8 UI, Charms, and navigation
you have successfully logged into Windows 8, unlike previous versions of Windows
you do not go straight to the desktop. Instead you get taken to the new Windows
8 Start screen. In this screen there are numerous colored tiles that you click
on to take you to different areas of the operating system. If you want, you can
customise this interface with different colors and backgrounds. If you have
logged in with a Microsoft account, you have access your email (Outlook or
Hotmail) and contacts from the Start screen. Furthermore, you can also access
your facebook contacts from this screen provided that your Facebook account uses
your Microsoft email. Your default start screen settings also include weather
forecasts, stock market updates and news updates.
The learning curve can be quite difficult and even getting used to doing simple
things like turning off the PC can take a while.
The first thing you will need to know about is the Charms (named after the charms on
a charm bracelet). The Charms are accessed by holding your mouse on the top
right or bottom right corners of the screen. There are several keyboard
shortcuts you can use to access the different Charms as well. The Search charm
allows you to search your computer or app for a file or setting. The great thing
about the updated search function is that the Search is context aware which
means it will display different results according to what apps you are currently
using. The Share charm allows you to send information from one app to another
with formatting. The Devices charm allows you to access any Devices currently
connected to the computer such as a printer. The Settings charm allows you to
access the Windows settings as well as settings for individual apps. If you are
in an app, using the Setting charm will take you to the Settings for that app.
It can be confusing as first having some settings located in the app and some in
the Settings Charm but the user gets used to it quickly. The last charm is the
Start Charm which features the new Windows logo. The Start charm takes you back
to the start screen that you enter when you first arrive in Windows.
Another new tool for quick navigation is the Switcher. The Switcher essentially acts
much like Alt-Tab does to switch between applications. However, as not all your
applications are located on your desktop in Windows 8, the Switcher allows you
to quickly switch from, say, your Desktop to the Mail App and then to Sky Drive
and back to Desktop. Alt-Tab will just switch between applications open on your
Our next blog will talk about the new kinds of Windows 8 apps and the radical gamble
Microsoft has taken.