Windows 8 Really Does Work on a Desktop or Laptop (video)

I think many tech enthusiasts are either in denial or simply uninformed about how quickly you can move through the various apps and UI elements in Windows 8.

Forming an opinion after you've only played around with Windows 8 for a few minutes is silly. It helps if you know what to do, of course, but also why it's done that way. Let's take a look.

What To Do

As The Verge and others have reported, Windows 8 on non-touch computers is all about the corners. Lower left for the Start screen, upper left for back, slide along the left for the app Switcher, slide along the right for the Charms menu.

There are also a number of keyboard shortcuts for navigation, such as Windows key + Z for the App bar, Windows key + C for charms, Windows key + Q to search All apps and a whole lot more. This versatility is something techies should welcome and shows Windows 8 has not been "dumbed down." (There's also Windows key + PrtScrn to save screenshots a la Cmd + shift + F3. Thank gog.)

Why Metro?

First, let's define "Metro" as the following: Metro style applications, the corner UIs, the Start screen, and the All apps screen--the last two replace the Start Menu and All Programs in Windows 7. That's it. Virtually everything else in the UI is familiar from Windows 7.

So why can't you turn Metro "off?" Well, because it works. The Start screen is much more customizable and extensible than the Start Menu. It displays more applications and more information via live tiles, and it preserves functionality like typing to search for applications. Microsoft detailed these points in two lengthy Windows 8 blog posts (the first, the second). Metro apps introduce desktop users to the light-weight, cloud connected apps and games that people love on their mobile devices. Not everyone has to use them but the vast majority of users will. This is the "no compromise" PC. This is MS moving toward a Continuous Client.

That said, there is room for improvement. For example, All apps displays more applications and provides a better search experience than All Programs, but it doesn't have a suitable replacement for folders (Try installing K-Lite Codec or any application that ships with a number of smaller utilities).

Bottom line: Using Windows 8 on a laptop or desktop is different, but if you know what to do (and optionally why) you'll not only get used to it, but you might actually find yourself being more productive than ever.