Since Windows 8 applications do not have any obvious means of minimizing or closing them, most people might just leave them opened and continue working with lots of apps opened in the background. You can check if and how many apps you have currently running by pointing your mouse to the upper left corner and swiping it down afterwards. A sidebar will open with all your running apps in it:
To close an app, bring it up and go to the top of the screen where the cursor will change into a hand symbol. Now click and hold the left mouse button and drag the window to the bottom of the screen:
Release the mouse button and the app will close!
Windows 8 has set some file types to open in full screen Metro applications which can be really annoying, especially if you just wanted to have a quick look at a photo or something. To stop this, you can determine certain applications to open all types of files they are able to open (e.g. Windows Photo Viewer for picture files - jpg, png, etc.).
To do so, hover your mouse over the top right corner to open the Charms menu and open the Search charm. Enter default programs into the search bar and open the search result with the same name. In the appearing window, click on Set your default programs (the first menu option).
In the new window, select one of the programs on the left that you want to use as general default options for pictures, videos, music or another type of files and click on Set this program as default afterwards:
Your files will now be opened in comfortable window applications!
By default Windows 8's new start screen allows that many tile rows that fit onto your screen on a certain resolution - however, you can change that value by using the Windows registry.
To get to the registry, point your cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen and right-click it once - a feature-rich menu should appear. Select Run here. In the opened Run-prompt, enter regedit and press Enter to get access.
Warning! Meddling with the registry without knowing what exactly you are doing can cause damage to your machine. To be safe, back up your registry as described here.
Within the registry, use the left navigation panel to get to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell\Grid key. Select it and look on the right pane afterwards - if there is no value called Layout_MaximumRowCount, create one by right-clicking some free space on the right pane and selecting New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it as shown above and give it the value you want to reduce the number of rows to (the value defines the maximum tile row - you can force it down to a number, but cannot force the screen to use one higher than it would use normally).
Afterwards quit the registry and log out or restart your machine. The metro start screen should now reduce the number of tile rows to the number you entered:
Along with all the other applications, games on Windows have been turned into Metro apps that can be downloaded from the App Store. The simple consequences are that
1. you need to play them full-screen and
2. you need to download them before being able to play them.
To download them, turn up the Metro menu and go to the Store. All games, including the classics, are found in the Games section:
After they have been installed you will find them in the XBox Games section of the Metro menu!
With Aero gone, the options to customize the appearance of your Windows desktop have highly decreased. Though while you don't have the option to add transparency to window borders, you can still achieve them with a simple trick (you won't have the blur anymore - just transparent borders).
To do that,
- right-click your desktop and click on Personalize.
- Activate the High Contrast White theme and
- click on the Color options beneath the theme selection pane.
- Right-click your desktop again to open another personalization window (don't close the first one).
- Activate one of the default Windows themes again.
- Afterwards, switch to the first window again -
- click the Save changes button there.
You should now have transparent window borders without blur:
As you might have noticed this way of achieving transparent borders is not intended to be used - some machines may experience graphic corruptions when using this method. If you happen to have these, you can reverse the whole thing by chosing another theme again!
By default, if you open web content from the Metro UI, it will be opened with the Metro version of Internet Explorer. If you don't like that behavior you can easily change it in the Internet options. Open the charms menu by pointing your mouse to the top or bottom right corner of the screen and click on Settings. Choose Control Panel from the next menu.
In the classic Control Panel, go to Network and Internet > Internet Options and choose the Programs tab. The first section, Opening Internet Explorer holds a drop-down menu where you choose Always in Internet Explorer on the desktop from. Apply your changes and the Internet Explorer should now be opened in the desktop App instead of its Metro version.
Apart from the traditional text string password, Windows 8 offers a new form of securing your user account which is by including touch and/or gestures into the procedure. Spoken directly, you are now able to select a picture where you perform three mouse or touch gestures on (circles, line or dots) that will unlock your account if repeated correctly.
To create such a password open the Charms menu by pointing your mouse to the top or bottom right corner and select Settings. Afterwards click on Control Panel. Then navigate to User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Change Your Windows Password > Make Changes to my account in PC settings > Create a picture password. On the next screen, browse for a picture you want to use as background for the picture password. When you are asked to, perform three gestures on the picture you chose - you can do circles, dots and lines, where circles that are too small will be recognized as dots and any other form will be transformed into one of those three depending on where start and end-points are and how the lines were drawn.
The gestures you have drawn will shortly blink up afterwards, so you now if it is what you actually wanted to draw. After you have drawn three forms, you have to confirm by drawing them again. You can orient yourself on the forms of the picture but should not do so too closely, since it will be really easy to guess afterwards. In the following picture for example, one should not use the bubbles as line reference but look for other forms or links to use - make it easy rememberable for you but hard to guess for others.
If you forget what you drew or the system, for any reason, simply does not accept what you drew (which usually does not happen that easily) - there is still the option to switch back to the regular text string password on log-in screen.
Since you now won't get around to use the Metro Start-screen on the recently released Windows 8 Consumer preview, it might be good to know how to add some functionality to it.
To add the usual Windows tools or Apps you can just open the Metro menu and right-click some free space. On the appearing menu at the bottom of the screen, choose All Apps. You now get to a list of Windows components and apps, which you can right-click to open their menus. From there, click on Pin to Start:
To pin other programs or folders to the Start-screen, go to the classic desktop and right-click the item you want to have on the Metro screen. Here, you also have the option to Pin to Start.
A way to produce more customized tiles is to create a shortcut on the desktop which you can assign switches to. For example, if the shutdown button is too hidden for you, just create a new shortcut and assign the path shutdown /s to it (for more options, open a cmd and type shutdown /?). Stick it to Metro as described above, give it a nice icon before maybe, and your shutdown button will be far more accessible than the original one.