Windows 8 has a variety of new features and improvements one would really like to try out. With the integration of Metro UI features, Full screen App options, Windows 8 Desktop, Metro tiled Start Screen view, and Search charms, the expectations from the new release by Microsoft have reached to entirely new levels. This article aims knowing these features in Windows 8 with a certain level of interest based depth. In particular, the most talked about Windows 8 Desktop, Metro Start Screen and Windows 8 Search is explored here.
Windows 8 Desktop Personalization
Unlike Windows 7 and earlier Windows releases that launch desktop after you boot your system, Windows 8 shows up the transformed Metro Start Screen that has tiles for shortcuts to Control panel, Desktop, Windows Explorer, Windows App Store and many more options. The launch screen is somewhat on the same lines as Windows Phone 7 Metro UI. You may access Desktop by clicking on its tile just below the Video tile.
As soon as you see the Desktop you will notice the missing circular Start button. However, you can access the Start Screen thumbnail by moving the cursor in the bottom left corner. You can go to Windows 8 Start Screen directly by clicking on this thumbnail from where you can start the apps and other applications. Also in previous article, I discussed way to change the start screen background in Windows 8.
Many of the UI elements in Windows 8 Desktop only come to the surface when you use the related functions. Like an external storage device will let you see an overhauled auto-run window showing in the system notification space on your desktop notifying new storage device found. It is not merely a notification pop-up but also has some options incorporated. You can open the folder, arrange backup for the drive or use ReadyBoost to increase the system speed.
Desktop and Metro Start menu, both views, in Windows 8 has an easy to access Charms bar that shows up at the right-side. This bar has options that provide access to Search, Sharing, Settings and Basic Actions. To bring Charms bar up, use the keyboard combination Windows logo key + C or hover the mouse cursor at the top or bottom right corner of the screen. Other necessary information like time, date, day, internet status and battery status is also displayed on the screen in the bottom-right corner.
From the Charms bar, you can access the Settings pane in Windows 8. Settings allow you to Shutdown, Restart or put your PC to Sleep including many other system related options like Network settings, volume management, Notifications, Display and Power settings.
An interesting addition to the bars list is the “Switch list” that appears on the left side when you hover your mouse over the top-left side of the screen. This list has all the active Metro apps listed in small thumbnails and it makes switching between all these Apps open in the background fairly convenient.
Windows 8 Start Search Tips
Start Search is also accessible through Charms bar and includes Apps, Settings and Files as well as some already installed Apps to let you find and start these applications quickly.
Windows 8 Search option works the same but more efficient way than Windows 7 search displaying the results on the entire screen to allow a filtered search categorized in defined lists set as custom or default. Additionally you can right-click on an application and run it as an administrator or do feats like opening new window, file location, pin applications to Taskbar and Start Screen.
You can also search via online sources by signing in with your Microsoft account. After signing in, type in your search keywords and Microsoft Search will obtain results from online sources. You can also see the search results by Bing for the same keywords you typed in by clicking on Internet Explorer.
Windows 8 Start Screen
The entire Windows 8 operations and functions are summarized and made accessible in a common interface, the Start Screen. You can easily navigate to custom installed Applications, Desktop, Windows Explorer, Task Manager, and many others directly from the Start Screen. It is crafted in a way to save the user from opening a number of Explorer windows to access different applications. It already has Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, Desktop, Task Manager, full screen Apps shortcuts and other such programs pinned to Start screen and you can freely add any more programs, applications or widgets to Windows 8 Start screen.
You can assign a tile the position which you find more convenient by dragging the tile to that area of the screen. To get assistance with Windows 8 Start Menu you can also use the scroll bar at the bottom. The User Tile lets you log off from your account, lock the active screen, add another user or change how the user tile looks by going to the personalization window to change picture, color or do more customizations.
In Windows 8, Desktop, Start search and Start menu are the basic features one would get to know before plunging deep into the system. Let me know if there is any other feature that should be added to this list of Windows 8’s salient features.