Don’t panic just yet – here are all the scary things you need to learn to use Windows 8

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Microsoft Surface

Windows 8 is coming! Windows 8 is coming! Judging by the reaction to Windows 8 on various technology and business blogs, it’s a miracle society ever moved past MS-DOS and adopted Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows operating system in the first place. Bloggers seem to be scared of the new tile-based Windows user interface, and they think consumers and enterprise users aren’t ready for the big change. Moreover, there are all kinds of “secret” new gestures that users will have to know to navigate around the U.S., and tech writers apparently aren’t confident that people are up to the task. We went through the big ones in last night’s Microsoft Surface review, but in case you missed it, let’s take a look at all the scary new things you need to learn to use Windows 8 and Windows RT:

  • Swipe up on the lock screen to input your password and unlock Windows. On a non-touch device or when using a mouse and keyboard, simply tapping any key will bring you to the login screen.
  • Swipe in from the right side or touch your mouse cursor to the top- or bottom-right corner of the display to access Search, Share, the Windows start button, Device controls and system settings.
  • Swipe in from the left side or click your mouse on the top-left corner of the screen to open the previous app.
  • Swipe in from the left and then back to the edge of the screen to open a visual representation of all recent apps, and tap one to open it. The same can be done by touching your mouse cursor to the bottom-left corner and moving up, or to the top-left corner and moving down.
  • Inside an app, swiping up from the bottom or down from the top will open the app menu. The same can be done with a mouse by simply right-clicking in any open space on the screen.
  • Closing an app completely instead of leaving it open in the background has confused some people, but it really couldn’t be easier. Simply move your mouse cursor to the top of the display where your pointer icon will become a hand, click and hold to grab the window, and then drag it down to the bottom of the screen to close the app. Actually, I suppose it could be easier — on devices that support touch like the Surface tablet, one quick swipe starting off the display at the top and continuing down the bottom of the screen will do the trick.

It’s also important to remember that in desktop mode, the Start button and Start menu are gone. The tile-based UI is now your Start screen and getting used to it shouldn’t take very long. If you can’t grasp the concept of living without the Start button though, it’s easy and free to get it back.

And as we noted, Windows 8 and RT both have an awesome universal search feature. Simply start typing “H E L P” right on the Start screen and universal search will give you a link to Microsoft’s online support site.

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