On Day 1, I provided a look at the installation of Windows 8; in this post, I'm going to take a look at the Windows 8 User Interface.
Day 2: Starting to Explore the Windows 8 UI
Windows 8 includes two distinctive elements to its interface. The first (shown in the figure in yesterday’s blog entry) is a tiled interface that is, among other things, the replacement for the Start button. This interface used to be referred to as Metro, and that name is still prevalent in many of the Windows 8 web resources; however, Microsoft has officially renamed the interface Windows 8 UI (catchy, right?). Each tile in the interface represents a different application, and many of the tiles/applications (e.g., the mail, weather, and contacts applications) are regularly updated to reflect current information. I've noticed that this interface appears to cause a significant amount of disk activity, so disk reliability could eventually be an issue with the OS. There are not a lot of applications available that take advantage of this interface (only about 300 so far); however, one should expect the Windows 8 ecosystem to start to fill out the application portfolio over the first few months after product introduction. Like the Apple and Android ecosystems, Windows 8 includes a store that can be used to search for free as well as commercial applications for the Windows 8 UI interface:
By the way, you might have noticed the Updates link in the upper right-hand corner of the interface. The Updates link works in pretty much the same way as update functions in other OSs (e.g., Android) in that it provides a list of installed applications for which updates are available and provides an opportunity to update those applications:
There are a number of navigation characteristics of the Windows 8 UI to be aware of:
- Dismissing applications. For touch screens, touch your finger to the upper frame of the window and drag the window to the bottom of the screen. For mouse pointers, position the pointer in the upper frame of the window until the pointer turns into an open hand, then click and drag the application to the bottom of the screen to dismiss it. (Note that ALT + F4 will also dismiss the application.)
- Minimize Applications. Applications in the Windows 8 UI are intended to run full-screen. As such, there's no clear-cut way to minimize applications; however, there are several actions external to the application that will, in effect, cause the application to be minimized. The first is to position the mouse pointer (or your finger, for touch screens) on the lower left-hand corner of the screen to display a Start screen icon. Selecting the Start screen icon will re-display the Windows 8 UI. Another way to minimize applications is to grab the top of the application (as discussed in dismissing applications) and then drag the application either to the left- or right-hand side of the display. You'll notice that the application is displayed on the side that it was dragged to and the remainder of the UI is blank:
Clicking in the open area will re-display the Windows 8 UI, and the application will no longer be displayed. This second approach appears to allow you to have two applications displayed at the same time within the Windows 8 UI. If a second application is minimized in the same fashion as the first, then both applications can be displayed and the size of each window is determined by dragging the border indicated by the three vertical dots on the frame border.
When applications are minimized, they can be brought back to the forefront of the display by positioning the mouse pointer in the upper right-hand corner of the display, which will show an icon representation of the minimized application. Selecting the icon will re-display the minimized application(s).
The last Windows 8 UI item I’m going to cover is how to access functions such as common settings, devices, share, and search. Positioning the mouse pointer on the lower right-hand corner of the display will pop-up a short-cut of sorts:
Working from the bottom up, the first icon is for settings, the second is for devices, the third is to re-display the start menu (i.e., the Windows 8 UI), the fourth is for working with devices, and the fifth is for working with the search function. The settings icon provides access to a number of items, including network, sound, screen brightness, notifications, power, and keyboard:
You can shut down the system by selecting the Power icon and then selecting shutdown. (I mention this because, frankly, figuring out how to shut down Windows 8 wasn’t an easy proposition.) One thing to note is that this menu of functions is available in both the Windows 8 UI as well as the desktop.
Join me tomorrow for Day 3, when I'll take a look at the Windows 8 Desktop.