Years ago, upgrading to a new Windows version only meant working your way around a more polished version of the previous one. Essentially, each new Microsoft operating system has a learning curve, but through the uniquely combined new and old interfaces involved in every release, mastery of the new version becomes typically easy.
However, people have been saying that it’s no longer the case for Bill Gates’ latest release launched last October. The new Windows 8 delivers such a dramatic departure from its predecessors that from looks alone, one can easily conclude that it’s a tough pill to swallow. Due to its completely new interface, the learning curve becomes particularly steep. And it doesn’t help that the UI was designed to cater to touchscreen devices.
As long as you have a tablet, Windows 8 isn’t going to be a big issue. But if you’re still using a laptop that doesn’t have a fully touch-based display, then it may require a little getting used to. But worry not because you can still find your way around the alien landscape that is Windows 8 using your trusty trackpad, keyboard, or mouse.
Switch back to the old-school desktop
Windows 8 does not feature a desktop similar to what Windows 7 had upfront, but it’s still there running somewhere in the background. To switch back to the classic desktop environment from the modern UI (called Metro UI) in the simplest manner, just press the Windows key or logo on your laptop or desktop PC’s keyboard. Pressing this key repeatedly toggles between the classic desktop and the modern UI.
If you don’t want to fidget through your keyboard, you can also use your mouse to click on the desktop tile to switch to the classic desktop interface. If you want to undo the UI change, just move your mouse cursor to the lower left corner of your screen until the Start icon pops up. Move the mouse to the sleek and simple Windows icon and click it.
Use Windows 8 hotkeys
David Murphy of Gizmodo wrote a useful article called “Windows 8: 20 Tips and Tricks” which lists down several hotkeys that can make your Windows 8 experience on your classic laptop or desktop PC more bearable. Fly through the new OS by hitting these combinations on your keyboard:
- Windows Key + Tab – Opens up the left-hand “Switch List”
- Windows Key + C – Opens up the right-hand Charms Bar
- Windows Key + I – Opens up your ever-important Settings Menu
- Windows Key + T – Dumps you back to Desktop Mode and cycles through your open windows on the taskbar
- Windows Key + Shift + . – Docks the app to the left, middle, or right side of the screen with each press
- Windows Key + M – Jumps to the Desktop and minimizes all applications
- Windows Key + Q – Opens up Windows 8’s global search utility within Metro
In a Business Insider article titled “Windows 8 Is For Touch Screens. Period.” writer Matt Rosoff says Microsoft is going to have a hard time selling Windows 8 on regular laptops. But even if people don’t have touchscreen-enabled devices, the new OS is not going to slide into irrelevance due to the fact that it caters perfectly to a certain class of user – that which includes busy information workers who spend a lot of time using office apps like Outlook and Excel or cloud-based productivity tools like SkyDrive or RingCentral.
So give it a shot even if you’re just using a regular laptop. With enough practice, you’ll certainly get a lot of work done using this new OS.