A First Look at Windows 8

Windows 8 is the next version of the popular operating system created by Microsoft, which is the operating system created for desktop and laptop machines.  The user interface of Windows 8 has changed some, combining the traditional desktop view of Windows 7 with the app view of Windows Phone 7.  Combining these two features, the consumer has the best of both worlds: access to the desktop as you would see in Windows 7, full access to installable programs (like Office, etc.), while also having access to the app store, which has a host of free and paid applications.

Note: This blog post covers Windows 8, not Windows RT or Windows Phone 8, which are going to have similarities.

The app view is a new user interface that traditional users are not going to be immediately used to.  However, as users become more comfortable, apps tend to be more easy to use than programs because of how they are laid out, and because the design of most of the apps are consistent with each other.

Let’s look at the windows 8 app view.  Each app you install as a program on your computer or through the Windows store is a tile on the view.  Some apps display a “live tile” or a tile that displays real-time information.  For instance, the mail app will display a summary of the new messages received right in the tile itself.

windows8 Image 1

Left-clicking on the tile selects the program or application, whereas right-clicking the view loads the windows options for that application. Through these options, the user can uninstall the application, remove it from the app screen, and more.

windows8 Options Bar

Right-clicking on the app view background (anywhere in the blue) provides you with an option to see all applications on a separate listing page shown below.

windows8 All Apps

Depending on the tile selected, apps load within the app view, but programs installed on the computer load in the desktop view, which is also one of the most important tiles on the start menu (shown above (next to last on left-hand side).  This view provides the traditional desktop experience users are familiar with.

To access any menu, move the mouse to a corner of the screen.  For instance, for the start menu, move the mouse to the lower left corner of the screen.  A preview tile appears to you.  Moving the mouse to the upper left corner provides a similar preview capability, but shows the last application used instead.  From the top left corner, if you move the mouse down on the left-hand side, Windows shows all of the currently running applications.

windows8 Start Menu

To access the configuration options for windows, move the mouse to the right hand side, either the top or bottom corner.   A window appears with the following options:

  • Search: Used to search the windows store for new applications.
  • Share: Displays shared folders and other resources.
  • Start: A shortcut to the start view, which is the app view showed above.
  • Devices: Shows devices attached to the PC; this is useful when you have an external monitor attached, as it allows more easily to share the screen to that monitor.
  • Settings: Settings for windows

windows8 Settings

The settings menu (accessible by moving the mouse to the top or bottom right corner) contains the core Windows settings you would find in Windows 7 (such as the control panel), which contains a link to the control panel, options for personalizing your Windows 8 experience, Laptop configuration options, and the power off button.

windows8 Settings

windows8 Settings 2

Windows 8 can be considered a combination of Windows 7 desktop and Windows Phone 7.  Windows 7 users may be a little put off at first, as it takes some getting used to.  In addition, Windows Surface users will experience some differences between the options I laid out above.  For instance, a windows surface user will pull the menu from the left and right sides with your finger, instead of navigating to the corners with a mouse.


One thought on “A First Look at Windows 8

  1. Pingback: Intro to Windows 8 Store Apps Using JavaScript and HTML | On All Things Web

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