Windows 8 FEATURE
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M AIN METRO START SCREEN The Start screen is a living desktop comprised of a mass of interactive tiles. These not only launch the relevant applications – both Metro Style apps and traditional desktop applications – but display snippets of data, such as upcoming appointments and new emails. The depth of tile stacks increases on larger screens, but the new interface requires a lot of side-scrolling, which is hardly intuitive on desktop PCs.
W INDOWS STORE The design of the Windows Store echoes the Start screen, with apps tesselated together into categories such as Games or Music. The Store will eventually house both Metro Style and desktop apps, and developers have the opportunity to offer time-limited trials of apps.
P ERSONALISATION A click on your profile name provides the option to personalise settings, such as your profile photo, Metro background colour/pattern, and the photo used on the new lock screen (automatically activated after a set time, or by pressing Windows-L on the Start screen).
S EARCH The Search charm allows you to search within individual Metro apps installed on your PC. By default, it’s set to search for apps – which you can also do simply by starting to type on the Start screen. However, click Store, for example, and you can search for apps in Microsoft’s market, or click Music to search for individual tracks or albums.
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T HUMBNAILS Move your mouse/finger to the top left of the screen and drag down, and you’re presented with a strip of thumbnails of recently opened applications. As you can see from our screen grab, sometimes the thumbnails fail to deliver a live preview, which makes them of little more use than the Metro Start tiles.
C HARMS The horribly named Charms are activated by sending the mouse to the top right of the screen, or dragging in from the left on touchscreens, or by pressing Windows-C. They include options to search (see right), share data from apps, check the status of connected devices, or twiddle with your PC’s settings (see bottom right).
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B OTTOM OPTIONS Right-click on a Metro tile (or hold down your finger) to activate options to unpin, uninstall or turn off live data for an app. This menu also has the option to make tiles larger or smaller; only full-width tiles display live data. Right-click on the background to see a full list of apps.
PC PRO•JUNE 2012
Z OOMED-OUT VIEW Click on the magnifying-glass icon in the bottom-right corner – or pinch to zoom out – and find a bird’s eye view of your desktop. From here you can rename groups of tiles, or quickly jump to a specific group.
D ESKTOP The traditional Windows desktop is still in Windows 8, accessible via the Metro tile or by clicking Windows-D. Controversially, the Start button has been replaced with a blank gap, from where you can left-click to go back to the Start screen or right-click for a list of advanced options. The old Windows Start menu is no more.
S ETTINGS The Settings charm contains options to switch on/off the notifications in the top-right corner of the Start screen, and manage your network connections and speaker volume. Oddly, it’s where you switch off or restart your PC, too.
PC PRO•JUNE 2012