With Microsoft’s official retirement (no longer supporting) the venerable Windows XP operating system (April 8th, 2014) former XP users are finally taking a well-deserved look into Windows 8…the “new guy.” Strangely enough Windows 8 isn’t all that new anymore. For the record Windows 8 will be 2 years old in October of this year, not ancient, but in the IT universe definitely getting along in years. In October of 2013 Windows 8 was updated to Windows 8.1, and most recently 8.1 was updated as well.
If you are one of the many vocal Windows 8 desktop users, we have you (as well as Microsoft) to thank for this update. There are a number of helpful tweaks and return of missing features desktop/mouse users have been asking about for some time.
First and foremost, the ability to access and do almost anything from the desktop. A user can now access both the Legacy (older) and Modern apps from their desktop. This is possible now because the Task Bar now remains visible whether yo8u are in the more traditional looking desktop (Legacy) mode or the newest Modern mode (The tiled start screen). Even if the Modern tile is in full screen mode/display, the Task Bar is visible. You will be able to pin Windows Store apps to and launch them from the desktop as well as the Task Bar. You will still have to be in the Start Screen (in the All Apps view) to pin new apps to the Task Bar. For those of you who find it cumbersome to switch back and forth from Start Screen. Modern, and the Legacy desktop this will be a welcome change.
Another nice addition, which you may not notice, is how Win 8.1 Update installs. The OS now detects whether you’re using a tablet or desktop and mouse setup, and delivers the best experience for your device…what do you know, a very handy change! This means upon launch, if you’re on a desktop computer, the OS will boot straight to the desktop user interface, looking much like the desktop you are probably once accustomed to as well as allowing you to use the keyboard/mouse set up. Tablet users, you will boot to the touchable tiles of Microsoft’s Modern interface. You can tweak any of these changes if you like in the settings (Start Up Preferences). In the Start Screen, try using the “PC Settings Live Tile” it’s new! You can also use the Charms menu and choose “Change PC Settings.” Once in the PC Settings, choose “PC and devices” and start your tweaking.
Look through the PC Settings – “Search and apps” menu. From here you choose specifically which app will be the default app for a given file type (“Defaults” sub-menu) Windows 8.1 Update is designed to be smarter about file associations trying to learn and adapt to your specific user style & choice. If it doesn’t make the choice you would go into PC Setting and make the adjustments to customize your device to do exactly what you want.
Whoo boy! This was one of the first area I heard complaints about when Windows 8 hit the scene. There are a number of ways to search but there is one caveat…knowing the name of the app you are looking for is crucial. The latest update adds a search field to the Start screen’s top-right corner, giving users a more obvious spot to input queries.
The Search function can effectively sift through Web search results, saved photos, and your local files. But as I said, remember the app name as it is used/called in the Win 8.1 environment, or you most likely will not find that for which you are searching.
Along with making it operation within the desktop a more efficient and productive experience, Windows 8.1 Update also gives a lot more incentive to the die-hard Keyboard and mouse user to use the Modern User Interface. Now, Live Tiles can now be uninstalled, resized, unpinned, and otherwise manipulated via right-click context menus. Previously, mouse users had to select a Live Tile, then navigate to the bottom of the screen to access controls. User this new interface you will find Live Tile use & cleanup much easier and efficient.
Another new feature with the Windows 8.1 update that you may not know about or notice immediately is that you will have to look for your newly downloaded apps. In XP & Win 7 the apps made themselves glaringly, sometimes obnoxiously apparent. Sometime you had to remove their installed short cuts from multiple locations. This is not the case with the updated Windows 8.1 – the apps do not show up on their own…sneaky little weasels.
When you install new Windows Store apps, they automatically show up in the All Apps view but not in your Task Bar or your Start Screen. However you will be given you will receive two notifications to help you locate your new apps.
– One will pop up in the upper right corner once the download I complete.
– In the All App screen there will be a notification in the lower left corner (this remains until app is opened for the first time).
Since you will have to use the All Apps screen to locate new apps it behooves you to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of this view. Use the All Apps view as it was intended, as a catch all and the ultimate search field. Doing so not only brings efficacy to your searches and your computing use, it allows you to maximize your Task Bar & Start
Access to the All Apps view can be achieved by swiping up from the bottom of the Start screen, or, if you’re using a mouse, click the downward-pointing arrow in the bottom left. In the All Apps view your apps can be cataloged in various ways:
– App Name
– Download & Install Date
Now all that’s left is for you’re the reader to get on your system and give these various tips and insight a run down. Please let us know how your experience was and fill us in on any insights you discover along the way.