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Navigating 8

I’m sure that you’ve all either played with Windows 8 or at least seen the ads for it on TV.  This is the latest new shiny version of Windows, and really the first major overhaul to Windows since it was introduced thirty years ago.  As a matter of fact, this is the first version of Windows not to use… well… windows.  Instead, because of the burgeoning touch-screen market, this new version features the much more touch-friendly “tiles”.  As a matter of fact, for an old curmudgeon like me, who grew up with Windows, this version should be called “Tiles 1.0″.  For those who have been living under a rock and haven’t seen it, the new interface looks like this:

This interface is great for touch-screen devices.  As a matter of fact, it’s very similar to the Windows Mobile operating system that was introduced several years ago for Windows phones.  It has the same type of “tap and swipe” interactivity that we’ve all come to know and love (or, in some cases, know and loathe) on our portable devices.  One way to interact with this new version of Windows is to simply tap (or click) on an app to open it.  Another way to interact with the system is to summon a new feature of 8 called the “charms”, so named because they resemble the charms on a charm bracelet.  To summon the charms on a touch-screen device, you simply swipe from the right side of the screen to the left.  If, like me, you’re not quite ready to get all touchy-feely with your computer and still use a mouse, you simply move the cursor to the upper or lower right hand side of the screen and the charms will appear.  The charms menu, once summoned, looks like this:

This gives you access to such Windows classic features as SEARCH and SETTINGS among others.  Then you simply click on the charm that you wish to use.  

What Windows 8 doesn’t do spectacularly well, however, is work with a mouse.  And there ARE those of us out there who like our touch-screen phones and touch-screen tablets, but aren’t wild about the idea of a touch-screen computer.  I mean, I’m a freelance writer… have you ever tried to type anything longer than a short note on a touch screen, especially if you learned to type on a typewriter and then transitioned to a keyboard?  Heck, I have a hard time typing on netbooks because the keyboards are too small.  So, I have great news for those of you that, like me, aren’t ready for a touch-screen PC or laptop.  Search your Windows 8 tiles until you find one that says DESKTOP and click on it.  It should look something like this:

Once you do that, voila and presto-chango your screen changes from the new Windows 8 interface into this:

Better?  I think so too.

I hope that this helps.

Randal Schaffer