In pictures: The desktop lover's guide to supercharging Windows 8.1

Don't like the Metro interface? Here's the best way to banish it and boost your productivity.

Get Start8 There’s no Start menu like the old Start menu. You can choose from dozens of Start menu replacements -- our own Serdar Yegulalp has nine options in this Test Center analysis -- but the one I keep coming back to is Stardock’s Start8.

Start8 actually works better than the Windows 7 Start menu. Try it free for 30 days. Keep it, and Start8 will set you back $4.99.

While you’re at it, seriously consider getting Stardock’s ModernMix -- there’s an offer to download it at the same time as Start8. You may want to run a Metro app some day (forgive my blasphemy), and the way to do it is inside a window on your desktop, the ModernMix way.

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