Top 8 settings to make Windows 8.1 Preview more usable

I have been running on the Windows 8.1 preview for a few weeks now and I have to say that it is an improvement over their first release. The first release I don’t think I could get past 1 day before going back to Windows 7. I have not powered up my Windows 7 desktop in over a week and do not think I will ever need to use Windows 7 again.

Out of the box, though, Windows 8.1 preview wasn’t perfect. Here are the 8 changes I made to make windows 8.1 more usable. Most of the changes I made favored convenience over security, however I think they are worth the compromise.

1. Disable lock Screen

If you are on a desktop the lock screen is pretty annoying.

  1. Click on the Start Screen button Type gpedit.msc
  2. administrative templates – control panel – personalization
  3. Double click on Do not display lock screen
  4. Set to Enabled

2. Install .NET 3.5

There are still a lot of applications that are dependent on the older dot net frameworks. Install them to save your self some time later. You will need the original install media to perform this tip.

  1. Click on start and click the down arrow
  2. Find and run Command Prompt (cmd.exe) as administrator
  3. In the command box type: (bes sure to update the path to the install media)
    DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:d:\sources\sxs


3. Boot to desktop

This is a new feature for Windows 8.1 but by default it is not enabled. Change this setting so you login straight to the desktop.

  1. Right click on taskbar, choose properties
  2. Click on Navigation tab
  3. Place a check mark on “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in”

4. Enable Remote Access

Enable Remote desktop so you can log in from a remote computer when you need to. Note: You may still need to configure your router/firewall to allow remote access.
This is necessary step if you are running windows 8.1 preview as a VM because using RDP to access your VM is very convenient.

  1. Right click on the start button
  2. Choose System from the menu
  3. Click on Remote Settings
  4. Change the radio button to Allow remote connections to this computer.

I personally uncheck the “allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network level Authentication (recommended)”. This will allow insecure connections to your computer from older operating systems (pre-windows 7) and Linux machines. I often connect from my android tablet so I have to uncheck it to support access.

5. Disable desktop Dim for admin prompt

  1. Go to Control Panel – System and Security – Change User Account Control Settings (at the top under the blue flag)
  2. Change slider to 3rd option
  3. Click OK

6. Disable system maintenance from waking up from S3 sleep

I have had trouble getting windows 8.1 to sleep for me. I think this is due to it being beta software and not all of the drivers updated yet. However when I do get it to go sleep, the last thing I was is Windows 8.1 waking itself back up.

  1. Go to the Control Panel – System and Security – Action Center
  2. Click on Maintenance
  3. Change Maintenance Setting
  4. Uncheck “allow schedule maintenance to wake up my computer at the scheduled time”
  5. Click OK
To completely disable system maintenance:
  1. Right click on Start Menu and choose “Computer Management”
  2. Go to Task Scheduler – Task Scheduler Library – Microsoft – Windows – TaskScheduler
  3. Right click and Disable Regular Maintenance.

Note: If you install other software such as Office 2013, it may create new tasks that will wake up your computer such as “Microsoft Office 15 Sync Maintenance” which may need to be disable to keep your computer sleeping soundly.

7. Disable AutoPlay for all media and devices

This will actual make your computer more secure.

  1. Move your mouse to the bottom right corner
  2. Click on the Settings (gear icon)
  3. At the bottom right corner click Change PC Settings
  4. click on AutoPlay
  5. Slide to Off

8. Install Hyper-V virtual machine support

Not all computers support this feature, but if you have hardware that supports SLAT and like to play around with different operating systems this is a must have feature in Windows 8.1 Preview.

  1. Go to Control Panel – Programs
  2. Click on “Turn Windows features on or off
  3. Place a checkmark in Hyper-V
  4. Click OK to install.

Like I said, I found Windows 8.1 to be a usable operating system. If there was one more additional feature that the Microsoft guys could add, it would be to include a “Recently Used Applications” section on the Start Screen. Windows XP and Windows 7 had a recently used menu, why can’t Windows 8.1 do this?