The 2 Faces of Windows 8.1 - dummies

By Woody Leonhard

As you undoubtedly know by now, Windows 8.1 has two faces. They’re designed to work together. You can be the judge of how well they live up to the design. The first face you see when you start Windows is the tiled Start screen.


This is the Start screen because it’s identified in various places (not the least of which is on the screen itself) as “Start” and, uh, well, it’s a screen. Microsoft used to call the style used here “Metro,” but an apparent conflict with the name has led it to an oblique reference to its tiled interface. Most of the Windows world still calls it Metro.


The Windows 7style or old-fashioned desktop version of Windows 8.1 looks almost exactly like the Windows 7 desktop, except the Start button in the lower-left corner looks different. In fact, if you couldn’t see the lower-left corner, you’d be very hard-pressed to tell the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 desktops apart.

Microsoft uses the term “legacy” to describe programs that run on the old-fashioned desktop — thus, for example, legacy Control Panel or legacy Office — but there doesn’t seem to be an official name for this desktop.

Legacy, in Microsoft-ese means “something that it supports because it has to, but will drop it like a hot potato as soon as it can.” That’s an important lesson for you folks who have some experience with Windows. The Windows programs you know and have sworn at for years are now “legacy” programs — in official parlance.