Windows 8 Touch Interface Is Major New Feature

 
 
By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-08-27 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


After that, the process was painless, but very slow. The machine had a slow hard disk, a slow DVD drive and not a lot of memory. But eventually it all worked.

When Windows 8 starts, it comes up in what used to be called the Metro interface. You'll see a collection of active tiles for various features and apps provided as part of the package, as well as tiles that launch the applications that were already on the machine when you installed Windows 8. One of the tiles is named "Desktop." Click on that, and you get the standard Windows desktop that looks much like what you had with Windows 7. The most notable difference is that there's no start button.

This brings us to the key difference between Windows 8 and previous versions. Because it's designed to work with a touch-based interface, many functions are simply based on position. If you position the mouse pointer over a corner of the screen, something happens. The lower right corner, for example, brings up a menu that is the analog of the Start menu. One of the icons on this Start menu is for Search, another for Settings, etc.

Click on Search and the search field appears along with a screen showing all of your applications and the other icons that appear on your computer. If you want a specific application, such as Microsoft Paint, just start typing it in the search field and it'll appear. The Settings icon includes access to the Control Panel, which looks just like it did with Windows 7.

In the lower left corner of the desktop a tiny view of the tiled interface appears. Click on that and you're taken there. In the upper left you'll get a bar with thumbnail images of all running applications, any of which you can bring to the front by clicking on it.

There's a scroll bar at the bottom of the screen that lets you move the screen image so you can see the whole thing, but it's a lot easier to perform these functions if you have a touchpad that supports multi-touch, such as the Logitech Wireless Touchpad which I used for this review. While it doesn't fully support multi-touch with Windows 8 yet, it does allow you to swipe screens from side to side and it works very well as a pointing device.

While there's a lot more to Windows 8 than this, what I found is the evaluation process is relatively benign. You'll have to learn the details of navigation, but it's not exactly rocket science. Beyond that, I found that the old computer ran faster and so far every Windows 7 compatible application I've tried has worked as expected.

In fact, the biggest surprise so far is that there have been relatively few surprises. Learning to navigate took an hour or two, but that was about it. For current Windows 7 users, the transition isn't a big deal, as long as you take the time to learn how it works.



 
 
 
 
Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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