The New Start Screen
It's also easy to customize. I've set up an account for my kids and only put tiles up for programs they use. Their start screen is a lot more sparse than mine but they know how to find their stuff and they don't get into my stuff. That is truly awesome.
Also, for the applications you don't put on your start screen, just start typing and the start screen turns into a search screen. You can search your applications, your settings, your documents, or even within some applications. It's all right there!
The New ControlsThe new controls take a bit more getting used to. Some are quite easy (the windows key toggles between the start screen and the desktop) and others are a bit more complicated (you click and drag down to close a non-desktop app). Over all, though, they are pretty easy to get used to once you spend a bit of time with them. However, it would be helpful if Microsoft published a list of keyboard shortcuts and mouse commands. Here are the ones I use the most:
- Windows key: toggle between start screen and desktop
- Windows key + c: brings up the Charms bar (which has search, settings, etc. on it)
- Windows key + l: locks the screen
The New Internet ExplorerMicrosoft created a bit of a headache here for me. Internet Explorer has two flavors - the desktop and the tablet versions. Unfortunately, which one you get depends on what application calls it or where you select it from. By default if you select it from the start screen, you get the tablet version. If you select it from the desktop, you get the desktop version. This can be frustrating sometimes.
As a desktop user, I don't see the point of the tablet version. So I went into internet options -> programs and selected to always use the desktop version. That cleared up that issue.
Other than that, the new IE is fast and easy to use. It's a good update.
Tablet ApplicationsThe other new thing is that Windows 8 supports/encourages what I call tablet apps. I believe the official term is Windows 8 applications (it used to be Metro apps) but really they are apps designed for tablets. The rules for these apps are different than for desktop applications. You use the Charms bar (Windows key+c) for settings/preferences/search and the interaction is more based on touch than on a mouse. Once again, it's not difficult to learn but it does take some getting used to.
On the bright side, there are some really fun apps that my kids really like. Things like Cut the Rope, Physamajig, Pirates Love Daisies, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, etc. These were all free in the consumer preview but are not free now. However, they're pretty inexpensive and have trial versions so you can test them out.