First Impressions of Windows 8

Once you get used to Windows 8 and its nuances, the whole thing is pretty slick. Combine it with a powerful laptop and you have a computer that is ready to use almost as soon as you turn it on. The start page with Metro apps (now called Windows 8 Store apps) might look pretty, but underneath is some lost functionality.

Take for instance a common task that I would perform since forever I can remember. Alt Print Screen. This would take a screen shot of the current application and put it in the clipboard. I would then paste it into a Word document or paste it into Paint where I would then cut out the part I needed and then paste it into a Word document (or save it for a webpage or something). In Windows 8 with their brand spanking new Fresh Paint I can't paste. I'll repeat that, I can not paste an image from the clipboard into the brand spanking new Fresh Paint. So yeah there is some core functionality that has been around for as long as I can remember; now gone. Fortunately there is paint.net which does everything I need, and I guess I'll be using that more often now.

Another step backwards is the implementation of Skype. On my old system I had the option of having Skype run automatically in the background when the computer started. Now I need to manually open Skype. Another annoyance is that these metro apps are full screen (unless you've worked out how to dock the app to left or right) which is a real pain if you need to see a couple of programs at the same time as video chat. Oh, and there is no such thing as minimize in Metro apps, you need to click the bottom left corner of your screen to bring the start screen back up again.

The Start menu is gone and replaced by a start screen. The start screen appears easier to customize than the start menu, but make sure you get a quick introduction to it from someone that knows the ins and outs. There are a few quirks (i.e. moving your cursor to the corners of the screen to invoke certain functionality) that would have taken a lot longer had I not had a good introduction, so thanks to the great staff at Digital Star for that (which is where I also bought my new computer from).

Windows 8 tips

  • left click bottom left corner brings up the start screen. If you're already on the start screen, it will bring up the desktop.
  • right click bottom left corner brings up a context menu for control panel, command prompt etc.
  • top left and move the cursor down a bit shows all your open applications. (normal applications are grouped together under the desktop)
  • top right or bottom right will bring up another menu (settings etc).
  • on the desktop, click bottom right will minimize all your desktop applications
  • drag a metro app to the left or right to dock/lock the app in place while you use the remainder of the screen for other stuff
  • drag a metro app to the bottom of the screen to close it

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