Windows 8: Something old, something awkward

Microsoft's old Windows desktop and tablet-friendly Metro UI make strange bedfellows

By Woody Leonhard, InfoWorld |  Windows

Covering all of Windows 8 A major challenge for the Windows 8 user is navigating between the old world and the new. Permit me to run through a handful of additional features -- and limitations -- that may not be obvious.

No doubt you've seen the Charms bar -- the pane on the right side, brought out by a swipe from the right edge or by hovering your mouse in the upper- or lower-right corners -- that includes icons marked Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings.

The Search charm works just about everywhere. To search for an email message, for example, go into the Mail app and click or tap the Search charm. If you're looking at the Metro Start screen or legacy desktop, and you go into Search, you see a complete list of all of the programs, er, apps on your computer. The apps are grouped using an algorithm that escapes me, but within each group the apps are listed alphabetically -- making it very hard to find an app unless you know its name. Typing in the search box doesn't help much; try typing "w" and you'll see what I mean.

The Share charm has a long way to go. You would think that Share would allow you to copy items between apps, but it doesn't. At this moment, People, Calendar, Messaging, Mail, SkyDrive, Camera, Music, Video, Finance, Weather, and any application on the legacy desktop all come up with a notice saying the app "can't share." Photos will "share" with Mail -- which means you can click on a photo, select Share, and have an email automatically created with the photo attached. That's the only Share combination I could find that works.

The Start charm cycles between the Metro Start screen and the legacy desktop. That's it.

The Devices charm doesn't do much just yet. The Settings charm leads to a severely restricted (but very pretty) set of Windows settings: volume, brightness, power. In case you were wondering, that's where you go to turn off your PC.

On the left side of the screen, you can see thumbnails of all running programs by clicking or touching in the upper-left corner, then dragging your finger or mouse down the side. If you have a Metro app or the Windows desktop running, you can click one of the thumbnails and drag it to the right. You'll then arrive at a split screen, with one app occupying 20% of the screen and the other occupying 80%.

You can split screens between two Metro apps, or one Metro app and the legacy desktop -- no other combinations allowed. (Split screen is officially called "Metro snap," no doubt to confuse Windows 7 users, who know full well what "snap" means.) There is no interaction between the two split applications; you can't drag anything from one side to the other. The only size adjustment is to put the small pane on the left or right.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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