We take a look at what's new in the Windows 8 interface, including the Start Screen, Charms and switching between programs
Windows 8 looks rather different to previous versions, but don't worry because it's easy to learn. You can read our review of Windows 8 here.
Read more: Windows 8 guides
The first thing that's new is the Start Screen. This replaces the old Start Menu and, as you can see, uses the extra space to show you more information thanks to the Live Tiles. These will keep you up to date with the latest news, emails and appointments. Ordinary shortcuts appear as smaller tiles that don't change.
You can use the mouse wheel to move through the different items on the Start Screen, swipe from an empty area or click and drag the scroll bar at the bottom.
If you can't find the program you're looking for, just start typing its name as you would have done in the Start Menu of Windows 7 or Vista. Windows 8 will instantly start searching for possible matches and show them as you type. Results are broken down by categories, so if you're looking for a setting, click on Settings in the right hand column.
There are several different ways to make the Start Screen appear. The easiest is to press the Windows key. The next is to move the mouse to the bottom left hand corner of the screen, where the Start button used to be and an icon for the Start Screen appears.
Finally you can find a shortcut back to the Start Screen in the Charms. Move the mouse to the top right hand corner of the screen or press Windows and C and a menu appears. Click on the middle icon to return to the Start Screen.
The Charms include several other very useful tools including Search and Settings.
The Charms can be used within apps. For example, to search for an app in the App Store, show the charms and click on Search.
If you're not using Apps, programs will appear on the Desktop as they did in previous versions of Windows. If you ever want to quickly jump to the Desktop, just press Windows and D. There should also be a Tile for the Desktop on the Start Screen.
There is a new way to switch between programs (although Alt and Tab still works). Move the mouse into the top left corner.
To make the best use of available screen space, Apps don't have traditional menus, instead right-click on an empty part of the app (not an image or link) to reveal any extra options.
Another useful Windows key shortcut is Windows and X. This makes a menu appear with some very useful tools including Power Options, Search and Task Manager. If you look carefully, you'll see that each option has one letter underlined. Simply press that key to launch that tool without having to touch the mouse. For example, to launch the Task Manager, press Windows and X followed by t.
Updating your subscription status