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Windows 8 Platform Preview Navigation Tips and Tricks

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  1. Windows 8 Platform Preview Navigation Tips and Tricks
  2. Navigating in Metro
  3. Navigating in Desktop
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Microsoft is designing Windows 8 to be equally comfortable to navigate by using either touch gestures or the traditional mouse and keyboard. However, most of us who are evaluating the current Developer Preview edition of Windows 8 are limited to the latter method. IT expert and author Tim Warner shares the most common Windows 8 navigation shortcuts to get you up to speed as quickly as possible.

If you were fortunate enough to attend the Microsoft BUILD event in September 2011, then you received a Toshiba tablet with an early version of Windows 8 preinstalled. Therefore, you folks can test Windows 8 in all of its touch-centric glory.

That said, those of us who simply downloaded the Developer Preview edition of the software and installed it either in a physical or virtual machine were left with traditional keyboard and mouse-based navigation.

This ordinarily would not be a problem; after all, we have been mousing and keyboarding in Windows for years, right?

Wrong. Even though I’ve used Microsoft Windows since version 1.0, I quickly found myself flummoxed, floundering around in the new Metro user interface with nary a clue as how to perform the simplest of actions.

At this point, the Windows 8 Developer Preview software has been “in the wild” long enough such that there exist a plethora of tutorial websites that provide you with exhaustive unordered lists of all available keyboard and mouse shortcuts.

In this article, I will take a different approach. I will provide you with the most common keyboard and mouse gestures to accomplish the most common navigation tasks in Windows 8 Developer Preview. It is my hope that you can have a decent Windows 8 navigation experience within minutes of reading this article.

Without any further ado, let’s get started.

Logging On, Shutting Down

When you boot up Windows 8 Developer Preview, you are faced with what Microsoft calls the Windows 8 Lock Screen (shown in Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 Windows 8 lock screen

To log on to Windows 8, you can either click and drag your mouse from the bottom of the screen to the top (simulating a touch gesture), or double-left-click anywhere on the lock screen. Keyboard-based users can also press Enter.

The Metro Start screen is Microsoft’s latest envisioning of the Start menu. Personally, I love the “live tiles” idea very much. The notion is that instead of flat icons, we have dual-sized tiles to represent Metro apps. The app tiles themselves present useful information themselves to the user. As you can see in Figure 2, for instance, the Weather app gives me current weather conditions before I even start that app.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Windows 8 Live tiles

To log off or restart the computer from Metro, click your username or picture in the upper-right of the screen (this is what Microsoft calls the “user tile”) and select the appropriate option from the menu.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Windows 8 user tile

Another method for accessing system restart options is from what Microsoft terms the “Charms” menu (see Figure 4). Hover your mouse in the lower-left of the screen and select Settings from the Charms menu.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Charms menu

From the Settings pane, you can click Power and then select either Shut Down or Restart from the pop-up menu (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 Windows 8 Settings pane

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