What’s New in Windows 8? - dummies

What’s New in Windows 8?

By Andy Rathbone

You may have worked with earlier versions of Microsoft Windows. If so, toss away that hard-earned knowledge because Windows 8 starts from scratch. Why? Because Windows 8 tries to please two camps of computer owners.

See, some people are mostly consumers. They read e-mail, watch videos, listen to music, and browse the web, often while away from their desktop PC. Whether on the go or on the couch, they’re consuming media (and popcorn).

Other people are mostly creators. They write papers, prepare tax returns, update blogs, edit videos, or, quite often, tap whichever keys their boss requires that day.

To please both markets, Microsoft broke Windows 8 into two very different sections:

  • Start screen: For the on-the-go information grabbers, the Windows 8 Start screen fills the entire screen with large, colorful tiles that constantly update to show the latest stock prices, weather, e-mail, Facebook updates, and other tidbits. That information appears before you touch a button. And touch is a keyword: The Start screen works best with a touchscreen monitor or tablet.

  • Desktop tile: When it’s time for work, head for the Start screen’s desktop tile. The traditional Windows desktop appears, bringing all its power — as well as its detailed, cumbersome menus.


Some people like the convenience of having both types of computers built into one. Others find the two experiences to be oddly disjointed.

  • In a way, Windows 8 offers the best of both worlds: You can stay on the Start screen for quick, on-the-go browsing. And when work beckons, you can head for the desktop, where your traditional Windows programs await.

  • The catch is that the Windows desktop no longer contains the traditional Start button and the Start menu that sprouted from the corner. Instead, you must retreat to the new, Start screen. To open a program, click or tap a program’s tile from the Start screen, and Windows shuffles you back to the desktop, where the newly opened program awaits.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.