Windows 8 – What’s New

Windows 8 Training GraphicSituation normal … we have just got used to Windows 7 … and Microsoft hit us with their latest operating system – Windows 8.

Yet again we find ourselves asking:

Is it very different?
Is it any better?
Should we upgrade to it?
How do we use it?

These questions and many more will be answered in our upcoming blogs, so return often so as not to miss out.

In this blog we will cover what is different with Windows 8.

NOTE: I warn you in advance … Windows 8 is the biggest change to the Windows Operating System since Windows ’95. It will even challenge the more experienced Windows users.

Anyway here goes.


First of all, the good news. Microsoft made claims that Windows 8 would be much faster to load and close down. In my experience that is exactly the case. Windows 8 IS much faster loading and closing and it also switches between apps quicker so it gets a big tick for speed.

General Look and Feel

This is where we find the greatest number of changes and whether they are for the better is still in debate. The idea behind the system is to make it compatible with a multitude of devices and ‘touch-centric’ functionality has been added. Sounds like a good idea at first but I feel it takes away from the normal point-and-click style we are all used to.

Lock Screen

Windows 8 starts up with a Lock Screen (shown below) which appears when you boot your PC and when your PC sleeps. The default Lock Screen has a background image with the time and date in the bottom-left corner and some useful apps that tell you about your Internet connection, your battery life etc. The screen is fully customisable and you can choose your own image and your own apps on view.

In my opinion, the Lock Screen is unnecessary on a PC or laptop although it may be handy on a tablet. A lot of users disable it and, I must admit, I am one of them.

Windows 8 Lock Screen

Start Screen

Once you log in to your PC you will be confronted by the Start Screen (shown below). It is designed mainly for the mobile device and touch-screen display market and is not getting many rave reviews from PC and Laptop users.

First of all you should notice there is no Start button on view and that the screen is full of tiles. These tiles give you access to applications that you start by clicking on the individual tile. It is a real shame that the majority of these applications are cut down versions of the real thing.

One great thing about this screen, though, is that you can open the search function by just starting to type anywhere on the screen. Very handy but not enough to justify its existence.

Windows 8 Start Screen

Charms Bar

The Charms Bar (shown below) is a contextual five-option menu dependent upon your currently viewed screen.

It can be accessed anywhere in Windows 8 by:

  • pointing your mouse at the top or bottom of the screen on the right-hand side
  • pressing the Win+C keys together

The five menu items are:

  • Search:

    Brings up a search box for Apps, Settings, Files etc.

  • Share:

    Allows you to share what you are viewing on screen with friends via email.

  • Start:

    Takes you back to the Start screen.

  • Devices:

    Allows you to send your screen’s information to another device. This is limited to devices that are currently connected to your computer.

  • Settings:

    The most handy of the menu items. It gives access to a variety of settings, Control Panel, Personalisation, PC Info and Help. (This is where you can also switch off your PC (The Power Button)).

Windows 8 Charms Screen


I have now had Windows 8 installed for a month and find it difficult to recommend it to anyone. If you are a traditional point-and-click person, then this is probably not the operating system for you.

C’mon Microsoft, you can do better.

That is the end of our Windows 8 – What’s New masterclass.

Please use the comments box below to let us know what you think of our blogs.

Bob Thomson is an IT professional with over 20 years experience in the industry having worked as a Consultant, Director, Manager and Trainer. He has vast experience using Microsoft software packages as an individual and in businesses situations.

Bob Thomson
Owner / Managing Director
Real Options