Why mourn the lost Start button – 2

“How on earth do you switch Windows 8 off?”

Last week’s blog looked at how the new “Start Screen” in Windows 8 replaces the old “Start Menu”. The old Start Menu was one of the main ways of launching programs and searches. It was also the way to access the button to close the computer. This week’s blog looks at how we close the machine now that we no longer have the old Start Menu with its shutdown button.

Windows 8 LogoFrom my experience with many computer clients over the years, I would say that the vast majority of my clients do want to close their computers at the end of the day. I get the distinct feeling that a lot of users experience a scintilla of relief when the screen goes black and the fan shuts down. For a lot of people, I think that closing a computer down is a bit of a ritual. It’s a marking of the end of a period of fighting with an alien force: a sign that it’s time to return to the “real” world (or maybe they are just pleased that it’s a sign that I will soon be leaving them).

Well, like it or not, the old shutdown button has gone. Microsoft don’t want us to switch the computer off. Windows 8 has been designed so that the Sleep mode is very efficient: there just isn’t any need to power the machine down when you are not using it. Putting it to sleep reduces the power requirement to a very low level and waking up from sleep is almost instantaneous.

Windows 8 Charms Bar
Windows 8 Charms Bar on an otherwise empty desktop
If you really do want to switch it off, the easiest built-in way to do it is from the Charms Bar (yes – that is really what it is called – see illustration).

To access the Charms Bar:

  • Touchscreen – swipe inwards from the right edge of the screen
  • Mouse – point at the top or bottom corner of the screen at the right edge
  • Keyboard – depress the Windows key and, while it is down, type the letter “c”


  • Click on the “Settings” cog wheel
  • Click on the “Power” icon
  • Click the desired shutdown action

Windows Shutdown IconIf you find that rigmarole a bit of a pain, then here is a method for creating a desktop shortcut that immediately closes the machine. This is not a complete replacement for the old method as it doesn’t offer options for re-starting etc., but if you just want to make sure your computer is switched off before getting back to the real world, then this is how to create the shortcut:

  • Go to an empty part of the desktop (ie a part where there are no icons) and right-click your mouse
  • Look down the menu that pops up and left-click on the option labelled “new”
  • Left-click on the option marked “shortcut”
  • In the space below the text “Type the location of the item” enter the following text:
    C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /s /t 0
  • Click “Next”
  • Enter a name (eg “quick shutdown”)
  • Click “Finish”

You can change the icon of the new shortcut as follows:

  • right-click on the new shortcut
  • Left-click on the “properties” option
  • If necessary, click on the “shortcut” tab at the top of the window
  • Left-click on the “change icon” button
  • A warning message will pop up that there are no other icons available in that file. Just click on “OK” and a whole bunch of different icons from different places will be offered. Just click on one to highlight it
  • Click on the “OK” buttons until all windows are closed

– you have your own “shutdown” shortcut. You can drag it onto the taskbar so that it is always available while you are in “desktop mode”.

Sleepin LaptopAfter a few week of using Windows 8, I have to say that I think too much fuss is being made of the demise of the Start button. It’s probably true, though, that the main reason I don’t miss it very much is that I never turn my computer off. It goes to sleep at night (just like I do), and wakes up really quickly in the morning by opening the lid (just like I don’t).