Sunday, November 11, 2012

Unfogging Windows 8

Windows 8 has officially been out for about two weeks, and now that we've had a chance to do some digging/playing in the real public version, there are a few useful tips that will make the drastic changes a bit more bearable.

How to close the new Apps:
One of the most irritating things we initially encountered with Windows 8 was once you opened one of the new apps, there was no Common Sense way of closing it, no Red X in the upper right hand corner, no File>Close menu, nothing! We actually ended up just restarting the computer initially just to close an app! Thankfully Windows 8 booted in about 38 seconds... though this still is not practical. Eventually, we stumbled upon how to close an app, and it’s actually quite simple... once you know how. First, take your mouse to the top of the app, and you will see a hand appear. Now simply click and hold at the top center of the app window and drag it to the bottom center of the screen. An easy task, we just wish Microsoft would have said something… anything about it.

The Woes of the missing “Start” Button:
One of the biggest noticeable changes in Windows 8 is that there is no “Start” button like previous versions of Windows since Windows 95 and was easily accessed through the Widows key on your keyboard. While the key still functions, it only takes you to the new Start Menu ‘Metro’ interface. Now, there is still some functionality in the lower-left hand corner of your screen, and if you simply hover in the corner of the screen you will see a “Start” Mini-Window that if clicked, takes you back to Metro, though if you right-click, this pops up menu options for Windows 8, including direct access to Programs and Features (to uninstall programs), System, Control Panel, and several others. It does not have an All Programs option, you cannot add programs to this list (from what we can tell), nor does it give you access to commonly used programs.

The missing Windows Search function:
Where oh where has this f’n thing gone?” seems to be the theme of Windows 8 (and yes, it got to the point where about every three words were ‘WTF’ when playing around with Windows 8). As for the missing windows search function, there are three ways to accomplish this. The easiest one is while on the Metro Screen, to simply start typing what you are searching for. Coming in close second is to use a Windows shortcut (this is meant to search for files), “Windows key + F”. The more convoluted way is to access the Charms Bar on the right side of the desktop and select Search.

How to Restart, Shut Down, Sleep:
Oh, we almost forgot! Without a Start button, which is where most people either find their programs, search for something within Windows, or to simply Shut Down or Restart the computer... how do you do any of these without the Start Button we all have fallen in love with for the last 17 years? Drag your mouse all the way to the Upper Right hand corner (the furthest area from where you were use to looking for this), sit there for a few seconds, and this new “Charms” Bar appears. At the bottom of the bar, select the Settings option, then select Power, and all your normal options are there. Before SchaOn found this out, he was literally removing the battery from the Mini to restart it (because he couldn't close programs).

A Pseudo Programs List:
As most of us are familiar, Windows has always had easy access to a list of installed programs, of course with no start button that isn't really an option any more. There is a workaround of sorts that will show most of what you’re looking for. It is a custom taskbar toolbar.

This is a horrifically clunky way of getting your list of programs somewhat back, and honestly, not highly beneficial for most, though if you want, you can Right-Click on the taskbar and select toolbars. Select New Folder and a window will pop up. Browse to “C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\”, select Programs and click Select Folder. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of shortcuts in the Programs list, but they can be added through the drag-and-drop method, but you will have to find them first.

There are some better options through third party programs (such as Stardock and ViStart) and we will be posting more information about them as we have the opportunity to test them.