Windows 8 has been amongst us for a few months now – but does it live up to its super catchy TV advert?
What IS Windows 8?
Windows 8 is the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating systems for use on home and business desktops, laptops and tablets.
With a strong emphasis on touch-screen input, Windows 8 introduces the touch-friendly “Metro” design start screen with a grid of dynamically updating tiles representing applications to replace the traditional “Start Menu” used in previous Windows operating systems.
Of course there are other improvements, like added USB 3 support, improved security features and cloud computing capabilities.
Getting along with Windows 8
“Metro” is the new start screen – replacing the traditional “Start” Menu:
The “Charm Bar” on the very right (which pops up if you hover over the minus sign on the bottom right of the screen – or keyboard shortcut: ÿ + c) lets you get into further settings, devices and shut down menu.
To adapt your Metro to show all the apps and programmes you want, just right click the relevant programme file and choose “pin to start”.
By far the best feature of Windows 8 is how you search, simply: ÿ + type first letters of documents / programme whilst on the Metro Screen.
Still don’t like it? Fear not… just press ÿ + d and you are taken straight back to the “traditional” desktop” (or go to Charms Bar, click on “Start”) – although without the traditional Start button! To go back to Metro, simply press ÿ again.
Windows 8 Infidelities
Although some new features in Windows 8 are simply fantastic (i.e. the search function), others are just plain confusing:
The Internet Explorer shortcut on the Metro Desktop is merely a trimmed down version of the full Internet Explorer – to use the fully functioning version of Internet Explorer, you will need to go to the desktop (ÿ + d) and click on the blue “e” in the taskbar on the bottom left!
The Email App showing on the Metro screen supports Hotmail and Gmail accounts only and 3rd party email programmes (i.e. Windows Live Mail, Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird) are required for other email accounts.
Closing Apps is done by pressing Alt + F4 as there is no longer an “x” to click in the top right corner of a window. You could also swipe from the middle top of the screen downwards if you have a touch enabled device – or do so by keeping your finger on the mouse button – if you have steady hands!
There are several new (yet non-intuitive) ways to Shut Down your computer:
- Open the Charms Bar, click on “Settings”, click on “Power”, choose whether to sleep, shut down /restart
- Log out by clicking on your account, and then click on shut down
- Switch to the old-style desktop and press Alt + F4, then choose your shut-down option
Microsoft essentially doesn’t want you to shut down your PC, but put it into sleep / hibernate mode and with Windows 8 enforcing their update installation when restarting / shutting down – an increasing number of people are likely to turn off the “download and install updates automatically” function off completely!
So: Snog, Marry or Avoid?
There is no doubt that Windows 8 drastic new design takes some getting used to – even for IT Professionals – and many users are likely to miss not being able to revert to the old-style layout. However, there are 3rd party applications allowing you to do just that: read more here. Although not without flaws, these are well worth a go if you really hate the new Windows 8 – or just don’t have the time to learn it right now!
But, despite the steep learning curve required, there have been 60 million Windows 8 licenses sold through January 2013 alone, so Windows 8 is here to stay for good and certainly difficult to avoid when buying a new computer or tablet.
Have PC Harmony,
so you can concentrate on the more important things in life…