In Windows 8, Microsoft dropped the good old Start menu and replaced the same with a full screen, Modern UI-style Start screen. While the Start screen in Windows 8 was way superior than the Start menu in many ways, it was not perfect for majority of PC users who mostly use the desktop environment to get things done.
One of the downsides was that it was not highly customizable and one needed to go for third-party tools to set a custom picture as Start screen background. Post the release of Windows 8, developers came with software to disable the Start screen, add Start menu, open Start screen within desktop, and change the Start screen background with a custom one.
In order to stop as many as users from disabling the Start screen and installing third-party Start menu tools, Microsoft has enhanced the Start screen in Windows 8.1 with a number of new features and personalization settings. Of all the new features and personalization settings, the option to configure Windows 8.1 to use desktop background picture as Start screen background is probably the best one.
When the feature is enabled, the active desktop wallpaper will appear as your Start screen and All apps screen background that appears when you click the down arrow button located at the lower-left corner of the Start screen.
If you like the idea of having desktop background picture as your Start screen background picture, simply follow the instructions given in one of the two methods.
Step 1: Switch to the desktop mode.
Step 2: Right-click on the empty space of the Taskbar and then click Properties to open Taskbar and Navigation Properties.
Step 3: Here, switch to the Navigation tab, and then tick the option titled Show my desktop background on Start. Click Apply button. That’s it! From now on, Start screen will use the desktop background.
Step 1: Switch to the Start screen either by pressing the Windows logo key on the keyboard or by clicking on the Start button.
Step 2: Move the mouse pointer to upper or lower-right corner of the screen to reveal the Charms bar. Click Settings to open Settings charm.
Step 3: Here, click Personalize to see Start screen background pattern, background color, and accent color personalization options.
Step 4: In the background patterns box, click the last tile showing your current desktop background to set desktop wallpaper as Start screen background.
Note that you can’t set a custom picture as Start screen background without setting it as start screen background. That is, if you want to use your own picture as Start screen background, then you’ll need to set it as desktop background first.
However, you can use either Stardock’s Decor8 (paid software) or Start Screen Customizer (free) to set custom picture as your Start screen background without having to apply it as desktop background.