Windows 8 is going to change the overall Windows experience that most of you, over the years, have become familiar with. To accomplish this, Microsoft has chosen to bring the computing experience up to date in its Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro editions by designing one operating system that supports both the touchscreen features normally attributed to a tablet computer while maintaining a desktop-type environment.
This dual environment is designed for use on the traditional Intel and AMD processor systems and will not be seen on RT devices where the operating system is pre-installed directly from the factory. Unfortunately, you will also not see it made available for a direct download and install. However, while RT will not support a traditional installation of Windows software — such as a full version of Microsoft Office — it will support the installation of other applications. For clarification, there is a desktop for RT, but you cannot run legacy programs on RT. For a complete explanation for which operating system — Windows 8, Pro, or RT — might be right for you, check out the Microsoft website.
This is part one of a three-part series describing some of the changes Microsoft has made to Windows, along with a description of the changes and workarounds to overcoming some of the perceived difficulties.
The first issue one might face when using Windows 8 is where to find the Start button. It isn’t there and some reviewers would have us believe that the removal of the Start button was a plot by Microsoft to make life for us Windows users more difficult. However, like many of you have learned or will subsequently learn, not having a Start button is merely an annoyance. In fact, if and when you install Windows 8 on one of your systems, or when you buy a new PC with Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro pre-installed, there are many different programs available that will replace the familiar Start button. The program I have chosen to use is called Classic Shell 3.6.1. Classic Shell restores the Start button and comes with plenty of toys to fine tune the menu to your liking.
The next thing you will have to adjust to is dual ability of the OS’s touchscreen vs. keyboard/mouse capabity. If you currently own a laptop or desktop computer system without a touch screen, you will be navigating Windows 8 with the traditional mouse and keyboard. However, if you own a touchscreen-capable system, you will need to determine which of the two different environments you wish to use. You can choose between the traditional desktop environment, which resembles Windows 7, or the newer Live Tiles environment, which resembles the Windows Phone operating system.
Charms is what Microsoft calls the method that it has chosen to handle the traditional features that were once handled by the Start menu. To access them, you place your mouse in the left upper or lower corner of the screen. This, in turn, will display the available Charms — a feature that I found quite easy to learn. Below is a listing of the Charms and what each Charm does, courtesy of Microsoft.
Search. Search for anything. You can search just the app you’re in (like finding a specific message in Mail), search another app (look up something on the Internet), or you can search your entire PC (for an app, setting, or file).
Share. Share files and info with people you know or send info to another app, without leaving the app you’re in. You can email photos to your mom, update your Facebook status, or send a link to your note-taking app.
Start. Get to your Start screen. Or if you’re already on Start, you can use this charm to go back to the last app you were in.
Devices. Use all of the devices that are connected to your PC, both wired and wireless. You can print from an app, sync with your phone, or stream your latest home movie to your TV.
Settings. Change settings for apps and your PC. You’ll find settings, help, and info for the app you’re in, plus common PC settings — network connection, volume, brightness, notifications, power, and keyboard. These PC settings are the same no matter where you are in Windows, but the app settings are different in every app. You can also change settings for your PC when you select Change PC settings. It’s where you change your lock screen picture, manage notifications, and more.
Part two of this series will cover getting to know the different Internet Explorers. Yes, they are totally unique depending on which environment you are using.
Images: Used with permission from Microsoft
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CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Filip Skakun