Challenge/Experiment: Can You Turn off Aero in Windows 8?


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Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

Windows Aero is a theme introduced in Windows Vista that takes advantage of hardware acceleration to draw Window elements. It is known for its glass window boarders, taskbar thumbnails, full-screen screen magnification, and Fade effects when opening, closing, and minimizing Windows. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, Aero could be easily turned off either by the user or automatically by the system. Turning off Aero would disable features like taskbar thumbnails and glass. On Windows Visa and 7, Aero would be turned off under the following circumstances:

  • Switching to Windows Basic, Windows Classic, or High Contrast theme
  • Turning off Aero from the "Advanced System Settings" dialogue box
  • Starting Windows under Safe mode
  • Uninstalling graphics driver or running Windows on virtual machine without any "guest additions"
  • Running a software that turns of Aero, like the game "Half Life"
  • Ending "Desktop Window Manager" process from the taskbar

Windows Windows 8, none of the methods above seem to work:

  • Windows Classic theme does not exist. Windows Basic theme is replaced by Aero light, and High Contrast themes still keeps Aero on.
  • It is impossible to turn off Aero from the "Advanced System Settings".
  • Starting Windows in Safe Mode keeps Aero enabled
  • Uninstalling graphics drivers does not disable aero. Aero still works without virtual machine's guest additions
  • No software, thus far, has been able to turn of Aero, including Half-Life and Roller Coaster Tycoon.
  • Attempting to end "Desktop Window Manager" process from the taskbar warns that Windows will crash and shut down.

I have tried very hard to disable Aero (for experimentation) but no methods have prevailed. My challenge for you is to discover a way to turn of Aero on Windows 8. If you can do it, please post a screenshot!

Here's a pic of Aero still running when I switch to a High Contrast theme. Notice that the taskbar thumbnail is present:

High%20Contrast%20Aero.png

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xendrome

Disable "Desktop Window Manager Session Manager" service instead of stop it? What does it do.

Any why would you want to disable Aero?

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Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

Disable "Desktop Window Manager Session Manager" service?

As I noted on the main thread, it crashes the entire system and shuts down Windows. Does not work. Check the list of methods I tried on the main thread, all of which seemed to fail.

To answer you second question: I don't want to disable Aero, I want to experiment with Windows 8. It is amazing how Microsoft has managed to keep Aero on under very circumstances, such as bad graphics drivers, something that was beyond imagination on the days of Vista. Kudos to Microsoft. I wanted to see how far we could push Aero on Windows 8.

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Coolicer

Maybe it falls back to a software renderer?

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Detection

I disabled the Display adapter in vmware, screen went black for a few seconds, and when it came back on I had 1024x768 with aero still running

I don't think you can kill it

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Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

So, Microsoft's claim that Aero has to run on advanced graphics hardware during the vista days was a lie? Sinofsky has disproven Vista dev team.

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Hell-In-A-Handbasket

As I noted on the main thread, it crashes the entire system and shuts down Windows. Does not work. Check the list of methods I tried on the main thread, all of which seemed to fail.

My DWSM crashes all the time for the last 2 Nvidia driver updates whenever I try to watch a vid, never shuts down. Stays that wat till I restart the service

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HawkMan

So, Microsoft's claim that Aero has to run on advanced graphics hardware during the vista days was a lie? Sinofsky has disproven Vista dev team.

Things are not static, meaning they change, 5 years of developement can do a lot you know. And besides, what hardware are you testing on, could it run aero in vista?

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CentralDogma

What happens if you install Windows 8 on a PC with a graphics card that doesn't support WDDM?

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Detection

What happens if you install Windows 8 on a PC with a graphics card that doesn't support WDDM?

There are specific specs needed for Win 8 Metro UI, maybe it won't allow the install ?

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CentralDogma

There are specific specs needed for Win 8 Metro UI, maybe it won't allow the install ?

Then, what if you install it then swap cards?

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sanctified

What if you rename the dwm.exe to .bak and restart?

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Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

I did try Windows 8 on devices that Vista failed to run Aero on. Windows 8 ran Aero just fine! About installing 8 on PCs without WDDM, I don't know what happens. Can anyone emulate that on a VM?

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bogas04

Aero should run even on ARM devices so i guess they made it much less resource hungry

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Detection

What if you rename the dwm.exe to .bak and restart?

That :laugh:

Capture.PNG

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Dot Matrix

Simple answer: You don't.

It has been said that the "classic" UI code has been removed. This is why the Start Menu is literally impossible to bring back. The code simply isn't there.

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sanctified

Since this is an experiment... what happens if you copy Windows 7 dwm over Windows 8's one?

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Detection

Renaming dwm.exe to dwm.exe.bak caused the black screen above, and even renaming it back to dwm.exe from recovery mode > command prompt didn't fix it - had to refresh the OS via the DVD

Since this is an experiment... what happens if you copy Windows 7 dwm over Windows 8's one?

I`ll find out in a min :D

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remixedcat

gogogogogogo VMWARE!!!!

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Dashel

So, Microsoft's claim that Aero has to run on advanced graphics hardware during the vista days was a lie? Sinofsky has disproven Vista dev team.

Hardly. It still requires advanced graphics hardware. The prevalance of driver support is the only thing that has changed since most (except ATI) dragged anchor in getting their drivers stable and released.

Frankly, this is one aspect of Win8 that drives me nuts. Its built to run on low performance slates so you would assume dropping in on some older desktops/laptops would be no brainer. Until you realize that what ever Aero mode it turns on is unusably slow, I assume because it currently doesn't check for 'certified' devices.

As for turning it off, I would be quite surprised if you can.

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Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

So, it seems that if you try to get rid of Aero, you break the entire OS and see nothing but black...hmm. So, does this mean there is absolutely no way to run "Windows Basic" mode on Windows 8? In other words, with Vista and 7, the OS would fall back to the basic mode, but in 8, the OS doesn't have anything to fall back to and just dies.

So, this bring up another question. Microsoft says that any Win7 PC can run Win8. Microsoft said in the past that any Windows Vista PC could run Win7. Thus, I assumed that any Vista PC could run 8. But now it seems that Vista PC that could only run Windows Basic might not be able to run Windows 8 at all.

And for those of you trying this on a VM, remember to make a snap shot of your OS so you don't have to waste time reinstall Win8 again if the OS breaks.

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Detection

gogogogogogo VMWARE!!!!

So, it seems that if you try to get rid of Aero, you break the entire OS and see nothing but black...hmm. So, does this mean there is absolutely no way to run "Windows Basic" mode on Windows 8? In other words, with Vista and 7, the OS would fall back to the basic mode, but in 8, the OS doesn't have anything to fall back to and just dies.

So, this bring up another question. Microsoft says that any Win7 PC can run Win8. Microsoft said in the past that any Windows Vista PC could run Win7. Thus, I assumed that any Vista PC could run 8. But now it seems that Vista PC that could only run Windows Basic might not be able to run Windows 8 at all.

Renaming DWM.exe and rebooting has killed the OS, I refreshed the OS which gave me back the desktop, soon as I installed VMWare tools Im back to a black screen after boot

If I hit Ctrl, Alt, Insert it turns purple, hit space or enter it turns black again, so I guess its logging me out and in each time but I cant see anything

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Dashel

But now it seems that Vista PC that could only run Windows Basic might not be able to run Windows 8 at all.

That is consistent with my testing, except right now it can, just incredibly slowly.

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remixedcat

is this that "vista sticker" thing all over again???

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Nazmus Shakib Khandaker

Renaming DWM.exe and rebooting has killed the OS, I refreshed the OS which gave me back the desktop, soon as I installed VMWare tools Im back to a black screen after boot

If I hit Ctrl, Alt, Insert it turns purple, hit space or enter it turns black again, so I guess its logging me out and in each time but I cant see anything

I recommend making a snapshot of the stable OS before experimenting. If something goes wrong, you can easily get back to the snapshot and a stable OS. This saves you the time to reinstall the entire OS.

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