Microsoft Windows 8 Review - Navigation, Tiles, Apps and Charm Bar Review

Windows 8 Navigation: the Start Screen


the Start menu you know and love? For Windows 8, it’s now the home

screen. Like any mobile OS, Windows 8 has a ‘home screen’, which is the

default when you start up, and which the Windows key on your keyboard or

Windows button on your tablet drops you straight back to.

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you, those are far from the only ways to get there. You can also move

your cursor to the bottom-left corner and click the resulting popup, or

call up a sort of universal task bar called the (retch) Charm Bar by

swiping out from the side with touch or moving your cursor to the top or

bottom right corners when using a mouse, where it’s the middle

‘button’. And that’s not even talking keyboard shortcuts.  


the Start screen, you’ll see your most commonly used tiles, panning to

the right. Similar to Android, you can (two-finger) swipe to move

between sections of this panoramic home screen. Or, if you don’t have

touch, just move the mouse to the screen’s side to pan, use the scroll

bar at the bottom, or use your mouse’s scroll wheel.

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you instead wish to see all your tiles on a single screen, you can

simply pinch out using touch, or click in the lower right corner with

the mouse. This leads to a minimised view of all Groups/tiles on the

Start screen, which Microsoft calls Semantic Zoom.

Windows 8 Navigation: Tiles


like on competing mobile operating systems, you can re-arrange Win8

tiles to your liking. Simply click/touch and hold to then drag the tile

where you like. Drag it down to the top or bottom of the screen and

you’ll get the same minimised view just described, handy for moving a

tile to a far-flung Group. One nice little touch is that you can leave

‘gaps’ where there is no tile, or even isolate a single tile from its


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can of course be added and removed from the Windows 8 Start screen. To

do this, open All Apps by right-clicking (to ‘right-click using touch,

simply press until the circle appears) anywhere on the Start screen or

two-finger swiping up from the bottom. This brings you to a list of all

available apps, shortcuts, and accessories. Here you’ll find many

Windows 7 stalwarts like NotePad, Calculator, and Paint. Now right-click

on any of these to pin/unpin the from the Start screen.


on the Start screen are arranged in blocks called Groups. Groups can be

a single tile or up to four small tiles/three large rectangular tiles

wide. You start off with two Groups by default but can add more by

simply dragging a tile to a blank area to the side of an existing Group.

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can name groups, making them a bit like wide-open, humongous folders.

To do this, simply right-click while in the zoomed-out view.

Windows 8 Navigation: Apps


much like Android or iOS, you don’t actually need to close Windows 8

apps the way you would regular X86 programs. When you exit a running app

or open a new one, they suspend in the background, ready to pick up

from where you left off at a moment’s notice.

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switch between ‘active’ apps, you can either click/touch the Start

screen’s top left-hand corner, which will switch between apps

sequentially – or simply move down from this corner with the mouse

(swipe out and back in without breaking contact using a finger) to call

up a switching panel that’s very reminiscent of the one found in Android

Ice Cream Sandwich and up. From here you can ‘pull apps out’ to

maximise them.


Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts, such as Alt plus Tab or F4, will also

still work to switch between or permanently close apps. Remember when

wanting to get more options from an app: just like in Windows 7,

right-click/touch is your friend.

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for a program or app is as easy as ever in Windows 8. Simply call up

the Charm Bar (by swiping out from the side with touch or moving your

cursor to the top or bottom right corners when using a mouse) and press

the familiar magnifying glass to get started.

Windows 8 Navigation: Controls


of the controls for Windows 8, such as volume, screen brightness,

keyboard launguage and the like, can be accessed from the Charm Bar.

Merely go to its Settings icon to alter almost anything.