The Windows 8 user interface, or UI for short, is remarkably different from the Windows 7 or previous versions of the operating system you might be used to. By default, the Start screen greets you as soon as you log on to your computer. Before you jump in and start clicking and scrolling, take a few moments to orient yourself to the new interface. Much like learning your way around a new city, navigating Windows 8 has a bit of a learning curve. You must figure out where to find the apps you need and which direction to go to get you where you want to be. Windows 8.1 adds some refinement to the Windows 8 Start screen, and we’ll note the differences when they’re important.
Working with the Start Screen
By default, the starting point any time you log on to your computer is the Windows 8 Start screen. The Start screen displays the most common app tiles—special icons representing installed apps, short for applications. You can also add tiles for desktop programs, such as Microsoft Word, or add shortcuts to web pages, contacts, and more. The Start screen is a jumping-off point for accessing apps, computer settings, and the traditional Windows desktop.
- Click to switch users or edit your account picture.
- App tiles appear as square or rectangular boxes, sometimes showing live data (called Live Tiles).
- Use the scrollbar to navigate through the app tiles.
- Swipe from the right, or move the mouse to the upper-right or lower-right corner of the screen to display the Charms bar.
Opening the Charms bar also displays the current date, time, network, and battery/AC power status.
Move the mouse pointer to the bottom-left corner to display the Start button. Click it to switch to toggle between the active app and the Start screen.