Product Reviews

Intro: This is a quick first impression of Windows 8 after actually using it for a while.  This review attempts to combine my first impressions as well as show some features on how to use it for those who are getting started with it.  I hope this helps.  My first impression before having used it was very negative.  I thought the blocky icons were flat and ugly and I was really surprised by the new look and layout.  Once I learned that it was optimized for touch screens I was a little more forgiving of the layout but still think it looks ugly.  I also learned that it works fine on non-touch screen devices with a mouse and that there is a desktop view although somewhat limited.  So I was more impressed after starting to use it but quickly found some issues I did not like as well. 

TOC (Table of Contents)

1. Install

2. Look and Feel

3. Customize Icons (Change Icon Size, Move Icons, Add Icons, Remove Icons, etc.)

4. Desktop (Standard Windows Desktop)

5. Charms Menu and More Critique

6. Settings

7. The New Task Manager

8. Helpful Shortcuts


1. Install

Install was fairly simple and straight forward, even using the Custom option.  I installed it on Oracle Virtual Box. 

Install options: color scheme, Windows Acct login (I used my Windows Live Acct), etc.

2. Look and Feel

The main page (after some customization) looks similar to this.  Optimized for touch screen but mouse works just fine.  This is called the Metro look or style. 

This is essentially the Start Menu.  

3. Customize Icons (Change Icon Size, Move Icons, Add Icons, Remove Icons, etc.)

Change Icon Size: Right-Click icon and Select Smaller or Larger.  Some icons seem to only have one icon size (small) (see Pic 1).
Move Icons: Just drag and drop to rearrange. 
Add Icons: Right-Click icon or blank area and select All Apps in lower right corner (see Pic 2); Right-Click new icon and select Pin to Start (see Pic 3); scroll right to see other apps (see Pics 4, 5).
Remove Icons: Right-Click icon and select Unpin from Start (see Pic 1).
Other Options: Right-Click icon and see other options depending on the app (see Pic 6).

Pic 1 - Right-Click Icon Options (Resize, Unpin, etc.)

Pic 2 - Right-Click to Show All Apps

Pic 3 - All Apps - Pin to Start to Add App to the Start Page

Pic 4 - All Apps - Standard Apps

Pic 5 - All Apps - Other Apps

Pic 6 - All Apps - Right Click to see Other Options for Apps

4. Desktop (Standard Windows Desktop)

To see a familiar desktop, just select the desktop icon. 


Familiar features are noted, Desktop icons including the Recycle Bin, Task Bar and System icons.  The main item that will not be found is the Start Button.  This is huge since if there are no shortcuts to apps, there is no way to access them.  Shortcuts can be added from Windows Explorer but this is cumbersome.  It only makes sense that Microsoft is trying to force everyone off the standard desktop/start menu method, but it seems too drastic of a change.  I think it would have been better to give both options this first time around and then phase out the desktop later maybe.  I think the lack of a Start Menu was a huge mistake.  Why tease users with a desktop that they cannot use.  Give it all or don't have the desktop at all. 

5. Charms Menu and More Critique:

I was trying different apps to see how they looked and often did not know how to get back to the previous screen.  The calendar for example, I did not want to "try again" and just wanted to get back to the Start menu but there was no obvious option for that.  There was no Esc (Escape), back button, cancel, etc.  What a pain.  I had to get to the Start Menu using the corner selection areas (Charm Bar).  Shortcuts below would have been helpful but this was before I was aware of them.  

Each of the four corners will bring up one of two menu screens.  Just mouse to the corner to see the menu. 

The right side menu first looks like this until an item is selected.  This is called the Charms Bar

Once an item in the menu is selected it will darken like this.  This seems to be the only way to return to the Start Menu (see shortcuts below). 

The left side will start with a corner icon while other menu items will start to appear. 

Moving the mouse up to the middle should make the other menu items to appear.  It was difficult to get this to happen for some reason.  The exact position of the mouse seemed to make all the difference.  Much easier to use the Windows Tab shortcut.


From here, you can also close apps.  Right-click and select close. 

6. Settings

Use Settings from the Charms bar to change various settings.  


7. The New Task Manager

8. Helpful Shortcuts (Many old shortcuts but also some new ones, assumes a keyboard)

Alt F4 - This will close an app and return to the Start Menu.

Windows Key - This will also return to the Start Menu, and toggle back to desktop.

Windows Key C - Open Charms Menu (right side menu).

Windows Key R - Open a run command in the desktop view.

Alt Tab - Toggle through running apps.

Windows Tab - Open left menu, toggle through running apps.

Windows T - Toggle through running apps only running from the desktop.

Windows F - Find or Search.

Windows D - Desktop.

Windows M - Minimize to Desktop.

Windows L - Lock screen, back to login.

Windows Z - Show All Apps icon.

Windows X - Open list of programs and settings almost like the old Start button.

Windows F1 - Help and Support.