For the first time in almost 20 years, you’ll need to relearn how to use Windows. Windows 8 is a dramatic change from previous versions of Windows. The most obvious difference between Windows 7 and Windows 8 is the user interface.
“Instead of the familiar desktop, you see a handsome, modern, slick world of large, scrolling tiles and simpler, full-screen apps best used on a touch screen and inspired by tablets and smartphones,” says Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD. This is the Start screen and it replaces the Start Menu every Windows user knows, he says. This provides an at-a-glance view of key information.
The old desktop is still there, with your taskbar, folders and windows, there’s just a new layer, driven by the tiles, says Kyle Wagner, Gizmodo.
The desktop is like another app with the screen as a launchpad for applications. If you only need to launch an application, you just click the Start screen. If you need fileand navigation features, you still have access to the desktop.
Navigating the Start screen is easy, says Loyd Case, PCWorld. “If you’re using a mouse with a wheel, moving the wheel scrolls left and right. If you’re launching a touchpad, swiping left and right (with one finger) scrolls the tile list. You can drag individual tiles to any location,” he says.
No more moving a file with drag and drop. This happens through right-clicking and menus. In Windows 7, right-clicking brought up a context menu. When you right-click in Windows 8, it pulls up a bar at the bottom with context items. Quick tip offered by PCWorld: Navigate between the Start screen tiles using the arrow keys.
Another feature is the Charms bar. It appears when you swipe from the right edge of the screen. The charms include Search, Settings, Share, Devices and a button that returns you to the Start screen, Mossberg says. The charms are tuned to whatever app you’re using. And you can split the screen so two apps are visible at once, he says.
The bottom line: “Once you get used to it, it offers performance improvements, a new file system, easier recovery from system problems, better cloud integration and other minor enhancements,” says Case. That is, once you get over the Start screen.
— Adapted from “Windows pushes into the tablet age,” Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD; “Windows 8 Review: incredibly innovative, incredibly important, not quite incredible,” Kyle Wagner, Gizmodo; “Windows 8: The official review,” Loyd Case, PCWorld.