How to Use Windows 8
  • How to Use Windows 8

    Introduction to Windows 8 Without Touch

    Every few years, Microsoft updates its Windows operating system in an attempt to improve the customer experience. The newest version—released in 2012—saw a radical redesign from what consumers were accustomed to with the previous releases of Windows. Windows 8 was optimized for touch screen devices, although it can still be used with a mouse and keyboard much the same as its predecessors. Read on to learn how to use Windows 8 without a touch screen device.

    Using Windows 8 Without Touch

    1.       The Start Menu and Corners in Windows 8

    For years, Windows users have utilized the Start menu located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to access their programs. One of the biggest changes to Windows 8 is that the Start menu has been drastically changed to make Windows 8 touch-friendly. Instead of a button to bring up a menu of files, left clicking in the bottom left corner will open the Start screen where you can pin tiles of programs and apps you want to open. Things like “Computer” or “Control Panel” or even the Command Prompt with administrative rights can now be opened by right clicking the bottom left corner to open a shortcut menu of technical options.

    This is likely to cause the most apprehension in switching to Windows 8 for users as it is considerably different than previous versions of Windows. There are, however, advantages to this new system.

    Additionally, you can access different features quickly by moving your mouse into any of the four corners of your screen. The bottom left is the Start menu, top left is your open apps, and either on the right opens the Charm bar.

    2.       Apps and Programs in Windows 8

    With the new touch-friendly interface comes apps. Though these are focused primarily for touch screen users, there may be several that you find useful in the store. These can only be accessed through the Start screen.

    Programs are exactly what you are used to using. Word, Outlook, Photoshop and any other programs you used in older versions of Windows should still work (unless you have Windows RT – more on that later). These can be accessed by creating desktop shortcuts or shortcuts on the Start screen. These are also referred to as “Legacy Apps.”

    Opened apps and programs are located in different spots. On your desktop, you will still have the task bar with all of your open programs displayed like you are used to. Opened apps, however, can be accessed through a different menu by moving your mouse to the top left corner of your screen and sliding the mouse down. To see what apps and programs are open in the same menu, use the Alt + Tab command.

    One last thing to note with apps: to close an open app, grab it (through the side bar if it is in the background, or by moving your mouse to the top of the screen your mouse changes to a little hand) then drag it all the way to the bottom of your screen. Once you grab an app, you can also slide it to the left or right side to open it in a smaller window to allow for multitasking.

    3.       Charms Bar in Windows 8

    Moving your mouse into the top right or bottom right corners opens the Charms bar. Here you will find multiple features, including a Search menu and Settings for your computer or the currently open app. You will also find several other options, including the Shut Down menu.

    4.       Different Versions of Windows 8

    Like previous versions of Windows, there are multiple versions of Windows 8 designed for different categories of users. For Windows 8, there are four: Windows 8 RT, Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise.

    Let’s talk about Windows 8 RT first. This is the touch-focused version intended for tablets. For the consumer, the biggest difference between this and any other version of Windows is that this will not run any legacy apps (programs such as Photoshop) except for the Microsoft Office suite. Essentially, nothing that runs from the desktop will run on Windows 8 RT.

    Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro are largely the same, except Pro includes a few additional functions Microsoft believes are only for power users. These features include the ability to remote into the computer, BitLocker and Windows Media Player. Windows Enterprise contains all these features and is primarily for businesses.

    5.       Other Improvements in Windows 8

    Windows 8 includes other enhancements to previous versions of Windows, but you will find that many of the features from Windows 7 are still around. Some of these features such as the Task Manager or File Explorer have been improved to provide more information in a cleaner interface. However, many of the things you are used to using with Windows are still around.

    If you are just upgrading a computer you currently have, any version except the Windows RT will do. For new computers, it really depends on what you are looking for, but the Pro version should be fine in most circumstances.

    One of the best things about Windows 8 is what manufacturers have been able to do with the computers. Now you have everything from the working tablet Surface RT to full-powered desktop beasts to something portable, flexible and decently powerful like the Lenovo Yoga. Regardless of which you take, this introduction to Windows 8 should help you use your PC with or without a touch screen.

    How to Bring Back the Start Menu On Windows 8

    If the radical redesign of Windows 8 is a little too much change for you and you would simply like to return to the classic look and functionality of the Windows you are accustomed to, it is possible to bring back the Start menu on Windows 8 machines.

    If you want the old Start menu back, you can download programs that will recreate it in Windows 8. Classic Start, available at ninite.com for free, is one such program.

    Simply install the program and your Start menu will return!