Windows 8 is here and it is a big interface change! The next computer that you buy will probably have it installed (that is unless you are going to or staying with Mac). It is essential that you get to know Windows 8 a little first if you want your user experience to be a good one! Invest a little time learning the new interface before you turn on your new computer and you won't be COMPLETELY LOST when you do!
Here's the new start screen as we can see from the windows website:
Yes windows 8 is designed to work both as a tablet (touch) interface (shown above) and as a desktop interface. What you see above is the windows start screen and the square and rectangular tiles that represent the different apps that you can launch. This new windows interface (sometimes called the 'metro' interface) is radically different from previous windows versions... however if you've used a smartphone (who hasn't) it really isn't all that foreign! We will just call it a 'modern' interface for windows.
Now I personally don't have windows 8 yet (I will update my computer very soon, I hope!) so I'm sharing my observations from an outside perspective at the moment!
From what I have seen and read, I do LIKE the new interface. Also, there is a more traditional desktop view that many people will fall back to (and apps that aren't updated to the new windows interface will fall back to this traditional desktop view). If you are working on windows 8 on a desktop computer for the first time, prepare to be confused, just a little, UNTIL you learn a handful of new (and ESSENTIAL) tips to navigate in a new world!
The corners of the screen are important. Move your mouse to the top left and you can switch between your opened apps. Bottom left corner will let you jump back to the start screen whenever you are in a running app. Another way to toggle between the new start screen and the traditional desktop view is by tapping the Windows key (a great little shortcut to learn).
In Windows 8, you if head over to the top right corner and from there move the mouse downward you will reveal the 'charms bar.' (Windows Key + C is also shortcut to this bar). This is where you can search, share, or work with devices and settings. If you click on search and look in the apps category, this is where you will see ALL the apps installed on your computer.
In earlier versions, we had a start button that would show us everything (you will notice we no longer have a 'start button'). However, one very neat trick that would be hidden unless somebody tells you is... just start typing while on the start screen to start a search for one of your apps. Type "word" for instance to find Microsoft Word or WordPad. From there you can right click it and add (or pin) it to your main start screen for easier future clicking.
Windows 8 is really very cool in my opinion. My concern is that Microsoft is not doing enough to teach new users how to use it and most of the tools would otherwise seem hidden. This can really put off new users, especially non-techy ones. If you doubt it, watch a few minutes of this video for a new user frustrated with windows 8.
Lifehacker website has a great notes page on "How not to Get Lost in Windows 8". I highly recommend that you go there to check it out. Additionally, they created the short getting started video below:
Microsoft has created a how-to page full of topics and answers to questions that new users will have. My disappointment with Redmond is they make us read lots of text when they should have made nice instruction videos for all these things! Instead we have to go searching YouTube for help in starting off (bad decision by Microsoft team on getting a smooth transition!) I might just have to record some of my own training videos to help people out. Stay tuned, we'll see!
Bottom line is... for you to be happy in Windows 8 is make sure you do a little homework FIRST and your experience will be a much better one!!