I took the plunge over the weekend and upgraded my home machine to Windows 8 (the version that was released to manufacturing). It is definitely a bit different not having a start menu. Once I got used to the fact of having a start screen instead, where I could arrange the icons based on how I work, I’ll probably be more productive. The biggest change in my behavior though is that I am now using the Windows key on my keyboard, something I have never really used that much before.
It has a myriad of uses in Windows 8. Here is a list of shortcut keys I have been working with (not all are new to Win8):
Switch input language and keyboard layout
Temporary Peek at Desktop
Windows Page Up
Move the Start Screen or Metro App to the left Monitor
Windows Page Down
Move the Start Screen or Metro App to the right Monitor
Snap app to right
Snap app to left
open the charms bar
Metro File Search
Cycle through Desktop Gadgets
Open the settings charm
Switch focus between metro apps (snapped and large)
Lock and/or switch users
Minimize all windows (desktop)
Lock Device Orientation (tablet)
Set focus to taskbar and cycle through running apps
Ease of access center
Cycle through notifications
Cycle through notification in reverse
App Bar (metro app)
There are a couple of things I really miss though. One is Live Mesh. It is all bundled into SkyDrive, and that doesn’t have quite the same the granularity of decided what ends up on the cloud and what remains in your environment.
I use Synergy to share my mouse and keyboard between machines. Now that the side of the screen actually means something (Charms bar), I am not sure if I can use it in the same way, since with Synergy once I reach the side of the screen, I am on another computer’s screen. Windows C will bring up the Charms bar, and that capability is something you will use all the time.
The move to Windows 8 will be more frustrating to the technical support folks than to the casual user, since I am still having trouble finding all the settings and properties that I was used to change. The install (a fresh one where I cleaned off the drive) did find ALL of my drivers for my HP machine without me having to do anything special. Since I am a ham radio operator I have a few strange ones that I was shocked it found. I did have to set the driver for my network connected HP printer to Windows 7 compatibility mode for it to recognize the operating system as OK.
On the plus side IE 10 has numerous features that it has been missing when compared to other browsers (e.g. field spell checking, Do not track) and so far I’ve been very happy with it.
The one other things that took me a bit of time to figure out is the Windows 8 file backup system. The days of Windows backup are gone and now File History has taken over. I have it running, but have not validated its workings yet.
Those are a few thoughts in my first 24 hours on Windows 8.