Windows 8 in the Workplace

I’m sure by now most people have seen those cool commercials on TV presenting Windows 8 on those neat tablets. One of my favorites – because I find it so entertaining in a drink the kool-aide kind of way – is the one where a techy is showing folks how easy it is to operate. Remember, its a commercial!

Yes, it’s a commercial designed specifically to get the viewer thinking that it really is that simple. What they don’t show the viewers are the things that really do make things easy to use Windows 8. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

First, some facts to know about Windows 8 before taking the plunge:

  • Windows 8 has a completely new look and feel to it and as such from the start – and there’s no pun intended – the user will experience some confusion.
  • In the workplace make sure that new machine you’re thinking about upgrading to will have Windows 8 Pro on it and not the version you’ll get if you purchased the machine from Best Buy or Staples. In case you do get the new machine from a place like that request the upgrade for the professional version so your IT Consultant or Network Admin doesn’t have an aneurysm.
  • The standard Start menu we’ve all grown accustomed to since Windows 95 is gone! In its place is a full-screen that takes it’s place with not icons, but panels that launch programs. Again though, this Metro Menu as it’s referred to doesn’t auto-magically display programs that are installed on your system the way you’re expecting it to. Rather, it displays the cool things Microsoft thinks you’ll want to see; most of which have nothing to do with being productive or getting work done. You can, however, make adjustments to the new Start menu so that those programs do appear in the list and even move them to the front of the display, or you can pin them to your task bar on the desktop which MS deemed worthy of leaving in place.
  • Windows 8 behaves as though it’s been optimized for the tablet platform and as such is less of a resource hog than Windows 7, and especially Vista.
  • Take the time to do the research and make sure your mission critical applications will actually run on the Windows 8 platform; as most installations are 64 bit – the 32 bit version of Windows 8 is markedly slower. There are a few major software vendors out there, accounting apps, that aren’t quite yet ready for the Windows 8 platform.

Tips for getting around

  •  Can’t find the program listed on the Start Menu? Hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and then press the “Q” key. This will take you to a screen with a search field where you can type in any part of the program’s name and a list of possible candidates will appear on the screen. At this point you can start the program, pin it to the start menu, or pin it to the task bar.
  • Want to deploy this company wide with the least amount of training? There is a very in-expensive add-on program that brings back the traditional start menu. And when I say in-expensive I mean just that: it costs $5 dollars but is worth and ounce of Gold. It’s called Start8. This little utility is very configurable and is likely the best $5 I’ve ever spent! 
  • Still can’t find the Control Panel? Open a Windows Explorer window, otherwise known as My Computer (on Windows XP), or Computer (Windows Vista and Windows 7). In the left pane you’ll see a list of items one of which is labeled Computer. Click on that and then look at the ribbon on the top of the window. If you can’t see the ribbon move your mouse to the top of the Window and it will appear. Now you’ll see an icon labeled Control Panel. However the easiest method is using the Windows Key+Q keyboard shortcut and then typing Control into the search field.

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