Microsoft took the first steps in segmenting their future software across devices with the launch of Windows 8 last week.
The landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years. People today want mobility, hence the explosion of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. It is a market that Microsoft does not want to lose out on, but to date has failed to make significant inroads.
Microsoft’s latest operating system is quite a radical change from what users were accustomed to in the past.
It is bright, less intimating and it actually looks quite cool and appealing.
This is where the challenge begins. For first time users, it will probably be relatively easy. But for those who have used Windows for years, an open minded approach with patience is required initially.
It almost feels like someone has got into your bedroom and shifted everything around and rearranged your wardrobe. Your shoes are in a different place, your shirts are packed in a different order and your jewellery has been neatly packed away. This time though, you find everything much easier, you are able to get dressed quicker because your clothes are placed in a way that makes dressing up for any occasion seamless. And you always find an umbrella when you need one.
I say this, because during the first two weeks of using Windows 8 Consumer Preview (the test version of the software) I was really frustrated. The menus were different and navigating around felt awkward.
And then out of the blue, you get that aha or eureka moment, where you just get how it works. Only then do you release how cool and sexy the Microsoft’s latest operating system is. But you have to put some effort into learning the tricks around it.
If you can get around these basic steps and get acquainted with Windows 8, you will be in control of the basic functionality in no time at all.
- Moving your mouse button or finger to the top right or bottom right hand corners brings up the charm bar. This will bring up the 5 key icons. The first one is a search icon that lets you search for anything on your device as well as on the app store. Below that is the share button which lets you instantly share information like a website with friends via email or on social networks. The third icon is the start button which takes you back to the opening page of Windows 8. Next is the devices button if you need to connect to another screen. Right at the bottom of the charm bar one finds the settings button which gives you access to all the basic functionality of your computer. Things like connecting to a wireless network or shutting down are found there.
- If you move your mouse or drag your finger to the top left hand corner, the current running applications are displayed and you can switch between applications very similar to the old alt + tab command in previous versions of Windows.
- The third gesture is shutting an app down. You simply hold your mouse or finger in the top middle part of the screen and pull down towards the middle. Almost like pulling a blind down.
- Access to each tile is done by holding your finger over the tile and gently pushing upwards to reveal the settings tab or downwards to release the settings tab. If you are using a mouse or a keypad use the right button to do this.
Once set up, Windows 8 is slick, quick and easy. The Metro interface features live tiles that are updated with information related to the app. Your address book for example will show the updates that were posted from your friends on social networks like Twitter and Facebook or when you receive an email.
The coolest feature is the Windows 8 picture password. Simply choose a familiar picture, set a few places on the picture that you will remember the sequence of your gestures and that is your new password to login.
Windows 8 is available in two versions, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Users who purchased a PC with Windows 7 between June 2, 2012, and January 31, 2013 will be eligible to download Windows 8 Pro for around R130.00 (exchange rate dependent) with the Windows Upgrade Offer, available at www.windowsupgradeoffer.com.
Windows 8 is impressive; there is no doubt about that. It is a bold move by Microsoft in cementing how users use the Windows platforms. The pieces of the puzzle are fitting together for Microsoft. From using an Xbox to a PC, a laptop or a tablet and then onto a Windows Phone 8, the interface using Windows 8 is familiar across all hardware.