With the launch of Windows 8, buyers are about to discover a computing
experience unlike anything they've seen before. Here's a guide to
getting past some of the hurdles.
The main thing to know is that
Windows 8 is designed especially for touch-screen computers, to make
desktops and laptops work more like tablets. It is Microsoft's way of
addressing the popularity of tablets, namely the iPad. But Windows 8
will work with mouse and keyboard shortcuts, too. It'll take some
getting used to, though.
There are two versions of Windows 8, or
more precisely, there's Windows 8 and there's Windows RT. They look the
same, but they run on different processing chips. Windows 8 runs on
standard chips from Intel and AMD and is the version you'd get if you're
upgrading your home desktop or notebook PC. Windows RT is the version
for light, small tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids.
Windows 8 will
run programs written for older versions of Windows. Windows RT won't.
It's limited to applications specifically written for it and available
through Microsoft's store. (As a consolation, a version of Microsoft
Office is included free on Windows RT devices).
Here are some tips on how to navigate the new Windows:
1) When you start a Windows 8 machine, you're greeted with a screen that
shows the time and a pretty picture. To get past it with a touch-screen
device, swipe upwards with your finger from the bottom edge of the
screen. If you have a keyboard, hit any key.
2) Next, you'll see a
mosaic of Live Tiles, each representing an application. Programs
specifically written for Windows 8 will run in this new environment,
which is unofficially nicknamed Metro. Each application fills the screen
when you run it. Applications written for older Windows versions will
open up in something that looks very much like the old Windows Desktop
environment. You can switch back and forth between Metro and the new
Desktop, though Microsoft wants people to eventually use only Metro.
3) The Desktop screen lacks a Start button, so it's hard to start programs
from there. Microsoft's idea is that users should learn to go to the
Metro tiles to start programs or access settings, even if many programs,
including some Windows utilities, will open up in Desktop. To get back
to the tiled Start screen with a mouse or touchpad, move the mouse
cursor to the top right corner of the screen, then swipe it down to the
"Start" icon that appears. If you have a touch screen, reveal the Start
icon by swiping in from the right edge of the screen.
4) In the
Desktop environment, you can glance at the Taskbar to see which Desktop
programs are running. If you're a mouse or touchpad user in Metro and
want to see what's running, you have to know this trick: Move the cursor
into the top left corner of the screen, then drag it down along the
left edge of the screen. If you have a touch screen, swipe in from the
left edge, then quickly swipe back in.
5) Neither environment will
show you programs that are running in the other environment, but if you
have a touch screen, swiping in from the left side of the screen lets
you jump between open applications. The "Alt-Tab" combination does the
same thing with a keyboard, in case you aren't using a touch screen.
6) There are two versions of Internet Explorer, one for each environment. A
Web page you open in one doesn't appear in the other, so if you're
trying to find your way back to a page, it helps to remember which
browser you were using.
7) When using Metro on a touch screen, you
close a program by first swiping your finger down from the top edge of
the screen. That shrinks the window. Then you swipe your finger down to
the bottom edge of the screen. Don't stray to the right or left edges of
the screen, or the app will end up "docked" in a column along that
edge. You can perform the same action with a mouse cursor by clicking
and dragging from the top edge of the screen, but using the old "Alt-F4"
command is easier.
8) In the Desktop version of Internet Explorer,
you can see at a glance which pages you have open in "tabs." In Metro,
each Web page fills the screen, leaving no room for tabs.
which other pages are open on a touch-screen computer, you swipe your
finger down from the top of the screen to reveal thumbnails of the other
windows. Don't sweep too far, or you'll shrink the window instead.
you're using a mouse in Metro, you right-click anywhere on the screen
to reveal the tabs. Of course, this means right-clicking no longer does
any of things it can be used for in previous versions of Windows, such
as letting you open a link in a new tab.
introduced Windows 95, some people thought it was amusing and
counterintuitive that the procedure for shutting down the computer began
with the "Start" button. In Windows 8, that incongruity is gone along
with the Start button, but shutting down with a mouse or touchpad isn't
obvious either. Move the cursor into the top right corner of the screen.
A menu will pop out. Sweep down to the "Settings" button that appears,
and click it. Then click "Power," then "Shut down." If you're on a touch
screen, start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, then tap