Windows 8 is out and it has already been installed on thousands of computers around the world. If you’re one of the early adopters of Windows 8, then you’re probably wondering how to use your new operating system to its full potential.
Today, we’re going to help you enhance the Windows 8 experience by highlighting the basics of Microsoft’s new operating system:
How to get Windows 8
If you haven’t already got Windows 8, then Microsoft has made it easy. You can purchase Windows 8 tablets from your local Best Buy or any electronics store. The Microsoft Surface, meanwhile, can be purchased from the official Microsoft website.
If you just want the Windows 8 software, then you can do that too. Anyone who purchased a Windows 7 PC after June 2 can upgrade to Windows 8 for $15, and if you’re running any version of Windows after Windows XP, you can upgrade to the new OS for $40. The operating system has low system requirements, so most PCs sold over the last 7 years should be able to run it without issue.
Using the Windows Store
Just like when you get a new phone, one of the first places you’ll want to stop in Windows 8 is the Windows Store. Microsoft’s flagship app store might not be as rich and detailed as its more experienced counterparts from Google and Apple, but it still offers a range of useful apps. Here are some highlights that you might want to check out:
-New York Times
Unfortunately, the biggest story of the Windows Store thus far is that it’s missing some important apps. The Windows Store does not yet have official apps from Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Dropbox, or Pandora. So don’t spend too much time looking for those apps.
Choose which default browser you want to use
Microsoft wants Windows 8 to usher in Internet Explorer 10. Internet Explorer 10 is getting good early reviews, and it appears to be faster than both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Obviously, many people will still shy away from the Internet Explorer brand, so it’s up to you whether you want to use Chrome, Firefox, or IE.
Both Chrome and Firefox can be downloaded from their official websites. If you set Chrome or Firefox as your default browser (just run it once and wait for the pop-up window to appear), then Windows 8 will automatically include a link in the ‘Modern UI’ (also known as Metro). In other words, you’re not forced to use Internet Explorer if you don’t want to, and Microsoft won’t punish you for it.
Learn to use right click and other UI shortcuts
The biggest issue facing early adopters of Windows 8 involves relearning a new interface from the ground-up. Windows 8 is a massive departure from the older Windows operating systems, and that means those who have been using Windows since 95 are in for a big change.
One of the biggest tips we can give you when navigating this steep learning curve is to learn how to use and love the right-click button. Pressing right-click brings up a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. This menu bar includes program and app-specific settings as well as a link to system settings.
You can also access settings by going to the Charms Bar on the right-hand side of the screen. Look for the ‘settings cog’ icon on the Charms bar and click that to change around important system settings.
Hook up peripherals
If you ever tried to connect a wireless printer to Windows XP, then you know how painful that process could be. Sometimes, the process completed smoothly. In other cases, it involved the manual installation of a complex series of drivers as well as hours of frustrating effort.
Fortunately, Microsoft felt that pain and channeled it into a decent periphery management system in Windows 7. That system has been improved even more in Windows 8, and Microsoft claims the operating system will work seamlessly with all PC accessories (420 million in total). So far, reviews of this feature seem to be positive, so Microsoft isn’t just tooting its own horn here.
Don’t want to upgrade? Don’t worry!
Microsoft might be pushing Windows 8 hard, but it certainly isn’t forcing users to make the upgrade. If you’d rather stick with Windows 7, then you can do that until 2020, which is when Microsoft will stop updating Windows 7 with security updates. However, Microsoft will stop keeping Windows XP secure in early 2014, so if you’re still stuck with Windows XP, then you should consider making the upgrade to Windows 8.