6 Things You Need To Know About Windows 8

I noticed that I have not written about Microsoft’s new Windows 8 Operating System since it was released.

See Also : Asus Malaysia “Explore Windows 8 & Win” Give-away

See Also : Windows 8 Teaser

Firstly, check out the video on a quick overview of Windows 8…


Here’s 6 things you need to know about Windows 8 OS on your desktop or Windows tablet

1. Start Menu is tile-based user interface

Windows 8 Start menu
Windows 8 Start menu

Windows 8 is basically the new Operating System from Microsoft that’s redesigned to be touch friendly. It carries the same look and feel and navigation across your desktop, tablet and mobile experience.

Note : Previously, the tile based user interface was known as the Metro UI. After Microsoft got into some copyright disputes on the name “Metro”, they’re now calling it simply “Modern” UI.

On the desktop though, even without touchscreen navigation option, you can still use a mouse/trackpad, but you get the same side swipe layout as you would on a mobile. For some swipes and gestures, all the latest laptops include multi-touch function to allow your swipes and gesture actions easier on the new Windows 8 OS.

Windows 8 Store
Free / Paid Modern UI apps in Windows 8 Store

The tiles on the Start screen also serves as a notification like on Windows Phone 8 mobile OS. There’s a Windows Store where you can browse for paid / free Modern UI apps. Just like on your Windows Phone 8 smartphones.


2. Side swipe/scroll in Windows 8 Modern apps

Windows 8 People app
“People” app consolidates your Social Media connections & updates

Using the “People” app as an example, which is pre-installed on the Windows 8 OS, you have a consolidated address book with linked contact info, notification messages and a “What’s New” highlight of what your contacts have been up to – with info pulled from your connected social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Just like with your Windows Phone 8 experience.

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3. Sync everything with Microsoft ID

Windows Settings - User Profiles
Sync with Microsoft ID

You sync everything with your Microsoft ID (eg, Outlook.com. Hotmail, Microsoft, etc) at setup, but can also work in offline mode. Tying everything to your Microsoft ID works best as it not only syncs your contact and app info, it also syncs your personalisation settings.


4. There’s still a “Desktop” interface

Desktop mode on Windows 8
There’s still “Desktop mode”

If you came from the traditional Windows 7 Operating System, or even any Windows OS before, you’d likely prefer the traditional desktop mode with shortcut icons, windows for file folders and softwares. Fear not – coz it’s not gone from the new Windows 8 interface.

In the Start (tile based) menu, there’s a tile dedicated to “Desktop” which still launches the traditional Desktop mode that you’re familiar with. Here, you still have your shortcut icons and files, your windows based layout. Well, pretty much the same thing you’re used to.

The only difference is that the Start button is missing in Desktop mode, and tapping the “Windows” hardware key on your keyboard launches the tile based Start menu.

Don’t go panicking if you miss the Start button on the Desktop mode, in the taskbar in the bottom left! Because, with the latest Windows 8.1 OS upgrade, Windows has included the “Start” button back again. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t pop up with the traditional Start menu, but launches the tile based, Modern UI Start menu, instead.

Microsoft really want you to get used to the tile based navigation.


5. Windows 8 “Charms” are basically “Menu” options

Windows 8 Charms
Charms, charms, charms

So, whats a “Charm”?

Well, Windows 8 allows you to swipe in from the right side of the screen to reveal “Charms”,  which are basically a “Menu” option to access your settings, sharing and more. You can swipe to access “Charms” at any screen, be it in Start screen, in a Modern app or Desktop mode.


6. Best for Multi-tasking with “Snap”

Windows Snap
Owh… “Snap” on Windows 8

OK. Crazy Chinese girl doing a bad “Ghetto Fabulous” impression with the caption here.

But seriously. One of the greater things that I love about Windows 8 is the ability to “Snap” apps side-by-side for multi-tasking. The gesture is a simple backwards “L” from the top of the screen to the centre, then to the left. The “snapped” app takes 1/3 of the left side of the screen, while the rest 2/3 of the screen can be used to open another app.

You can also easily drag the dividing line left or right to adjust the split window allocation between both apps.

This is, by far, one of my favourite feature on Windows 8, which allows me to keep my Twitter timeline running on one side of the screen, while I work on the other 2/3 side of the screen. Awesome!


More tips and tricks from Microsoft

It’s true that Windows 8 was built to be optimized for touchscreen use, but a lot of times people are running it on a non-touchscreen desktop or laptop. Would it ruin the experience or navigation? Not at all.

Windows Website

There are a few good shortcut keys you should learn immediately with Windows 8 on desktop/laptop like switching between open apps, Sharing, screenshots, and more.

Get familiar with Microsoft’s handy guide HERE for all the shortcut keys on Windows 8.

Microsoft appreciates that this is a new way of navigating the redesigned Windowss 8 OS, so they released a bunch of tutorial videos for various actions as well.

Everything you need to learn from tutorials for Windows 8 and Windows RT, from navigation using Touch or Mouse on their website HERE.

You can also check out their YouTube channel’s playlists for Touch HERE or Mouse navigation HERE.

For more information on Windows 8, make sure you check out Microsoft’s Windows website at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-my/windows/home


I pretty much got myself Windows 8 OS updated on my (then, non touchscreen laptop) when it was first available. I have now upgraded to a new laptop with Windows 8 pre-installed on a touchscreen Ultrabook. It took some getting used to, but I now really love it.

Do you have Windows 8 installed on your machines? Tell me what your favourite features / function is with the new Windows 8 OS?

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