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What you really, really need to know

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[Note: We received this FAQ document anonymously and cannot confirm its authenticity. However, it has such dead useful advice, we thought we'd share it with you - Eds]

Q. Who is this guide for?

A. This guide is for users who want to take advantage of new technologies in Windows® - such as faster performance, shorter boot time, new virtualisation technology, and pooled storage - but wish to minimize the disruption to their personal workflow.

Q. What disruption should I expect in Windows® 8™?

A. User interface designers have been researching the consequences of context-switching for thirty years. Context-switching, or switching between running applications, causes user confusion and loss of productivity, as the user adjusts to different behaviours. However, instead of minimizing disruption Microsoft® has made this confusion a key feature of the Windows® 8™ user experience:
  • The user is switched between two radically different sets of UI semantics and UI behaviours. The scale and information density of the two environments is also radically different.

  • Default applications in Windows® 8™ lack much of the functionality that of users expect from Windows® 7™, Windows® Vista™ and Windows® XP™. Helper apps and major bundled applications, such as the email client and web browser, will default to restricted versions.

  • Windows® 8™ duplicates some functionality and hides other functionality. In addition, some functionality may or may not be present at any time. For this, see Heisenfeature below.

    To maintain a consistent level of inconsistency, Windows® 8™ also features non-deterministic design elements. See Heinsendesign below.

Q. How do I distinguish bugs from features?

A. The traditional taxonomy is as follows:
  • A software bug is an undocumented and unwanted behaviour of a piece of software, which may be caused by carelessness, incompetence or possibly inebriation when the software is created. An example of a bug is a calculation program incorrectly adding two numbers.

  • A software feature is a desired and typically documented behaviour of a piece of software. An example of a feature may be the ability to print a photograph from an image viewer helper application.

With Windows® 8™, Microsoft® has taken an innovative approach and discarded this taxonomy. The user is instead offered a holistic and integrated user experience where the old distinctions are no longer relevant. An aspect of the software’s behaviour may be a bug, or it may be a feature. For users unwilling to accept the distinction at first, this guide will help them maintain productivity while pivoting to the new Microsoft® Windows® 8™ user experience paradigm.

Q. How do I minimize context-switching?

A. In previous versions of Windows®, the [Windows] key invoked the Start Menu. Microsoft® has removed the Start Menu feature, but for compatibility reasons retained the name, and replaced it with an entirely new feature.

Now, pressing the Windows® [Windows] key acts as a portal between two completely self-contained universes: the Metro Notro desktop and the traditional Windows® desktop. Users are advised to avoid disruption by installing a third-party alternative.

Several are available, and are listed here in alphabetical order:

  • All of these utilities add a traditional Start menu when the Windows® [Windows] key is pressed. The new Windows® 8™ 'Start' menu, which is not a 'Start' menu, remains but is no longer evoked by default. The most effective of these utilities is the paid application Start8 which allows the user to boot into the desktop and stay there for days, or weeks, without seeing Metro the new interface at all.

Q. What functionality is duplicated?

A. Windows® 8™ includes two web browsers – both called Internet Explorer - and two Control Panels. In addition, there are two opportunities to log into the system: one for cloud access where personal data is stored on Microsoft® servers, and the traditional Windows® client login.

Q. How can I restore functionality missing in basic helper applications?

A. The default viewer application for images is a Metro application. It contains the following options:

Delete, Rotate, Crop, Set as…, increase/decrease size.

The default viewer application for Adobe® Acrobat™ files contains the following options:

Find, Two Page [view], One Page [view], Continuous [view], Open, Save as..., More {Rotate, Info, Bookmarks}, increase/decrease size

Users wishing to use features they expect from previous versions of Windows® should replace the default Metro applications with others provided. To change the image viewer:

  1. From the Metro Start menu that isn't a Start menu, type "Default" and start the Default Programs application
  2. Choose the first option: "Set your default programs"
  3. In the list box, choose Windows® Photo Viewer, or your preferred application, e.g. IrfanView.
  4. Choose "Set this program as default"
  5. Click OK
Alternatively:
  1. Navigate to the classic Windows® desktop
  2. Open Windows® Explorer
  3. Find an image and right click, and from the menu select "Open with…"
  4. Choose Windows® Photo Viewer from the options, and click OK

Note: we do not recommend opening PNG files in Windows® Notepad.

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