Windows 8 Consumer Preview Video Review

Windows 8 marks the biggest changes to the operating system's user interface in about two decades. Windows 1.0 and 2.0 retained much from MS-DOS, while v3 brought a totally redesigned graphical UI. Microsoft took the world by storm with Windows 95, further refining the look and feel and introducing the Start menu. The following years and new Windows releases didn’t see major GUI changes.

Sure, Windows XP brought the slipstreamed taskbar and Start menu. Windows Vista added a few new menus, meaningful search box and desktop gadgets. Other changes included Aero Peek, and Previews on running applications. Windows 7 replaced the taskbar with the superbar, providing users more control over and visibility into open applications. For the most part the Start menu is the same as Windows Vista with no changes whatsoever. Windows 8's  new tile-like UI Metro does away with it all and where the desktop motif remains for legacy apps, the Start menu is gone. Why fix something that is not broke? After all it only took over a decade to finally get the desktop prefect.

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There's no point in living in the past,  and Microsoft wants to bring you the future -- with a consistent user experience across devices, from traditional PCs, to laptops, to Windows Phone, to Xbox consoles, to tablets and back to traditional PCs. That's the real significance of Metro. Microsoft's goal is to deploy this front end on all devices that run the Windows Kernel.

The Question: Will this one-UI-fits-all strategy work over the long term or will it be a Fad that fades before the next release of Windows? As well as: How will people adapt to the radical changes? I've prepared a series of videos that seek to answer these questions, and to offer tips and tricks to make the jarring changes into a smoother ride.

Giving Control Back to You

In the first video, above, I offer a basic introduction and walk through what's new (Start Screen) and what's missing (Start Menu). It can be a bit jarring experience. I show how you can pin the exact locations from your Start Menu to the new Start Screen, and a few other helpful tweaks.

In the second video, below, I’ll show how to work around the desktop without needing either Start Menu or Start Screen. Also, you can learn how to re-add a miniature Start Menu back to the TaskBar without any 3rd-party application or any Windows registry editing. I know, it's not the full Start Menu but will help you to open applications without being jarred into a full screen window, leaving your work behind.

The third video, below, looks a little in more dealing with Windows 8's dual character and configure the in-nerds (get it?). Windows 8 bring another major change to Windows. It now includes not one but two control panels -- the "classic" Control Panel and the New Metro Control Panel. Disappointing: You need to use both to fully configure Windows. I show you how to access both control panels, but set up the set up is personal preference.

The final video, below, is where Metro meets mouse. I can hear someone crying over there, and there, and even up there all saying: These demos are for touchscreens. What about mouse and keyboard users". Don’t worry I have you covered on that. I even show how to use just a mouse without using a single keyboard shortcut.

Practice Makes Perfect

The mixed motifs -- desktop and Metro -- and missing Start Menu take getting used to. Moving from desktop to Start Screen and back to desktop without a single press of a keyboard button. Navigating the Start Screen isn’t all that hard ether. The trick to the Start Screen is what you should not have pinned and what you should have pinned to there.

I think the All Programs screen is too cluttered. If you have a massive 100+ programs installed like I do on my desktop this All Programs is a giant mess.

As for normal desktop user, the lower left corner is now officially useless. It's like a phantom limb and your habit, the muscle memory, will be to go for the missing Start Menu. Just get into the habit moving the mouse to the top right corner to bring out the Charm Bar. It is the only way to bring out the Shutdown, Restart menu and other normal desktop settings. Also, it's your one stop to finding the Search function. The Bottom left corner only brings the Start Screen, which you can already get via the Charm Bar. So I say to grind it into normal desktop users: Charm Bar, Charm Bar, Charm Bar.

Travis Boyko has work with computers since he was 3 years old. While other children played with toys, he learned DOS commands. He has used every Windows version, as well as Linux, OS/2, OS X, Unix and Windows Server. His software collection goes back to the 1980s and includes original boxes of Windows 1.0, Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0, Lotus 1-2-3 and Windows 7 Signature Edition 32-bit and 64-bit full versions.

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