Windows 8 is coming, and the recent Consumer Preview showed it’s very different to what’s gone before.
Out goes the Start menu, in comes the new touch-oriented Metro Start screen, new apps, new interface conventions – even experienced PC users may be left feeling a little lost.
Don’t despair, though, help is at hand. We’ve been investigating every part of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, uncovering many of its most important tips and tricks, so read our guide and you’ll soon be equipped to get the most out of Microsoft’s latest release.
1. Lock screen
Windows 8 opens on its lock screen, which looks pretty but unfortunately displays no clues about what to do next.
It’s all very straightforward, though. Just tap the space bar, spin the mouse wheel or swipe upwards on a touch screen to reveal a regular login screen with the user name you created during installation. Enter your password to begin.
2. Basic navigation
Windows 8 launches with its new Metro interface, all colourful tiles and touch-friendly apps. And if you’re using a tablet then it’ll all be very straightforward: just swipe left or right to scroll the screen, and tap any tile of interest.
On a regular desktop, though, you might alternatively spin the mouse wheel to scroll backwards and forwards.
And you can also use the keyboard. Press the Home or End keys to jump from one end of your Start screen to the other, for instance, then use the cursor keys to select a particular tile, tapping Enter to select it. Press the Windows key to return to the Metro screen; right-click (or swipe down on) apps you don’t need and select Unpin to remove them; and drag and drop the other tiles around to organise them as you like.
3. App groups
The Start screen apps are initially displayed in a fairly random order, but if you’d prefer a more organised life then it’s easy to sort them into custom groups.
You might drag People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar over to the left-hand side, for instance, to form a separate “People” group. Click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to carry out a “semantic zoom”, and you’ll now find you can drag and drop the new group (or any of the others) around as a block.
Right-click within the block (while still in the semantic zoom view) and you’ll also be able to give the group a name, which – if you go on to add another 20 or 30 apps to your Start screen – will make it much easier to find the tools you need.
4. Simplified Start menu?
The Windows 8 Developer Preview had a very basic Start menu which you could access by swiping from the right side of a touch screen, or moving the mouse cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen. This has changed a little in the Consumer Preview: now you need to right-click in the bottom left corner (or hold down the Windows key and press X) for a text-based menu which provides easy access to lots of useful applets and features: Device Manager, Control Panel, Explorer, the Search dialog and more.
5. Find your applications
The Win+X menu is useful, but no substitute for the old Start menu as it doesn’t provide access to your applications. To find this, hold down the Windows key and press Q (or right-click an empty part of the Start screen and select All Apps) to reveal a scrolling list of all your installed applications. Browse the various tiles to find what you need and click the relevant app to launch it.
6. Easy access
If there’s an application you use all the time then you don’t have to access it via the search system, of course. Pin it to the Start screen and it’ll be available at a click.
Start by typing part of the name of your application. Windows 8 Consumer Preview makes it more difficult to access Control Panel, for instance, so type Control.
Right-click the “Control Panel” tile on the Apps Search screen, and click “Pin to Start”.
Now press the Windows key, scroll to the right and you’ll see the Control Panel tile at the far end. Drag and drop this over to the left somewhere if you’d like it more easily accessible, then click the tile to open the desktop along with the Control Panel window, and press the Windows key to return you to the Start screen when you’ve done.
7. Shutting down
You’ve finished your first Windows 8 session, and would like to close your system down – but with no Start menu it’s not exactly obvious how this can be done.
It’s easy enough when you know the secret, though. Just move the mouse cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen, click the Settings icon – or just hold down the Windows key and press I – and you’ll see a power button. Click this and choose “Shut down” or “Restart”.
Some of the tricks available in previous versions of Windows still apply. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, for instance, click the power button in the bottom right-hand corner and you’ll be presented with the same “Shut down” and “Restart” options.
And if you’re on the desktop, press Alt+F4 and you’ll be able to choose Shut Down, Restart, Sign Out or Switch User option
8. App bar
Metro apps aim to be simpler than old-style Windows applets, which means it’s goodbye to menus, complex toolbars, and many interface standards. There will be usually be a few options available on the App bar, though, so if you’re unsure what to do then right-click an empty part of the screen or press Windows+Z to take a closer look.
9. What’s running?
If you launch a Metro app, play with it for a while, then press the Windows key you’ll switch back to the Start screen. Your app will remaining running, but as there’s no taskbar then you might be wondering how you’d ever find that out.
You could just press Alt+Tab, which shows you what’s running just as it always have.
Holding down the Windows key and pressing Tab displays a pane on the left-hand side of the screen with your running apps. (To see this with the mouse, move your cursor to the top left corner of the screen, wait until the thumbnail of one app appears, then drag down.)
And of course you can always press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to see all your running apps in the Task Manager, if you don’t mind (or actually need) the extra technical detail.
10. Closing an app
Metro apps don’t have close buttons, but this isn’t the issue you might think. Apps are suspended when you switch to something else so they’re only a very minimal drain on your system, and if you need the system resources then they’ll automatically be shut down. (Their context will be saved, of course, so on relaunching they’ll carry on where you left off.)
If you want to close down an app anyway, though, move the mouse cursor up to the top of the screen. When it turns from the regular mouse pointer to the icon of a hand, hold down the left mouse button and drag it down the screen. Your app should shrink to a thumbnail which you can drag off the screen to close it.
If that’s too much hassle then simply pressing Alt+F4 still works.
And when all else fails then press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task Manager, right-click something in the Apps list and select End Task. Beware, though, close something you shouldn’t and it’s easy to crash or lock up your PC.
11. Mastering Metro Internet Explorer
Metro apps don’t always work as you’d expect. Click the Internet Explorer tab, for instance, and you’ll launch a full-screen version without toolbars, menus or sidebars, which like so much of Windows 8 may leave you initially feeling lost.
Right-click an empty part of the page, though, and you’ll find options to create and switch between tabs, as well as a Refresh button, a “Find” tool and the ability to pin an Internet shortcut to the Start page.
But if that’s not enough then you can also launch the regular Internet Explorer from the desktop, just as before. Note its icon position on the taskbar – the first being 1, the second 2 and so on – and then you can hold down the Windows key at any time and press that number to open full-strength IE.
12. Run two apps side by side
Metro apps are what Microsoft call “immersive” applications, which basically means they run full-screen – but there is a way to view two at once. Swipe from the left and the current app will turn into a thumbnail; drop this and one app displays in a sidebar pane while the other takes the rest of the screen. And you can then swap these by swiping again.
Or, if you’re using a keyboard, use Win+. to snap an app to the right, or Win+Shift+. to snap to the left. (Whatever the interface, you can’t snap apps unless your screen resolution is at least 1366 x 768.)
As an example of how you might use this, launch the Map applet and press Win+., then switch back to the Start screen and launch your desktop. And now you have a live, scrolling Map applet on the right side of your screen which is effectively working as a desktop sidebar, and you can access simply by moving the mouse there and clicking on it. If you need more space then drag the separator to the left and the desktop will shrink to a left-hand sidebar, but both apps remain active and working, so you can use Metro and regular desktop tools side by side.
13. Spell check
Metro apps all have spellcheck where relevant, which looks and works much as it does in Microsoft Office. Make a mistake and a wavy red line will appear below the offending word; tap or right-click this to see suggested alternative words, or add the word to your own dictionary if you prefer.
14. Run as Administrator
Some programs need you to run them with Administrator rights before they’ll work properly. The old context menu isn’t available for a pinned Start screen app, but right-click one, and if it’s appropriate for this app then you’ll see a Run As Administrator option.
15. Uninstall easily
The latest Windows 8 apps are better than those in the Developer Preview, but they’re still a fairly random selection and you’re sure to find some that you’ll rarely, if ever use. In which case right-clicking one of their Start screen tiles will display a few relevant options.
If this is one of the larger tiles, for instance, choosing “Small” will cut it down to half the size, freeing up some valuable Start screen real estate.
If you just want to dismiss the app for now, select “Unpin from Start”. The tile will disappear, but if you change your mind then you can always add it again later. (Search for the app, right-click it, select Pin to Start.)
Or, if you’re sure you’ll never want to use an app again, choose Uninstall to remove it entirely.
16. Apps and privacy
Once you’ve explored your built-in apps then launching the Windows 8 Store will provide easy to access to around 70 more: games, video and music apps, photo tools and more. While not bad for a beta, it’s obviously a very small selection when compared to other app stores, so there’s no need to worry particularly about privacy issues.
It is worth keeping in mind that by default Windows 8 apps can use your name, location and account picture, though. But if you’re not happy with that, it’s easily changed. Press Win+I, click More PC Settings, select Privacy and click the relevant buttons to disable any details you’d rather not share.
17. Install anything
Most mobile platforms recommend you only install apps from approved sources to protect your security, and Windows 8 is the same: it’ll only allow you to install trusted (that is, digitally signed) apps from the Windows store.
If this proves a problem, though, and you’re willing to take the security risk (because this isn’t something to try unless you’re entirely sure it’s safe), then the system can be configured to run trusted apps from any source. Launch GPEdit.msc, browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > App Package Deployment, double-click “Allow all trusted apps to install” and select Enabled > OK.
18. Administrative tools
Experienced Windows users who spend much of their time in one advanced applet or another are often a little annoyed to see their favourite tools buried by Windows 8. Microsoft have paid at least some attention, though, and there is a way to bring some of them back.
Open the Metro Settings panel (press Win+I), click the Settings link, change “Show administrative tools” to Yes and click back on an empty part of the Start screen. And it’s as simple as that. Scroll to the right and you’ll find a host of new tiles for various key applets – Performance Monitor, Event Viewer, Task Scheduler, Resource Monitor and more – ready to be accessed at a click.
19. Disable the lock screen
If you like your PC to boot just as fast as possible then the new Windows 8 lock screen may not appeal. Don’t worry, though, if you’d like to ditch this then it only takes a moment.
Launch GPEdit.msc (the Local Group Policy Editor) and browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalisation.
Double-click “Do not display the lock screen”, select Enabled and click OK.
Restart and the lock screen will have gone.
20. Log in automatically
Of course even if you remove the lock screen, you’ll still be forced to manually log in every time your system starts. This can also be resolved at speed, though, using much the same technique as in previous versions of Windows.
Hold down the Windows key, press R, type netplwiz and press Enter to launch the User Accounts dialog.
Clear the “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” box and click OK.
Enter the user name and password of the account that you’d like to be logged in automatically, click OK, restart your system and this time it should boot directly to the Start screen.
21. Replacing the Start menu
If Windows 8’s search and navigation tools still leave you pining for the regular Start menu, installing ViStart will replace it with something very similar.
Download the program and install it, carefully; it’s free, but the Setup program will install the trial of a commercial Registry cleaner unless you explicitly tell it otherwise.
But once that’s out the way, your old Start button will return in its regular place, and clicking it (or pressing the Windows key) will bring back the usual Start menu complete with search box and all the usual menus.
The program has a few flaws – on launch it gave us an E-mail icon for “Outlook Express”, for instance – but otherwise works well.
There’s also Start8 from Windows customisation veterans Stardock. It provides similar functionality to ViStart but with a more up-to-date look.
22. Windows key shortcuts
The Windows Metro interface is a major change, and it’ll probably take quite some time before you’re familiar and comfortable with the new way of working. In the meantime, though, mastering the various Windows key shortcuts could save you a great deal of time and hassle.
- Win : switch between the Start screen and the last-running Metro app
- Win + C : displays the “Charms”: the Settings, Devices, Share and Search options
- Win + D : launches the desktop
- Win + E : launches Explorer
- Win + F : opens the File Search pane
- Win + H : opens the Share pane
- Win + I : opens Settings
- Win + K : opens the Devices pane
- Win + L : locks your PC
- Win + M : minimises the current Explorer or Internet Explorer window (works in the full-screen Metro IE, too)
- Win + O : toggles device orientation lock on and off
- Win + P : switch your display to a second display or projector
- Win + Q : open the App Search pane
- Win + R : opens the Run box
- Win + U : open the Ease of Access Centre
- Win + V : cycle through toasts (notifications)
- Win + W : search your system settings (type POWER for links to all power-related options, say)
- Win + X : displays a text menu of useful Windows tools and applets
- Win + Z : displays the right-click context menu when in a full-screen Metro app
- Win + + : launch Magnifier and zoom in
- Win + – : zoom out
- Win + , : Aero peek at the desktop
- Win + Enter : launch Narrator
- Win + PgUp : Move the current Metro screen to the left-hand monitor
- Win + PgDn : Move the current Metro screen to the right-hand monitor
- Win + PrtSc : capture the current screen and save it to your Pictures folder
- Win + Tab : switch between running Metro apps
23. Launch programs fast
If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts and don’t like the idea of scrolling through Metro tiles to find the program you need, don’t worry, Windows 8 still supports a useful old shortcut. Which is perfect if, say, you’re looking to be able to shut down your PC with a click.
Launch the desktop app, right-click an empty part of the desktop and click New > Shortcut.
Browse to the application you’d like to launch here. Of for the sake of this example, enter
shutdown.exe -s -t 00
to shut down your PC, or
shutdown.exe -h -t 00
to hibernate it, and click Next. Type a shortcut name – Hibernate, say – and click Finish.
Right-click the shortcut, select Pin to Start and it should appear on the far right of the Metro screen – just drag the tile wherever you like.
24. Intelligent screengrabs
If a Metro application is showing something interesting and you’d like to record it for posterity, then hold down the Windows key, press PrtSc, and the image won’t just go to the clipboard: it’ll also be automatically saved to your My Pictures folder with the name Screenshot.png (and then Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png and so on).
You might hope that pressing Win+Alt+PrtSc would similarly save an image of the active window, but no, sadly not. Maybe next time.
25. Photo Viewer
Double-click an image file within Explorer and it won’t open in a Photo Viewer window any more, at least not by default. Instead you’ll be switched to the full-screen Metro Photos app, bad news if you thought you’d escaped such hassles by using the desktop.
If you’d like to fix this, go to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs and select Set your default programs.
Scroll down and click Windows Photo Viewer in the Programs list.
Finally, click “Set this program as default” if you’d like the Viewer to open all the file types it can handle, or select the “Choose default” options if you prefer to specify which file types it should open. Click OK when you’re done.
Windows 8 now uses IE’s SmartScreen system-wide, checking downloaded files to ensure they’re safe. In general this is a good thing, but if you have any problems then it can be tweaked.
Launch Control Panel, open the Action Centre applet, and click Change Windows SmartScreen Settings in the left-hand pane. Here you can keep the warning, but avoid the requirement for administrator approval, or turn SmartScreen off altogether. Make your choice and click OK to finish.
27. Windows 8 File History
Windows 8 includes an excellent File History feature, which can regularly and automatically back up your libraries, desktop, contacts and favourites to a second drive (even a USB flash drive – just connect it, and choose “Configure this drive for backup using File History” from the menu).
To set this up, go to Control Panel > System and Security > File History. Click Exclude Folders to help define what you’re saving, Advanced Settings to choose the backup frequency, Change Drive to choose the backup destination, and Turn On to enable the feature with your settings.
And once it’s been running for a while, you can check on the history for any file in Explorer by selecting it, choosing the Home tab and clicking History.
28. VHD – enhanced
Windows 7 added support for creating and attaching virtual hard drives in Microsoft’s VHD format. Now Windows 8 extends this with the new VHDX format, which improves performance, extends the maximum file size from 2 to 16TB, and makes the format “more resilient to power failure events” (so they shouldn’t get corrupted as easily). Launch the Computer Management Control Panel applet, choose Disk Management, and click Actions > Create VHD to give the format a try.
29. Storage Spaces
If you have multiple hard drives packed with data then you’ll know that managing them can be a hassle. But that’s all about to change with a new Windows 8 Consumer Preview feature, Storage Spaces.
The idea is that you can take all your hard drives, whether connected via USB, SATA or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), and add them to a storage pool. And you can then create one or more spaces within this pool, formatting and accessing them as a single drive, so you’ve only one drive letter to worry about.
What’s more, the technology can also maximise your performance by spreading files across multiple drives (the system can then access each chunk simultaneously). There’s an option to mirror your files, too, so even if one disk fails your data remains safe. And if your Storage Space begins to fill up then just plug in another drive, add it to the pool and you can carry on as before.
Yes, we know, this is just a consumer-friendly take on RAID. But there’s nothing wrong with that, and it looks promising. If you’d like to read up on the technical details then the official Windows 8 blog has more, and you can then create and manage your drive pool from the new Control Panel\System and Security “Storage Spaces” applet.
30. Virtual Machines
Install Windows 8 and you also get Microsoft’s Hyper-V, allowing you to create and run virtual machines (as long as you’re not running in a virtual machine already). Launch OptionalFeatures.exe, check Hyper-V and click OK to enable the feature. Then switch back to Metro, scroll to the right, find and click on the Hyper-V Manager tile to begin exploring its capabilities.
31. Smart Searching
When you’re in the mood to track down new Windows 8 features relating to a particular topic, you might be tempted to start by manually browsing Control Panel for interesting applets – but there is a simpler way.
If you’d like to know what’s new in the area of storage, say, just press Win+W to launch the Settings Search dialog, type drive , and the system will return a host of related options. That is, not just those with “drive” in the name, but anything storage-related: BitLocker, Device Manager, backup tools, disk cleanup, and interesting new features like Storage Spaces.
This Search feature isn’t new, of course, but it’s easy to forget how useful this can be, especially when you’re trying to learn about a new operating system. So don’t just carry out specific searches, use the Apps search to look for general keywords such as “privacy” or “performance”, and you just might discover something new.
32. Start screen background
If you’d like to change your lock, user tile or start screen images then press Win + I, click “More PC settings” and choose the Personalize option. Browse the various tabs and you’ll be able to choose alternative images or backgrounds in a click or two. And in theory you’ll also be able to define apps that will display their status on the lock screen, although the app must specifically support this before it’ll be accessible from your Personalize settings.
33. Scheduled Maintenance
Windows 8 Consumer Preview will now run common maintenance tasks – software updates, security scanning, system diagnostics and more at a scheduled convenient time, which is good.
Unfortunately it doesn’t actually ask you what time is convenient, instead just setting it to 3am and allowing the system to wake your computer (if hardware and circumstances permit) to do its work. Which isn’t so good.
To change this, launch Control Panel, click System and Security > Action Centre > Maintenance. You can now click “Start maintenance” to launch any outstanding tasks right now, while selecting “Change maintenance settings” enables you to choose a more convenient time, and optionally disable the feature’s ability to wake up your computer if that’s not required.
34. Picture password
Windows 8 allows you to create a picture password, where you choose an image, then draw on it in a combination of taps, lines and circles – only someone who can reproduce this pattern will be able to log on. Select Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > Create a Picture Password to give this a try.
35. Hibernate or Sleep
You won’t necessarily see either Hibernate or Sleep in the Windows 8 shutdown dialogs, but if that’s a problem then you may be able to restore them.
Launch the Control Panel Power Options applet (powercfg.cpl) and click “Choose what the power buttons do” in the left-hand pane.
If you see a “Change settings that are current unavailable” link, then click it, and if Windows 8 detects that your PC supports Sleep and Hibernate options then they’ll be displayed here. Check the boxes next to whatever you’d like to use, click Save Changes, and the new options should now appear in your shutdown dialogs.
36. Simplify Search
By default Windows 8 includes every bundled app in its Search results. If you’ll never want to use some of these – the Store app, say – then select Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > Search, choose which apps you don’t want included, and your search list will be more manageable in future.
37. Touch Keyboard
By default the Touch Keyboard will try to help you out by, for instance, playing sounds as you type, capitalising the first letter of each sentence, adding a period if you double-tap the spacebar, and more. If any of this gets in your way, though, you can turn the relevant feature off: just go to Win + I > More PC Settings > Users > General and customise the keyboard to suit your needs.
38. Sync and privacy
One very useful Windows 8 feature is its ability to synchronise your settings with other PCs and devices. So if you’ve set up your new Windows Phone mobile with your contacts, email details etc, then use the same Live account on Windows 8 and it’ll import them for you: very convenient.
Of course that may not always be a good idea. If several people use a device then you may not want your website passwords to be synced, for instance. In which case you’ll want to hold down the Windows key and press I, then click More PC Settings > Sync Your Settings and disable anything which you’d rather not share.
39. Hiding the Ribbon
The latest incarnation of Windows Explorer uses a Microsoft Office-like ribbon interface. We think this is a reasonable move, and you should give the system a chance to see if you can get used to it, but if it just doesn’t appeal then a straightforward tweak will kill it forever.
Simply launch GPEdit.msc, browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Explorer, double-click “Start Windows Explorer with ribbon minimized” and click Enabled > OK. Restart Explorer and the ribbon now won’t be displayed by default. Click the Down arrow to the left of the Help icon if you’d like to see it.
40. Quick Access Toolbar
The latest Explorer features a Quick Access Toolbar immediately above the menu, providing easy access to options like “New Folder”, “Minimise”, “Undo” and more.
This is customisable, too – click the arrow to the right of the default buttons, in the Explorer window caption bar, and choose whatever options you need. And you can include add any other ribbon option on the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking it and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
41. Advanced menu options
If you need to run the command prompt as an Administrator then your instant reaction will probably be to reach for the Start menu. Before becoming annoyed a microsecond later when you remember it’s no longer there.
It’s good to see that Microsoft have provided a simple alternative, then – just click the File menu in Explorer and click Open command prompt > Open command prompt as administrator.
And while you’re there, make note of the other advanced new options also on that menu: you can open a new window in a new process, open Explorer, and even delete your Recent Places and Address Bar histories with a click.
42. Show all folders
The default Windows 8 Explorer view doesn’t show all the usual drives and folders – Control Panel, Recycle Bin and so on – in the left-hand navigation pane. It certainly keeps the display simple, and if you want to see all your drives then you can just click Computer, but if you prefer to see everything up-front then it only takes a moment. Click View > Options, check “Show all folders” and click OK.
43. Mount ISO files in Windows 8
Need to take a closer look at an ISO file? Right-click it in Explorer, click Mount and you can view it as a virtual drive, launch the files it contains, or add more if you like.
44. Open new file types
If you find a file type which none of your applications can handle, then we have some good news, and some bad.
The good news is that that the Explorer right-click Open With menu now has a “Look for an app in the Store” option, which sounds like the system will use some automated search tool to find and highlight an app for you.
The bad news is that it does nothing of the kind, right now at least – all that happens is the store opens and you’re left to browse its contents manually. A pity, but maybe this is a beta-related? The Store doesn’t yet have a manual keyword search function either, just yet – if one appears after some future update then check the Open With function again, just to see if it’s any more useful.
45. Restart Explorer
If Explorer locks up for some reason, then regaining control is now very easy. No need to close the process any more: simply press Ctrl+Alt+Esc, select Explorer in the list, click Restart and Windows 8 will handle the rest.
46. VirtualBox error
The safest way to sample Windows 8 CP is to install it on a VirtualBox virtual machine. It’s fairly easy to set up, there’s no need to worry about partitioning or other issues, and if it doesn’t work for whatever reason (which is possible, it’s a beta after all) then you’ll have lost nothing but a little time.
After completing your installation, though, you might find your virtual Windows 8 complaining that “Your PC needs to be repaired”. But despite telling you to “Press Enter to try again”, or “Press F8 for alternate boot options”, neither option works.
Fortunately there’s an easy answer. Close the Windows 8 window, select your virtual machine in VirtualBox, click Settings > System > Processor and check the “Enable PAE/NX” box. Click OK, restart your virtual machine and this time it should launch properly.
47. Metro apps won’t launch
You click a Metro app, and nothing else happens? Display issues are often the cause. In particular, Metro apps don’t currently support screen resolutions lower than 1024×768 (or 1366 x 768 when snapping), so increase your resolution if possible (launch the desktop, right-click, select Screen Resolution).
Or if that’s no help, try updating your video drivers.
48. Performance problems
If your Windows 8 system seems sluggish, the revamped task manager may be able to offer some clues. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to take a look.
The simplified Processes tab then reveals what’s currently using your CPU time, RAM, hard drive and network bandwidth. (The more in-depth data available in previous Task Manager versions is now accessible via the Details tab.)
The Performance tab gives you a graphical view of resource use over the last few seconds, while the App History dialog looks back over days or more to reveal which app is the most resource-hungry.
And is your boot time slow? Click the new Startup tab to see programs your system is launched when Windows boots. The “Startup impact” now shows how much of an effect each of these has on your boot time; if you spot high impact programs you’re sure you don’t need, then right-clicking them and selecting “Disable” will ensure they’re not loaded next time.
Powerful though all this is, if you can think of a reason to use the old Task Manager then it’s still accessible. Hold down the Windows key, press R, type TaskMGR and press Enter to launch it. (Typing TM will launch the new version.)
49. Device Manager Events
If you’ve a driver or hardware-related problem with Windows 8, launch Device Manager, browse to the relevant device, right-click it, select Properties and click the new Events tab. If Windows has installed drivers, related services or carried out other important actions on this device then you’ll now see them here, very useful when troubleshooting.
50. Recovery options
Windows 8 Consumer Preview has performed well for us, but if you find it won’t boot at some point then you now have to press Shift+F8 during the launch process to access its recovery tools.
Access the Troubleshoot menu, then Advanced Options and you’ll be able to try the Automatic Repair tool, which may fix your problems. No luck? The same menu enables you to use the last System Restore point, tweak key Windows Startup settings, even open a command prompt if you’d like to troubleshoot your system manually.
If that all seems like too much hassle then the Troubleshoot menu’s option to “Refresh your PC” may be preferable, as it essentially reinstalls Windows 8 but keeps your files, and will fix many issues.
But if it doesn’t then there’s always the more drastic “Reset your PC” option, which removes all your files and installs a fresh new copy of Windows 8.
You don’t have to access these features from the boot menu, of course. If Windows 8 starts but seems very unstable, then open the new Recovery applet in Control Panel for easy access to the Refresh, Reset and other disaster recovery features.