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Windows 8 gets its official launch, brings 1,000 new PCs to the table
Microsoft has officially cut the red ribbon on Windows 8, with 1000 certified pieces of Windows 8 hardware going on sale at midnight.
The Windows 8 OS will be available on computers ranging from traditional desktop PCs to laptops and tablets.
As well as officially launching the OS, Windows head Steven Sinofsky took to the stage in New York to confirm the opening of the Windows Store, complete with "a wide range of apps".
"We know some might start to count apps – but we see today as a grand opening and developers are adding 100s of new apps every day," he explained, neatly side-stepping telling us exactly how many the app store has.
In a statement that sounds a bit like spin, Sinofsky would only say, "Today we have more apps than any competing app store had at its opening."
Also available at midnight tonight (local time) will be the Windows 8 upgrade for existing Windows 7 computers, which Microsoft promises will bring better battery life, faster boot times and smaller memory footprints to the older machines.
Employing a spot of Apple-style hyperbole, Sinofsky described Windows 8 as the "best release of Windows ever" before calling the new hardware some of "the best PCs ever".
Dashboard software and services: a business buyer's guide
In larger businesses the dashboard has become an essential business tool. Being able to show at a glance the key information that all business owners need to track has made these applications very popular. However with the advent of cloud technologies more and more dashboards applications are becoming available to the small and medium sized business.
The information you can expect to track via a dashboard can include the performance of your website. The cash flow through your business. The key performance indicators (KPIs) that you have defined for your company such as the movement of stock in and out of your business. The level of sales your business is making or perhaps the performance of specific marketing channels. Anything that you think is important can be measured and included on a dashboard.
Developing a dashboard approach to the management of your business has a number of advantages including:
- You can instantly see a snapshot of how well or not, your business is going.
- Specific KPIs such as profitability or breakeven point can be watched in detail.
- Problems can be spotted within your business early enough for you to take action.
- A dashboard can help you make sense and analyse masses of data such as that generated by your business' social media networks.
- Future business planning relies on understanding what has happened in the past. A dashboard can give your business that legacy information.
- 'What if' scenarios can be tested using a dashboard to help you efficiently manage the development of your business into the future.
As no two businesses are alike, so your business' dashboard will be unique. Juice Analytics, in their guide to business dashboards, said: "Dashboards can come in many flavours. What never changes is good dashboards focus on the most important information and communicates this information clearly and concisely. The delivery channel, level of interactivity, timeliness of data, and analytical capabilities will vary based on the situation."
When you are developing a dashboard for your business, think about these key components:
- Are you creating a dashboard or a report? A report will look at a specific part of your business, whereas a dashboard offers on-going insights as your company changes on a day-to-day basis.
- Have you developed all the KPIs you will need to populate your dashboard? A dashboard should answer specific questions, but you need to know what these are and create a KPI that can be used in your dashboard.
- What kind of information do you want your dashboard to display? You could view your business' data as charts, graphs, maps, website links or news feeds. What format would make it easier for you to understand the data being displayed on the dashboard?
- Can you change how the data you are seeing on your dashboard is presented? Sometimes certain types of data are best viewed as a chart or graph.
- Is the dashboard's user interface easy to understand? Your dashboard shouldn't be a drain on your time. It's supposed to help you run your business more efficiently.
- How secure is the dashboard you want to use? Many of the dashboard services are cloud based. Look closely at the security of these services. Remember, you are trusting them with highly sensitive information about your business.
Taking your time to think about what you want a dashboard to do for your business is time well spent, as you will be able to find the perfect dashboard platform to help you manage your business.
There are a number of dashboard tools to choose form. Some of the leading platforms include:
Understanding social data
Today another key aspect of running your business is how it uses social media networks. Because of the torrent of information that social networks can generate, a dashboard can be highly useful to give you insight into how social media is impacting on your business and market.
You can also use a dashboard that is focused on your business' social media activity to track the sentiment being directed at your company. The positive and negative comments about your business can be seen in real time via a dashboard to give you an insight into how your business, its brand, goods and services are being talked about across the social media channels.
There are a number of dashboard applications and services that can help your business make sense of the masses of information that flow into your enterprise on a daily basis from the social space:
Using a dashboard approach to monitoring and analysing the social media networks your business has a presence on can give you the insight you need to make social media work harder for your business. The phenomenon of data overload is a real and present danger with the arrival of social media. A dashboard can help you find the nuggets of information your business needs to ensure it remains a key business across the social media networks.
Is this the product manual for the Samsung Nexus 10?
A Korean website called Seeko posted two images of what appear to be an authentic-looking "Quick Start Guide" for a Samsung-created Nexus 10 tablet.
With a Google event planned for next Monday the company could be planning to unveil a 10-inch sequel to its popular Nexus 7 tablet - although the larger model presented in the leaked manual bears little resemblance to its sibling.
Judging from the leaked images, the Nexus 10 appears to have more in common with Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1, right down to the "bulging sides and a strip of plastic or metal at the top rather than a smooth back."
This isn't the first time a larger Nexus-branded tablet has popped up on the rumor radar: less than a week ago, The Next Web spilled the beans on a 10-inch tablet with the internal codename "Manta."
That 2560 x 1600 resolution tablet closely matches the one pictured in the Korean photos, which is said to have a 300ppi resolution that trumps even Apple's newest fourth-generation iPad.
Like the LG-built Nexus 4 smartphone, which also leaked Thursday morning, the Nexus 10 is rumored to be powered by Android 4.2, a new build which retains the Jelly Bean name rather than leaping ahead to the next confectionary-inspired letter of the alphabet.
TechRadar will be at both coast to coast events, so stay tuned for all the latest in the ever-expanding hardware market.
Updated: 50 Windows 8 tips, tricks and secrets
Windows 8 tips: Getting started
Windows 8 is finally here, and if you're used to previous versions of Windows then you're going to notice that quite a bit has changed. In fact, Windows has seen the biggest changes since the jump from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95.
Out goes the Start menu, in comes the new touch-oriented Start screen, new apps, new interface conventions - even experienced PC users may be left feeling a little lost.
- Windows 8 review
- Windows 7 vs Windows 8
- Windows 8 on ARM: Steven Sinofsky speaks
- Windows 8 tablets: what you need to know
- All our Windows 8 content
Don't despair, though, help is at hand. We've been investigating every part of Windows 8, uncovering many of its most important tips and tricks, so read our guide and you'll soon be equipped to get the most out of Microsoft's latest release.
1. Lock screen
Windows 8 opens on its lock screen, which looks pretty but unfortunately displays no clues about what to do next.
It's all very straightforward, though. Just tap the space bar, spin the mouse wheel or swipe upwards on a touch screen to reveal a regular login screen with the user name you created during installation. Enter your password to begin.
2. Basic navigation
Windows 8 launches with its new interface, all colourful tiles and touch-friendly apps. And if you're using a tablet then it'll all be very straightforward: just swipe left or right to scroll the screen, and tap any tile of interest.
On a regular desktop, though, you might alternatively spin the mouse wheel to scroll backwards and forwards.
And you can also use the keyboard. Press the Home or End keys to jump from one end of your Start screen to the other, for instance, then use the cursor keys to select a particular tile, tapping Enter to select it. Press the Windows key to return to the Start screen; right-click (or swipe down on) apps you don't need and select Unpin to remove them; and drag and drop the other tiles around to organise them as you like.
3. App groups
The Start screen apps are initially displayed in a fairly random order, but if you'd prefer a more organised life then it's easy to sort them into custom groups.
You might drag People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar over to the left-hand side, for instance, to form a separate 'People' group. Click the 'minus' icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to zoom out and you'll now find you can drag and drop the new group (or any of the others) around as a block.
Right-click within the block (while still zoomed out) and you'll also be able to give the group a name, which - if you go on to add another 20 or 30 apps to your Start screen - will make it much easier to find the tools you need.
4. Quick access menu
Right-click in the bottom left corner (or hold down the Windows key and press X) for a text-based menu that provides easy access to lots of useful applets and features: Device Manager, Control Panel, Explorer, the Search dialog and more.
5. Find your applications
The Win+X menu is useful, but no substitute for the old Start menu as it doesn't provide access to your applications. To find this, hold down the Windows key and press Q or either right-click an empty part of the Start screen or swipe your finger up from the bottom of the screen and select 'All Apps' to reveal a scrolling list of all your installed applications. Browse the various tiles to find what you need and click the relevant app to launch it.
6. Easy access
If there's an application you use all the time then you don't have to access it via the search system. Pin it to the Start screen and it'll be available at a click.
Start by typing part of the name of your application. To access Control Panel, for instance, type 'Control'. Right-click the 'Control Panel' tile on the Apps Search screen, and click 'Pin to Start'. If you're using a touchscreen, press and hold the icon, then flick down and select 'Pin to Start'.
Now press the Windows key, scroll to the right and you'll see the Control Panel tile at the far end. Drag and drop this over to the left somewhere if you'd like it more easily accessible, then click the tile to open the desktop along with the Control Panel window, and press the Windows key to return you to the Start screen when you're done.
7. Shutting down
To shut Windows 8 down, just move the mouse cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen, click the Settings icon - or just hold down the Windows key and press I - and you'll see a power button. Click this and choose 'Shut Down' or 'Restart'.
Some of the tricks available in previous versions of Windows still apply. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, for instance, click the power button in the bottom right-hand corner and you'll be presented with the same 'Shut Down' and 'Restart' options.
And if you're on the desktop, press Alt+F4 and you'll be able to choose 'Shut Down', 'Restart', 'Sign Out' or 'Switch User' options.
Windows 8 tips: mastering the interface
8. App bar
Windows 8 apps aim to be simpler than old-style Windows applets, which means it's goodbye to menus, complex toolbars, and many interface standards. There will usually be a few options available on the App bar, though, so if you're unsure what to do then either right-click an empty part of the screen, press Windows+Z or flick your finger up from the bottom of the screen to take a closer look.
9. What's running?
If you launch a Windows 8 app, play with it for a while, then press the Windows key you'll switch back to the Start screen. Your app will remaining running, but as there's no taskbar then you might be wondering how you'd ever find that out.
You could just press Alt+Tab, which shows you what's running just as it always has.
Holding down the Windows key and pressing Tab displays a pane on the left-hand side of the screen with your running apps. (To see this with the mouse, move your cursor to the top left corner of the screen, wait until the thumbnail of one app appears, then drag down.)
And of course you can always press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to see all your running apps in the Task Manager, if you don't mind (or actually need) the extra technical detail.
10. Closing an app
Windows 8 apps don't have close buttons, but this isn't the issue you might think. Apps are suspended when you switch to something else so they're only a very minimal drain on your system, and if you need the system resources then they'll automatically be shut down. (Their context will be saved, of course, so on relaunching they'll carry on where you left off.)
If you want to close down an app anyway, though, move the mouse cursor up to the top of the screen. When it turns from the regular mouse pointer to the icon of a hand, hold down the left mouse button and drag it down the screen. Your app should shrink to a thumbnail which you can drag off the screen to close it.
If that's too much hassle, then simply pressing Alt+F4 still works.
And when all else fails then press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task Manager, right-click something in the Apps list and select End Task. Beware, though, close something you shouldn't and it's easy to crash or lock up your PC.
11. Mastering Internet Explorer in Windows 8
Click the Internet Explorer tile from the Start menu and you'll launch a full-screen version without toolbars, menus or sidebars, which like so much of Windows 8 may leave you initially feeling lost.
Right-click an empty part of the page or flick your finger down from the top of the screen, though, and you'll find options to create and switch between tabs, as well as a Refresh button, a 'Find' tool and the ability to pin an Internet shortcut to the Start page. Click the spanner icon and select 'View on the desktop' to open the full desktop version of Internet Explorer.
12. Run two apps side by side
Windows 8 apps are what Microsoft calls "immersive" applications, which basically means they run full-screen - but there is a way to view two at once. Swipe from the left and the last app you were using will turn into a thumbnail; drop this and one app displays in a sidebar pane while your current app takes the rest of the screen. And you can then swap these by swiping again.
13. Spell check
Windows 8 apps all have spellcheck where relevant, which looks and works much as it does in Microsoft Office. Make a mistake and a wavy red line will appear below the offending word; tap or right-click this to see suggested alternative words, or add the word to your own dictionary if you prefer.
14. Run as Administrator
Some programs need you to run them with Administrator rights before they'll work properly. The old context menu isn't available for a pinned Start screen app, but right-click one, and if it's appropriate for this app then you'll see a Run As Administrator option.
15. Make a large app tile smaller
You'll notice that some Windows 8 apps have small live tiles, while others have larger tiles that take up the space of two tiles. Right-clicking on a Windows 8 app's Start screen tile will display a few relevant options. If this is one of the larger tiles, choosing 'Smaller' will cut it down to half the size, freeing up some valuable Start screen real estate.
16. Uninstall easily
If you want to hide an unused app for now, select 'Unpin from Start'. The tile will disappear, but if you change your mind then you can always add it again later. (Search for the app, right-click it, select 'Pin to Start'.)
Or, if you're sure you'll never want to use an app again, choose 'Uninstall' to remove it entirely.
17. Apps and privacy
It is worth keeping in mind that by default Windows 8 apps can use your name, location and account picture. If you're not happy with that, it's easily changed. Press Win+I, click More PC Settings, select Privacy and click the relevant buttons to disable any details you'd rather not share.
18. Administrative tools
Experienced Windows users who spend much of their time in one advanced applet or another are often a little annoyed to see their favourite tools buried by Windows 8. Microsoft has paid at least some attention, though, and there is a way to bring some of them back.
Open the Charm bar by flicking your finger from the right-hand side of the screen and select 'Settings' then 'Tiles'. Change 'Show administrative tools' to 'Yes' and click back on an empty part of the Start screen. And it's as simple as that. Scroll to the right and you'll find a host of new tiles for various key applets - Performance Monitor, Event Viewer, Task Scheduler, Resource Monitor and more - ready to be accessed at a click.
Windows 8 tips: productivity
19. Disable the lock screen
If you like your PC to boot just as fast as possible then the new Windows 8 lock screen may not appeal. Don't worry, though, if you'd like to ditch this then it only takes a moment.
Launch GPEdit.msc (the Local Group Policy Editor) and browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalisation.
Double-click 'Do not display the lock screen', select Enabled and click OK.
Restart and the lock screen will have gone.
If you can't easily find GPEdit.msc by searching in the Start screen, search for 'mmc', and then press Enter. On the File menu, click 'Add/Remove Snap-in', then in the 'Add or Remove Snap-ins' dialog box, click 'Group Policy Object Editor', and then click 'Add'.
In the 'Select Group Policy Object' dialog box, click 'Browse'. Click 'This Computer' to edit the Local Group Policy object, or click 'Users' to edit Administrator, Non-Administrator, or per-user Local Group Policy objects, then click 'Finish'.
20. Install anything
Most mobile platforms recommend you only install apps from approved sources to protect your security, and Windows 8 is the same: it'll only allow you to install trusted (that is, digitally signed) apps from the Windows store.
If this proves a problem, though, and you're willing to take the security risk (because this isn't something to try unless you're entirely sure it's safe), then the system can be configured to run trusted apps from any source.
Launch GPEdit.msc (see above for instructions on how to find it), browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > App Package Deployment, double-click 'Allow all trusted apps to install' and select Enabled > OK.
21. Log in automatically
Of course even if you remove the lock screen, you'll still be forced to manually log in every time your system starts. This can also be resolved at speed, though, using much the same technique as in previous versions of Windows.
Hold down the Windows key, press R, type 'netplwiz' and press Enter to launch the User Accounts dialog.
Clear the "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer" box and click OK.
Enter the user name and password of the account that you'd like to be logged in automatically, click OK, restart your system and this time it should boot directly to the Start screen.
22. Replacing the Start menu
If Windows 8's search and navigation tools still leave you pining for the regular Start menu, installing ViStart will replace it with something very similar.
Download the program and install it, carefully; it's free, but the Setup program will install the trial of a commercial Registry cleaner unless you explicitly tell it otherwise.
But once that's out the way, your old Start button will return in its regular place, and clicking it (or pressing the Windows key) will bring back the usual Start menu complete with search box and all the usual menus.
The program has a few flaws - on launch it gave us an e-mail icon for Outlook Express, for instance - but otherwise works well.
There's also Start8 from Windows customisation veterans Stardock. It provides similar functionality to ViStart but with a more up-to-date look.
23. Windows key shortcuts
- Win : switch between the Start screen and the last-running Windows 8 app
- Win + C : displays the Charms: the Settings, Devices, Share and Search options
- Win + D : launches the desktop
- Win + E : launches Explorer
- Win + F : opens the File Search pane
- Win + H : opens the Share pane
- Win + I : opens Settings
- Win + K : opens the Devices pane
- Win + L : locks your PC
- Win + M : minimises the current Explorer or Internet Explorer window (works in the full-screen IE, too)
- Win + O : toggles device orientation lock on and off
- Win + P : switch your display to a second display or projector
- Win + Q : open the App Search pane
- Win + R : opens the Run box
- Win + U : open the Ease of Access Centre
- Win + V : cycle through toasts (notifications)
- Win + W : search your system settings (type POWER for links to all power-related options, say)
- Win + X : displays a text menu of useful Windows tools and applets
- Win + Z : displays the right-click context menu when in a full-screen app
- Win + + : launch Magnifier and zoom in
- Win + - : zoom out
- Win + , : Aero peek at the desktop
- Win + Enter : launch Narrator
- Win + PgUp : move the current screen to the left-hand monitor
- Win + PgDn : move the current screen to the right-hand monitor
- Win + PrtSc : capture the current screen and save it to your Pictures folder
- Win + Tab : switch between running apps
24. Launch programs fast
If you're a fan of keyboard shortcuts and don't like the idea of scrolling through app tiles to find the program you need, don't worry, Windows 8 still supports a useful old shortcut. Which is perfect if, say, you're looking to be able to shut down your PC with a click.
Launch the desktop app, right-click an empty part of the desktop and click New > Shortcut.
Browse to the application you'd like to launch here. Of for the sake of this example, enter
shutdown.exe -s -t 00
to shut down your PC, or
shutdown.exe -h -t 00
to hibernate it, and click Next. Type a shortcut name - 'Hibernate', say - and click Finish.
Right-click the shortcut, select Pin to Start and it should appear on the far right of the Start screen - just drag the tile wherever you like.
25. Intelligent screengrabs
If a Windows 8 application is showing something interesting and you'd like to record it for posterity, then hold down the Windows key, press PrtSc, and the image won't just go to the clipboard: it'll also be automatically saved to your My Pictures folder with the name Screenshot.png (and then Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png and so on).
You might hope that pressing Win+Alt+PrtSc would similarly save an image of the active window, but no, sadly not. Maybe next time.
26. Photo Viewer
Double-click an image file within Explorer and it won't open in a Photo Viewer window any more, at least not by default. Instead you'll be switched to the full-screen Windows 8 Photos app - bad news if you thought you'd escaped such hassles by using the desktop.
If you'd like to fix this, go to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs and select Set your default programs.
Scroll down and click Windows Photo Viewer in the Programs list.
Finally, click 'Set this program as default' if you'd like the Viewer to open all the file types it can handle, or select the 'Choose default' options if you prefer to specify which file types it should open. Click OK when you're done.
Windows 8 tips: new options and features
Windows 8 now uses Internet Explorer's SmartScreen system-wide, checking downloaded files to ensure they're safe. In general this is a good thing, but if you have any problems then it can be tweaked.
Launch Control Panel, open the Action Centre applet, and click Change Windows SmartScreen Settings in the left-hand pane. Here you can keep the warning, but avoid the requirement for administrator approval, or turn SmartScreen off altogether. Make your choice and click OK to finish.
28. Windows 8 File History
Windows 8 includes an excellent File History feature, which can regularly and automatically back up your libraries, desktop, contacts and favourites to a second drive (even a USB flash drive - just connect it, and choose 'Configure this drive for backup using File History' from the menu).
To set this up, go to Control Panel > System and Security > File History. Click Exclude Folders to help define what you're saving, Advanced Settings to choose the backup frequency, Change Drive to choose the backup destination, and Turn On to enable the feature with your settings.
And once it's been running for a while, you can check on the history for any file in Explorer by selecting it, choosing the Home tab and clicking History.
29. VHD - enhanced
Windows 7 added support for creating and attaching virtual hard drives in Microsoft's VHD format. Now Windows 8 extends this with the new VHDX format, which improves performance, extends the maximum file size from 2 to 16TB, and makes the format "more resilient to power failure events" (so they shouldn't get corrupted as easily). Launch the Computer Management Control Panel applet, choose Disk Management, and click Actions > Create VHD to give the format a try.
30. Storage Spaces
If you have multiple hard drives packed with data then you'll know that managing them can be a hassle. But that's all about to change with a new Windows 8 feature, Storage Spaces.
The idea is that you can take all your hard drives, whether connected via USB, SATA or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), and add them to a storage pool. And you can then create one or more spaces within this pool, formatting and accessing them as a single drive, so you've only one drive letter to worry about.
What's more, the technology can also maximise your performance by spreading files across multiple drives (the system can then access each chunk simultaneously). There's an option to mirror your files, too, so even if one disk fails your data remains safe. And if your Storage Space begins to fill up then just plug in another drive, add it to the pool and you can carry on as before.
Yes, we know, this is just a consumer-friendly take on RAID. But there's nothing wrong with that, and it looks promising. If you'd like to read up on the technical details then the official Windows 8 blog has more, and you can then create and manage your drive pool from the new Control Panel\System and Security 'Storage Spaces' applet.
31. Virtual Machines
Install Windows 8 and you also get Microsoft's Hyper-V, enabling you to create and run virtual machines (as long as you're not running in a virtual machine already). Launch OptionalFeatures.exe (press Windows Key and R and type it in to run), check Hyper-V and click OK to enable the feature. Then switch back to the Start screen, scroll to the right, find and click on the Hyper-V Manager tile to begin exploring its capabilities.
32. Smart Searching
When you're in the mood to track down new Windows 8 features relating to a particular topic, you might be tempted to start by manually browsing Control Panel for interesting applets - but there is a simpler way.
If you'd like to know what's new in the area of storage, say, just press Win+W to launch the Settings Search dialog, type "drive", and the system will return a host of related options. That is, not just those with "drive" in the name, but anything storage-related: BitLocker, Device Manager, backup tools, disk cleanup, and interesting new features such as Storage Spaces.
This Search feature isn't new, of course, but it's easy to forget how useful this can be, especially when you're trying to learn about a new operating system. So don't just carry out specific searches, use the Apps search to look for general keywords such as "privacy" or "performance", and you just might discover something new.
Windows 8 tips: tweaks and customisations
33. Start screen background
If you'd like to change your lock, user tile or start screen images then press Win + I, click 'Change PC settings' and choose the Personalize option. Browse the various tabs and you'll be able to choose alternative images or backgrounds in a click or two.
And in theory you'll also be able to define apps that will display their status on the lock screen, although the app must specifically support this before it'll be accessible from your Personalize settings.
34. Scheduled Maintenance
Windows 8 can run common maintenance tasks - software updates, security scanning, system diagnostics and more at a scheduled convenient time, which is good.
Unfortunately it doesn't actually ask you what time is convenient, instead just setting it to 3am and allowing the system to wake your computer (if hardware and circumstances permit) to do its work. Which isn't so good.
To change this, launch Control Panel, click System and Security > Action Centre > Maintenance. You can now click 'Start maintenance' to launch any outstanding tasks right now, while selecting 'Change maintenance settings' enables you to choose a more convenient time, and optionally disable the feature's ability to wake up your computer if that's not required.
35. Picture password
Windows 8 enables you to create a picture password, where you choose an image, then draw on it in a combination of taps, lines and circles - only someone who can reproduce this pattern will be able to log on. Select Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > Create a Picture Password to give this a try.
36. Hibernate or Sleep
You won't necessarily see either Hibernate or Sleep in the Windows 8 shutdown dialogs, but if that's a problem then you may be able to restore them.
Launch the Control Panel Power Options applet (powercfg.cpl) and click 'Choose what the power buttons do' in the left-hand pane.
If you see a 'Change settings that are currently unavailable' link, then click it, and if Windows 8 detects that your PC supports Sleep and Hibernate options then they'll be displayed here. Check the boxes next to whatever you'd like to use, click Save Changes, and the new options should now appear in your shutdown dialogs.
37. Simplify Search
By default Windows 8 includes every bundled app in its Search results. If you'll never want to use some of these - the Store app, say - then select Win + I > Change PC Settings > > Search, choose which apps you don't want included, and your search list will be more manageable in future.
38. Touch keyboard
By default the Touch keyboard will try to help you out by, for instance, playing sounds as you type, capitalising the first letter of each sentence, adding a period if you double-tap the spacebar, and more. If any of this gets in your way, though, you can turn the relevant feature off: just go to Win + I > Change PC Settings > General and customise the keyboard to suit your needs.
39. Sync and privacy
One very useful Windows 8 feature is its ability to synchronise your settings with other PCs and devices. So if you've set up your new Windows Phone device with your contacts, email details and so on, then use the same Live account on Windows 8 and it'll import them for you: very convenient.
Of course that may not always be a good idea. If several people use a device then you may not want your website passwords to be synced, for instance. In which case you'll want to hold down the Windows key and press I, then click Change PC Settings > Sync Your Settings and disable anything you'd rather not share.
Windows 8 tips: Explorer tricks
40. Quick Access toolbar
Windows Explorer in Windows 8 features a Quick Access toolbar immediately above the menu, providing easy access to options such as 'New Folder', 'Minimise', 'Undo' and more.
This is customisable, too - click the arrow to the right of the default buttons, in the Explorer window caption bar, and choose whatever options you need. And you can include add any other ribbon option on the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking it and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
41. Advanced menu options
If you need to run the command prompt as an Administrator then your instant reaction will probably be to reach for the Start menu. Before becoming annoyed a microsecond later when you remember it's no longer there.
It's good to see that Microsoft has provided a simple alternative, then - just click the File menu in Explorer and click Open command prompt > Open command prompt as administrator.
And while you're there, make note of the other advanced new options also on that menu: you can open a new window in a new process, open Explorer, and even delete your Recent Places and Address Bar histories with a click.
42. Show all folders
The default Windows 8 Explorer view doesn't show all the usual drives and folders - Control Panel, Recycle Bin and so on - in the left-hand navigation pane. It certainly keeps the display simple, and if you want to see all your drives then you can just click Computer, but if you prefer to see everything upfront then it only takes a moment. Click View > Options, check 'Show all folders' and click OK.
43. Mount ISO files in Windows 8
Need to take a closer look at an ISO file? Right-click it in Explorer, click Mount and you can view it as a virtual drive, launch the files it contains, or add more if you like.
44. Open new file types
If you find a file type that none of your applications can handle, then right-click on the file in Windows Explorer and choose Open With. You'll see a 'Look for an app in the Store' option, which enables Windows 8 to use an automated search tool to find and highlight an app for you.
You can also click 'More Options' to see currently installed programs and apps that may be able to open the file.
45. Restart Explorer
If Explorer locks up for some reason, then regaining control is now very easy. No need to close the process any more: simply press Ctrl+Alt+Esc, select Explorer in the list, click Restart and Windows 8 will handle the rest.
Windows 8 tips: troubleshooting
46. VirtualBox error
The safest way to sample Windows 8 is to install it on a VirtualBox virtual machine. It's fairly easy to set up, there's no need to worry about partitioning or other issues, and if it doesn't work for whatever reason (which is possible, it's a beta after all) then you'll have lost nothing but a little time.
After completing your installation, though, you might find your virtual Windows 8 complaining that "Your PC needs to be repaired". But despite telling you to "Press Enter to try again", or "Press F8 for alternate boot options", neither option works.
Fortunately there's an easy answer. Close the Windows 8 window, select your virtual machine in VirtualBox, click Settings > System > Processor and check the 'Enable PAE/NX' box. Click OK, restart your virtual machine and this time it should launch properly.
47. Windows 8 apps won't launch
You click a Windows 8 app, and nothing else happens? Display issues are often the cause. In particular, Windows 8 apps don't currently support screen resolutions lower than 1024 x 768 (or 1366 x 768 when snapping), so increase your resolution if possible (launch the desktop, right-click, select Screen Resolution).
Or if that's no help, try updating your video drivers.
48. Performance problems
If your Windows 8 system seems sluggish, the revamped Task Manager may be able to offer some clues. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to take a look.
Click 'More Details'. The simplified Processes tab then reveals what's currently using your CPU time, RAM, hard drive and network bandwidth. (The more in-depth data available in previous Task Manager versions is now accessible via the Details tab.)
The Performance tab gives you a graphical view of resource use over the last few seconds, while the App History dialog looks back over days or more to reveal which app is the most resource-hungry.
And is your boot time slow? Click the new Startup tab to see programs your system is launching when Windows boots. The 'Startup impact' now shows how much of an effect each of these has on your boot time; if you spot high impact programs you're sure you don't need, then right-clicking them and selecting 'Disable' will ensure they're not loaded next time.
Powerful though all this is, if you can think of a reason to use the old Task Manager then it's still accessible. Hold down the Windows key, press R, type TaskMGR and press Enter to launch it. (Typing TM will launch the new version.)
49. Device Manager Events
If you've got a driver or hardware-related problem with Windows 8, launch Device Manager, browse to the relevant device, right-click it, select Properties and click the new Events tab. If Windows has installed drivers, related services or carried out other important actions on this device then you'll now see them here, which is very useful when troubleshooting.
50. Recovery options
Windows 8 has performed well for us, but if you find it won't boot at some point then you now have to press Shift+F8 during the launch process to access its recovery tools.
Access the Troubleshoot menu, then Advanced Options, and you'll be able to try the Automatic Repair tool, which may fix your problems. No luck? The same menu enables you to use the last System Restore point, tweak key Windows Startup settings, and even open a command prompt if you'd like to troubleshoot your system manually.
If that all seems like too much hassle then the Troubleshoot menu's option to 'Refresh your PC' may be preferable, because it essentially reinstalls Windows 8 but keeps your files, and will fix many issues.
But if it doesn't then there's always the more drastic 'Reset your PC' option, which removes all your files and installs a fresh new copy of Windows 8.
You don't have to access these features from the boot menu, of course. If Windows 8 starts but seems very unstable, then open the new Recovery applet in Control Panel for easy access to the Refresh, Reset and other disaster recovery features.