Windows 8 Start Screen is the new new interface from Microsoft, it was earlier known as Metro but Microsoft has refused to carry forward that name and calls it simply Windows 8. The same interface is now available in the Windows Phone and the tablet Microsoft Surface. This is the default for your machine when you start your Windows 8 powered machine. For all purposes when you hit Start on your machine either through the Windows button on your machine or through Start thumbnail at the bottom left corner you reach this screen which we call the Windows 8 Home Screen.
The icons that you see are known as Tiles and act as shortcut to the applications that are installed on your machine and in some cases they also display information live information as feeds from the internet. You can see the current Stock Quotes, Weather, and News in the screenshot.
Windows 8 also has a split personality, it retains the Desktop look and feel for those applications designed and set in the earlier Windows versions. Don’t panic if you don’t see the Start button, there are still many ways to access your applications apart from creating a shortcut on the Desktop itself. We will discuss the ways to search for your applications later in the article.
Moving Across the Windows 8 Start Screen
Moving your cursor to the right top hand corner and swiping it down shows you the five options of Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. This sidebar is known as Charms bar and can also be invoked by pressing Windows Key + C.
Search is equivalent of the Windows 7 search bar and is contextual, for example if you are in the Stock app or Map app and you bring up search, you will be able to search through the application. You can also invoke this by pressing Windows Key + Q.
Share allows you to share a file, a link, a web page with your friends or colleagues, it currently works only on the home screen tiles. Through share you can send an e-mail or post a link on your facebook page without having to go through facebook copying and pasting. You can also invoke this by pressing Windows Key + H.
Start takes you to the start screen from your current device. You can also invoke this by pressing Windows Key.
Devices shows you all the connected devices to your machines including cameras, printers, phones, USB key etc. You can also invoke this by pressing Windows Key + K.
Settings provides you the ability to customize your application or PC according to your requirements, like WiFi/Network, Volume, Screen, Notifications, Power, and Keyboard/Language. You can also choose the Change PC Settings along the bottom to open the Start screen’s mini-Control Panel. You can also invoke this by pressing Windows Key + I.
Moving across open applications:
Moving your mouse cursor to the left top corner and swiping it lower shows you thumbnail of the active applications, by hovering on the thumbnail you will be able to switch to that application. At the left bottom you can see Start thumbnail, clicking on which takes you to the Start screen.
ALT+TAB will also show you visually the open applications:
As you may have noticed there is no Start Button on the Desktop. How do you access your applications without Start. Well you have many options:
You can access them from Home Screen which you can access by pressing Windows Button or Going to Start from anywhere and then clicking on the Application that you want to launch:
Or by going to the Windows 8 Home Screen / Start Screen and start typing the name of the application that you want to access, so if you want to access Microsoft Word just go to the Home Screen and type Word and there you will see Microsoft Word and Word Pad listed under Apps and other options which may contain Word as a keyword.
Right click on the empty space on your Windows 8 Homescreen and from, a bar will appear at the bottom of the screen which will show you a link for all apps. When you click on this you will see a screen which lists all the apps on your machine. Including the ones that allows you to personalize, install, uninstall, network and troubleshoot your machine.
By clicking on All apps you can access all the applications installed on your machine.
If you move your cursor to the right you can see all the system related applications like Task Manager, Command Prompt, Control Panel etc.
To get back to the Windows 8 Home Screen just press the Windows button on your keyboard or hover your machine to the left bottom corner of the screen where you will see a shortcut to launch your Windows 8 Homescreen.
Split the Screen for Multi-Tasking:
If you are stuck on a video conference call and would rather do something else, there is a neat feature which lets you work on the app in part of the screen – while you work on another thing in the other part of the screen. To do this move your mouse cursor to the top of your screen, once the hand icon appears, drag the screen the application to the left or right of the screen and you will have a screen that looks like this. Both are active and you can work on any. You can resize the application window by moving the slider in between. To close the split screen simply drag the application up.
How to close an app from the Windows 8 Home Screen:
In Windows 8 Tile or Metro based applications, applications don’t use CPU even when they are open, but they use memory, if you keep opening the applications and don’t close them you may encounter performance issues which keep you from working effectively. Here are the two ways that you close an open app in Windows 8.
Select the app you want to close by pressing ALT+TAB
To close a app from the Home Screen point your mouse to the top of the page and wait for a hand icon to appear, then press the left click of the mouse and swipe the application to the bottom of the page and the app would be closed. In case of a touch enabled screen you can perform the same action by your hand. In the Desktop mode you close the application as was normal.
Another way of closing the app is by moving your cursor to the left top corner of your Home Screen where you can see the thumbnail of the open applications – from here hover on top of the application you want to close and right click – you will be given an option to close the application.
If you want to add remove applications to your Windows 8 Homescreen you can right click on any of the Live Tile on the screen. When you right click on the live tile you get options at the bottom of the screen – Unpin the tile, uninstall, and make it smaller. If you want to just make your live tile smaller you can click on the make it smaller icon and it becomes smaller – about half the size of your original tile. Once done you can click on the tile and move it around till you become comfortable with the location.
Clicking in uninstall will uninstall the app, and clicking on unpin will remove the live tile from the Home Screen or the Star Screen. There are native Windows 8 applications such as Store that cannot be uninstalled.