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Navigating in Desktop

Click the Desktop live tile to suspend the Metro interface and enter what Microsoft terms the “Desktop” interface. This is the more traditional Windows 7-style interface from which we can run non-Metro apps (including-ahem-Adobe Flash applications).

Figure 9

Figure 9 The Desktop tile

Once you are in Desktop mode, hover your mouse in the lower-left part of the screen (do not click). This part takes some getting used to, for sure. This action again invokes the Charms menu, from which we can access the following options:

  • Settings: Use to invoke the same Settings pane that we saw earlier in the Metro UI.
  • Devices: Use to manage hardware devices.
  • Share: Use to set up “Contracts” between apps that allow the apps to share information with each other.
  • Search: Use to find files on the local system.
Figure 10

Figure 10 Windows 8 Desktop interface

You might have noticed that if you actually clicked the Windows icon in Desktop mode, Windows 8 transported you instantly back into the Metro environment. To be sure, some of the Metro tiles represent Desktop apps and will again jettison you to the Desktop when you click them (try this with any of the developer tools that Microsoft included in the Windows 8 Developer Preview).

You can use the Windows key to quickly open the most common traditional Windows applications (the keyboard shortcuts work regardless of whether you are in Metro or Desktop mode):

  • Windows key: Toggle between Metro and Desktop mode
  • Windows key + F: Search
  • Windows key + E: Windows Explorer
  • Windows key + R: Run prompt
  • Windows key + C: Charms menu
  • Alt + Tab: Cycle amongst open apps

Conclusion

One thing that we need to keep in mind is that the Developer Preview edition of Windows 8 is just that: a developer preview edition that is intended for aspiring Metro app developers to have a sandbox in which to learn.

Thus, we can absolutely expect the user environment to change, perhaps significantly, over upcoming months. Regardless, I hope that this brief article has efficiently provided you with the information you need in order to navigate Windows 8 Developer Preview with a keyboard and mouse. Thanks for reading.

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