Windows 8: Remember what your mom said about books & their covers

By | July 10, 2012

So you’ve installed Windows 8 Release Preview like I told you to, yeah? Stop it. I can hear you from here. “wtf, where’s my damn start menu? how the hell…”

I have been using Windows 8 as my only operating system at my workstation since Consumer Preview and here’s my recommendation: do not judge your Windows 8 experience until you have used the operating system for 40 hours. This is especially true if your install will be desktop (keyboard/mouse). It doesn’t mean you install it and a week later you make a judgment. No, it means, for example, you use it 8 hours a day, every day, for 5 days. That kind of “40 hours.”

Just trust me.

And as for that Start button? Get over it. You still have one. And for an overview of the changes and other nuances, go hit up one of the 1,000,004 blogs out there. This ain’t that. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I figured I’d use my little corner to point out some things I’ve either yet to see or have only seen a very small amount of times on sites around the interwebs – namely, how Windows 8 impacts your desktop experience. Y’know, that thing you get paid to sit in front of all day, not the one that you go home and dick around on.

So if you are rocking a Keyboard/Mouse setup for your Windows 8 installation (I’m not lucky enough to own a tablet/slate device of any form yet), here are a couple of helpful tips from my experience:

  • Metro apps, and the Start Screen, can exist on only one of your monitors (if you have a multi-monitor setup)
    • Quick key to change that monitor, WinKey+PgUp/PgDn
  • When you install any app, all of the icons that used to show up on your Start Menu will now litter your Start Screen. This problem is isolated to the installation of “desktop” applications (read: programs you have on your Win7/WinXP machines today), but still poses a problem to the end-user. It’s my hope that Microsoft finds a way to either alleviate this, or at least provide a quicker & easier way to multi-select tiles on the Start Screen so they can be unpinned quicker than they can today
  • To “select” things (not choose) on the Start Screen, right-click your mouse.
    • Furthermore, when in doubt in any metro app, move your mouse to the top of the screen and right-click. This will bring up the app bars for it (if there are any) offering you additional options.
  • To close a Metro App
    Remember that with Metro apps, when you switch away from them they aren’t closed. They do, however, use significantly less system resources and will eventually close as you work w/ your PC and open more apps. But hey, I’m OCD. I want that thing closed. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

    1. Drag down – “grab” the top of the screen your metro app is on, and drag it down to the bottom of the screen
    2. Good ol’ Alt+F4 – doing what it’s done since, what, 1981?
    3. Close from the tray – right click the app when showing in the tray, choose “close”
  • “What time is it?”
    WinKey+C pops the charms bar, but has the added advantage of showing you the time
  • Install programs, but don’t pin everything under the sun. That just clutters up your Start Screen, making you less efficient. Instead, pin only what you access all the time, and use the following method to get to those once-in-a-while programs:
    1. Windows Key (to go to Start Screen)
    2. Start typing. Searches your installed programs immediately.
  • Since you can see how integral the keyboard has become to the Windows 8 desktop experience, check out this full list of keyboard shortcuts.
  • “How do I get this program to start up automatically?” or “where the hell is my startup folder?”
    1. WinKey+R (run dialog)
    2. type ‘shell:startup’
    3. Copy program shortcut to there

Have more interesting tips or tricks you’ve found that make your Windows 8 experience great? Comment it up