My Windows 7 install on my laptop became corrupted and I decided to fix things with a clean install of the OS. Since the Dell restore image on the laptop came will all the original bloatware, I thought it would be a good time to see what all the Windows 8 fuss was about (good and bad).
Since I just purchased my laptop, I qualified for a $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. That was cheap enough that if I hated it, I wasn’t out much for trying it. I chose the save nothing upgrade option and punched go.
After the upgrade completed and I logged in, I was met with the “Start Screen”. My first impression while pretty looking, were thoughts of media usability reviews and how I was going to adjust to this radical change.
After about 20 to 30 minutes playing with the interface, I was able to get around with a fair amount of ease. My advice is learn the keyboard shortcuts:
- Press the Windows key to enter the tiled Start screen.
- The Windows key + M minimizes everything that’s showing on the desktop.
- The Windows key + E opens Explorer for quick access to folders.
- On the Start screen, press the Windows key + D to instantly get to the desktop.
- The Windows key + Tab opens a list of currently running programs.
- The Windows key + Q opens a global search menu. Type what you’re looking for and where you would like to look.
- The Windows key + W opens a search in your system settings to quickly locate and change system properties.
- The Windows key + F opens a file and folder search.
- The Windows key + Pause opens the system properties page to show you a quick rundown of your specs.
- The Windows key + “,” (comma) makes all current windows transparent, giving you a peek at the desktop as long as you hold down the Windows key.
- The Windows key + “.” (period) snaps a window to the right or left side (toggling each time you press “.”).
- The Windows key + R prompts the Run command—useful for quickly launching apps and other routines with a command prompt.
- The Windows key + X opens the Quick Access Menu, exposing system functionality such as the Command Prompt, Disk Management, File Explorer, Run, and more. Alternatively, you can right-click on the bottom right corner of the screen to spawn the Quick Access Menu.
- The Windows key + I opens the settings menu, giving you quick access to the Control Panel, Personalization, and your Power button, among other features.
I was disappointed that the desktop did not have the traditional start menu. Although you can use the keyboard shortcut to jump to the start screen, I just wanted a menu on my task bar. It is probably because I am getting older and don’t like giving up functionality, which makes me cranky.
All was not lost as I remember reading about start menu replacements for Windows 8. After some research, I settled on Pokki Menu. It doesn’t stray too far from the old menu while providing an updated appearance with enhanced functionality. For example, Pokki menu allows you to skip the start screen and go straight to the desktop. You can also disable the hot corners if you find those are getting in your way and more…
Now that I have a start menu, shorter boot times, snappier applications, simplified backup, and more; I am quite happy with Windows 8. It is not as bad as detractors claim it is. Full disclosure: I use Android for mobile and desktop Linux on a regular basis as well. Almost forgot, “Happy Holidays!”