Protips for Windows 8 users "Living on the Desktop"

Quite a few of the most common complaints I've heard since the consumer preview dropped (and even before when the developer preview first was released) was how people were so upset that they would not be able to use the traditional desktop how they wanted to. This post is intended to clear up some confusions and misunderstandings (especially for those who have not even tried win8).

Barring some kind of change in the registry or group policy, you will not be able to 100% "live" in the traditional desktop. When you start your computer and login, you'll be faced with the start menu. If you plan to mostly be a desktop user, you do have some options here. You can click the Desktop app to immediately launch the desktop. You can also pin programs (not apps) like Word, Outlook, Chrome, etc. to the Start screen. When you click on those programs, the Desktop will launch first followed by the app.

With the start orb gone, your three main uses for the start orb are also gone. You will have to learn to perform those actions in a different manner, through Metro.

First, search. In the desktop, to perform a search you have several options. The easiest option is to do what you did in win7 - hit the winkey and start typing. You can also do this in win8. The big difference is that when you hit the windows key you will be thrown into Start and when you start typing you will perform the search. Another way to perform a search is to press winkey+F to launch a file search.

Second, launching apps. Similar to search, you can hit the winkey and then start typing the name of the app you want to launch. Another option is to press winkey+Q (which brings up the list of apps) or access search from the charm bar.

Third, power. To turn off or restart your computer, you will have to pull up the charms bar, hit settings, and click on the power button to choose what you want to do.

So, for those three main processes - you will have to interact with Metro. However, everything else will still work the same in Desktop mode as it did in windows 7. You can pin your favorite programs to the taskbar or create shortcuts for them on the desktop - avoiding the fact that you have to interact with metro to launch a frequently used app. In addition, features like Aero Snap still work - including their keyboard commands!

Finally, I'll leave you with two protips.

First: There is a very nifty power user's menu available in any app (Start, Mail, Desktop, etc.). Push your cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen (where the start orb used to be and the Start preview window appears). Do a right click. That will bring up nifty options like programs and features, command prompt, run, control panel, search, etc. For those rare times when you do have to access something in the start menu that you can't anymore and doesn't fall into those three categories above - there you go.

Second: If you have multiple monitors (more than one), the metro interface will only run on one monitor. Any additional screens you have will all show the traditional desktop. For those who complain about not being able to handle the new Metro interface...setup a second monitor. Run all your programs in the desktop, and you can use Metro for Metro apps.

Here is a screenshot (on imgur since its so massive) showing how both protips work. As you can see, I wrote this post in IE10 on the Metro side.