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As you will see in this guide Windows 8 is quite different from previous versions of Windows

 

For starters it has a new user interface, which replaces the start menu that you are used to seeing in previous versions with a new start screen

 

A lot of work has also gone in to making this version of Windows tablet and touchscreen friendly - meaning you can easily navigate applications and use the computer with just your finger - in the same way you control a touchscreen phone or iPad tablet

 

Below you can see a quick overview of the major changes, and the following sections will guide you through all the features of Windows 8 and how to use it

 

User Interface

 

The main change in Windows 8 is the new user interface - gone is the start menu from previous versions of Windows, to be replaced with a new start screen

 

This is the screen you will see when first logging on to your computer and is designed to replace in most cases the standard desktop view we are currently used to

 

It contains tiles showing all your applications which can easily be navigated with a mouse (or on a touchscreen), and each tile shows information about the application, for example the Photos application cycles through your pictures and the Calendar app shows diary events for the day

 

startmenu_overview_win8

 

From here you can still switch to the "old" desktop view you are used to seeing/using in current versions of Windows, by clicking the Desktop tile

 

In the desktop view (shown below) you will also see a redesigned File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer) which now makes use of the ribbon interface like most other Microsoft applications

 

In this mode you will also see the new start button in the taskbar, clicking this icon or pressing the Start button key on your keyboard will now show the new redesigned start screen (as shown above)

 

desktop_overview_win8

 

These changes have been made because the new version of Windows is designed to be very touchscreen friendly, to support the popularity of tablets and touchscreen computers

 

Windows Store "Modern" Apps

 

Most of the included programs (and new programs designed for Windows 8) will make use of this new user interface, and will display full screen rather than in windows which could be re-sized, moved etc like you are used to in previous versions of Windows

 

The images below show you the new Mail and Photo applications - which you can see have been simplified and redesigned to make full use of the screen and to be suitable for using on touchscreen devices

 

mail_overview_win8

 

photo_overview_win8

 

There are also several new applications included such as News, Weather, Sport, Finance and Travel which contain constantly updated information shown in an easily viewable format

 

You can scroll across to get more information and click on items to access detailed stories, forecasts, news etc

 

weather_overview_win8

 

news_overview_win8

 

Login Screen / Lock Screen

 

Once Windows 8 has booted you are presented with the new lock screen which you can double click (or swipe up if using a tablet) to reveal the login screen

 

lockscreen_win8

 

loginscreen_overview_win8

 

Settings

 

A completely new layout for accessing and changing Windows settings - which replaces (although it is still available for power users) the Control Panel

 

settings_overview_win8

 

Internet Explorer 11

 

The new version of Internet Explorer has been changed quite considerably to fit in with the new user interface in Windows 8

 

It has a more streamlined look, with the most commonly used options now appearing at the bottom of the screen, and sliding out of the way when not being used so you get much more space to view the current web page

 

ie11_overview_win8

 

App Store

 

Windows 8 includes a new App Store, like you get with an Apple or Android device - this will allow you to easily add free or paid applications to Windows 8 to provide additional functionality

 

appstore_overview_win8

 

Task Manager

 

This has been completely redesigned in Windows 8 to show a lot more information, as well as giving you easy access to changing startup items and viewing performance information

 

taskmanager_overview_win8