When you start Windows 8.1 or exit an app, the Start screen appears automatically. Of course, you can select the Desktop tile to switch to the desktop (or press Win+D). However, if you want the desktop automatically, instead of the Start screen follow these steps:
- On the desktop, move the mouse pointer over an empty part of the taskbar and click the right mouse button. (On a touchscreen, touch and hold until you see a small box.)
- On the small context menu that pops up, select Properties.
- In the resulting Taskbar Properties dialog box, select the tab at the top labeled Navigation.
- In the section labeled Start Screen, select “When I sign in or close all apps, go to the desktop instead of the Start”. (If checked, you get the desktop by default. If unchecked, you get the Start screen by default.)
- Select OK.
In April, an update to Windows 8.1 will install automatically. It has been reported that for systems without a touch screen, this option will be on automatically, in which case you may want to turn it off if you don’t like this option.
You can display the Start screen anytime by pressing the Win key alone or by selecting the Windows icon from the Charms (swipe from right or Win+C) or on the taskbar.