I recently decided it was time to invest in a new, more powerful pc. More on how I made that decision another time. Here I want to focus on the ‘upgrade’ to Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system.
While highly publicized and pretty at first glance, I have found it a tough adjustment. The first thing I had to do was turn off the flashing tiles on the Window 8 new desktop or “Metro” screen. Talk about a distraction! The one place we don’t need more distractions is at our computers.
I then rearranged the tiles to have those that are meaningful to me at the far left side. Quite a few I don’t see ever using, but perhaps that will change. I have yet to spend a significant amount of time searching through the Windows 8 apps to see if there are tools I will enjoy. I’ll bet there are – just not hearing a buzz about tyem yet.
Windows 8 was developed with touch screens in mind. I have found that in a computer with a traditional (about 90 degree) angle of screen to keyboard, like the one pictured above, I wasn’t likely to touch the screen. The ergonomics of touching the screen at that angle are less comfortable and I’ve become accustomed to the efficiency of the keyboard when using my computer. I’m an iPad and iPhone user so very comfortable with using touch screens on flat devices, just don’t find touch a likely activity on a traditional pc. Toshiba, however, makes a pc/tablet convertible ultrabook that has a screen which can slide over the keyboard. I would love to give this a try. They might have something with this combo, assuming glare isn’t a problem.
I found I was missing simple ways to access key features without touching the screen. What used to be available through the Start button now takes some off-screen mousing and several clicks to access. To turn off the computer I used to hit Start/Shut Down. With Windows 8 you wave the mouse to the lower right corner off screen to bring up the charms. This feels a bit vague and sometimes takes several attempts. From the charms, select power and then shut down. Waving the mouse off-screen is simply not intuitive, and adding clicks for such a routine function doesn’t make sense to me, so one of the first things I did was install a button on my Legacy Desktop to be able to Shut Down with one click. Since I still find myself operating in Legacy Desktop mode most of the time, this is more efficient. Read this article for clear steps on how to make shutting down simpler. I did this and immediately felt it was worthwhile.
You might even wish to configure the Legacy Desktop to start at launch. I haven’t implemented this yet, but might. Let me know if you do, and what you think of it. Note that Windows 8 treats the Legacy Desktop as one app.
I spoke with Microsoft Canada folks at a recent event and was grateful when they sent me a link to what’s new with the mouse and keyboard with Windows 8. I’ve compiled a few of the most helpful shortcuts in a printable one pager for you. Feel free to download your copy.
I’d love to hear what you think of Windows 8. Did it drive you to switch to an Apple product? Which environment makes you most productive?