Windows 8 is Microsoft’s riskiest project to date – betting that consumers will adapt to an entirely new way of computing that involves touch screens, apps and real-time updates.
OS also features traditional desktop features for those that do not prefer using its tablet interface, and offers flexible navigation thanks to Charms bar that combines OS functionality and app navigation.
Windows 8 features a tile-based user interface designed for touch-screen devices called Modern UI, providing real-time information such as unread email messages, news headlines and stock market prices. Tiles can be moved around by simply swiping them around with one finger; also customizable with icons linking directly to specific applications or features.
The tile-based interface was initially intended for tablets, but works just as effectively on conventional computers with touchscreens or non-touchscreens alike. Furthermore, its software is optimized for touch screens so users can switch between modes with just a swipe of their finger across the screen. Furthermore, its principles mirror those of Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system in providing users an intuitive experience across devices.
Microsoft’s decision to move away from its traditional Windows desktop environment is a daring move that is bound to displease some of its long-time computer-user base, as fewer tasks can be accomplished on PCs with this new tile-based interface. But Microsoft believes this change will attract those with tablets or other mobile devices more readily than before.
Though tile-based interfaces may be simpler for touch devices to navigate, their usability is poor. Their user interface (UI) features gesture ambiguity – where similar (or identical) actions have different results depending on subtle details in how they’re activated or executed – for instance swiping from the right may scroll horizontally or bring up charm bar depending on where and how quickly your finger touches and withdraws itself from the screen.
Windows desktop users have an option for returning to a more familiar experience, but its location and ease of access may make it easily overlooked. A quick return button can be found at the bottom left corner of a taskbar on desktop computer; click it with a mouse or tap it with your finger for access. However, this unlikely makes up for people not being able to launch software through traditional menus anymore.
Users have expressed considerable outrage over Microsoft’s decision to remove the start button in Windows 8; many question why such an important feature should be eliminated. One possible explanation may lie with their shift toward tablet-oriented marketing efforts and emphasise on an app-centric experience – which likely explains their move away from providing users with Start menu or button access.
Start Button 8 is one such program which offers users with a smarter, customizable start menu that features fun skins like an Angry Birds theme. Furthermore, this app lets you select which items should appear in your menu quickly with quick access features built right in.
Another excellent benefit is that it doesn’t hinder access to Windows 8 Modern UI; although, access is slightly more challenging as you must activate Charms then click Start before accessing Metro. Unfortunately this may prove disappointing for desktop users looking for Metro accessibility.
ViStart is a free alternative to Start Button that has the same look and feel of Windows 8, yet is more compact. In addition, its built-in search bar is more responsive than Windows 8. Furthermore, ViStart displays running applications and enables you to end or shut them down with one click.
Start Menu Reviver is another effective choice to restore the classic start button, offering numerous customization features like creating custom menus that include all your applications and folders as well as changing its appearance or selecting different images for start button images. Furthermore, this program can even restore start buttons in older versions of Windows such as XP and Vista.
Windows 8’s Devices Charm makes it easy to manage and configure PC hardware, including printers. In addition, it enables you to play multimedia content from connected media devices (TV, Xbox 360) as well as project apps onto another screen or device quickly and efficiently. This charm is particularly helpful if you have multiple devices connected to your computer that you need quick control of quickly.
Windows 8 operates with a unique menu system called Charms Bar that combines the familiar Start and Control Panel buttons into one convenient toolbar, accessible either by moving mouse cursor to bottom right corner or top-right corner or touching on touch screens and swiping from right edge of screen.
This toolbar features five charms that serve a specific function: Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. The Search charm provides access to a new search feature that works across applications and files, while Share allows Metro apps users to send items via e-mail or social networking sites. Finally, Start opens either the Start screen itself, or, if in desktop applications, that particular application.
The Devices Charm provides an easy way for you to quickly connect and use various USB, wireless, and Bluetooth devices on your PC. It also displays your current power status and battery life; along with recently used apps. Furthermore, using this charm you can modify network, language and power settings on your computer.
The Settings Charm provides a comprehensive listing of system settings, which changes depending on its context. When invoked from desktop OS, it displays links to various control panels and features; when invoked within Metro apps it links directly to their individual settings panes.
Each printer on the market comes equipped with its own set of printing capabilities; however, many share some basic features to make printing from Windows 8 programs easy. When you want to print anything – be it webpage or document – the process should remain the same: first open your desired program before pressing Ctrl+P or clicking File > Print; this will open a Print dialog box where you can choose which options you’d like before finally printing your document or webpage.
Modern apps allow you to print by opening the Charms bar by swiping inward from the right edge, or using Windows Key+K on your keyboard. From there you can select Devices then Print; this will present a list of available printers – with any default printer shown first in this list.
Windows 8 introduces another major advancement to printing capabilities with 3D printer support. Microsoft is making it easier for developers to include this functionality into their apps so you can print that elegant ashtray you’ve been modeling on your Makerbot or Form Labs device right from within an app.
Windows 8 features an innovative printer driver system designed to accommodate more printers with fewer drivers, thus decreasing hard drive space requirements and eliminating some bloatware services included in previous versions of Windows. Hopefully this will address printers going offline unexpectedly – something which has plagued previous iterations of the OS.
Due to these changes, many older printers may no longer function with your new system. If this is the case for you, there are a few steps you can try in order to restore functionality to your printer: If it is networked printer, open Control Panel > Devices and Printers and remove SNMP Status Enabled checkmark from Printer Properties > Printer Properties before trying the latest driver from its manufacturer (if your printer still doesn’t work after this initial approach).