Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Technology review: Windows 8

By David Chen  /  Staff reporter

The same holds when you install third-party apps. Say you download Evernote, the popular note-taking app that stores notes and memos online, from a browser on the traditional desktop. You’ll also find that there’s a separate version available for the Metro part of Windows 8, which you must download separately through the Microsoft Marketplace app.

The programs connect to the same online service, yet function separately, which is a recipe for confusion.

On another note, the pickings are relatively slim at the moment on Microsoft’s Marketplace when it comes to Windows 8 apps. Despite the fanfare-filled launch, the Marketplace lacks apps for two big services, Facebook and Dropbox.

MOVING ON

Windows 8 will not be a walk in the park if you’re happy with the older versions of Windows, but it’s not the end of the world if you’re willing to learn a few new tricks (See Windows 8 Basic Primer, below). The Metro layout, which again caters best to tablets and touchscreen devices, is clearly Microsoft’s new vision for Windows, like it or not. If you’re ready for something new, then Windows 8 offers a step toward that future.

And there are some nice features that naturally come with an OS upgrade. For example, if your computer is acting buggy, Windows 8 allows you to “refresh” it, essentially uninstalling programs without losing your files and resetting your computer back to a clean state. I also liked how it’s now easy to switch between languages, and had little problems switching the interface languages between Traditional Chinese and English.

Should you upgrade? If you have a computer with Windows 7, and you’re happy with it, there’s no urgent need. Microsoft offers “mainstream” support for Windows 7, which basically means major software updates and security patches, until 2015. But if you want to take the plunge, prices are cheaper than they’ve ever been for Windows: NT$1,299 for Windows 8 Pro downloaded online (NT$2,199 for a DVD copy) and NT$439 to upgrade from Windows 7.

WINDOWS 8 BASIC PRIMER

Here are some basic tips for getting around Windows 8 on a PC or laptop.

‧ Get to know the Windows key

If you never used the Windows key (the key with the Windows symbol), you’ll find it very useful on Windows 8. If you’re in an app, press the Start Key to go back. If you’re on the Start screen already, it will take you back to the previous app you had open.

‧ Switching to the traditional desktop

If the modern look of Windows 8’s Metro desktop is not for you, you can easily go back to the traditional desktop. Click on the “Desktop” tile, which should be visible on the Start Screen by default. Or press Start Key+D. You can also switch back and forth between the two desktops by pointing the mouse cursor at the bottom left of the screen and clicking on the miniature pop-up screen that appears.

‧ Get to know Window 8’s “Charms”

“Charms” are sort of the command center of Windows 8, and you can access them anywhere. There are five charms, and the ones you’ll probably use the most are “Start,” which simply takes you back to the Start page, and Settings, which allow you to find a WiFi signal and power down or restart your computer. To make Charms appear, point the mouse to the top or bottom right corner, then select what you want to do. Scrolling over the Charms bar will also make a clock appear.

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