, install the Classic Start portion of Classic Shell 3.6.5 instead.

Skip Metro Suite 3.0 is available now as a freeware download for PCs running Windows 8.

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