I must apologize as I tried to write this guide to Windows 8 basics when the software first came out but it has taken me this long to find the desktop on my Windows 8 laptop. As is the norm when Microsoft switches around their ‘Start’ panel or updates their operating system, we must switch up our brain memory and relearn our way around the block.
I still have no clue where the Control Panel is or why there’s a picture of the Space Needle in Seattle every time I start up my computer but here are some of the Windows 8 Basics I’ve picked up on thus far.
Windows 8 and Touch Screens
Windows 8 has a tile based design that is ultimately developed for touch screen computers. This particular design was implemented to build on the popularity of tablet computers, especially the iPad. The opening start screen of Windows 8 is a welcome page where in my particular computer shows a picture of the Seattle Space Needle and shows the date and time. I’m instantly thirsty for Starbucks upon opening my computer and haven’t yet figured out how to change this. On touch screen computers, this opening screen is navigated away by swiping up but a standard laptop proceeds by clicking any key.
Live Titles Page Windows 8?
In lieu of the standard desktop, Windows has a page called live tiles. This screen updates in real time when the computer is connected to the Internet. Sports scores, breaking news, weather updates and stock market news are among the active live tiles. This particular screen was called the Metro screen and Microsoft wants this to be your start point of the future but apparently they had some naming regrets and soon changed it to ‘Modern UI.’
The Desktop Menu
There is a desktop tile that will take you to the familiar desktop screen where you’ll notice the Start menu button has disappeared. This can be accessed by swiping from the far right screen to the left or by hovering off the screen in the lower left corner. Tricky I know but Microsoft is attempting to force away from the standard Start Menu.
Browsing the Internet
I took an oath in 1999 to never use Internet Explorer again but was forced to break that oath for a few seconds while downloading Google Chrome. When accessing IE in the Windows 8 desktop, the interface is very familiar with tabs representing open web pages. When accessing the Internet through the Metro system, pages are browsed between with a right click or by hovering near the top of the page to view thumbnails of open pages.
Windows 8 Apps
Some other notable things to take into account is that Microsoft is building on the success of phone apps by offering their own app store. You can visit this store and select certain apps that will be downloaded to your computer just like they would on a cell phone. If purchasing a new computer or laptop, many of the most popular apps come preloaded such as Skype, Netflix, eBay, iHeart Radio and more. One thing to look out for is that Microsoft Office doesn’t come standard on new devices and this may affect which computer you purchase depending on your needs.
Shut Down Windows 8
One of the final obstacles to overcome in Windows 8 is shutting down the computer. It seems like a great marketing ploy to make shutting down the system akin to solving a Rubik cube at first as you’ll spend more time using the device and buying more apps. I finally found out a quick and proper way to shut down Windows 8 the computer by accessing the right side menu by hovering in the upper right corner. From there select ‘Settings’ and power to properly exit your Windows 8 browsing experience.
(Credit: Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)
Some people have decided to create a shut down icon for Windows 8 so you can just press a button and be done with it.
This is an old video but you still right click on the desktop to get to the menu to choose ‘new” and then “shortcut”. Some things are still the same!
Like most new computers and operating systems, Microsoft 8 will seem overwhelming at first. After browsing through the new OS for a few days, things will seem more familiar and you’ll forget the olden days of a Start menu and other applications of our ancestors…right on time for Windows 9 to be released.