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Maximize your first 30 minutes with Windows 8

Loyd Case | Oct. 30, 2012
You've successfully installed Windows 8. You're staring at the Start screen, in all its flat-tiled glory, and it all seems completely alien based on your previous experience with Windows.

Video

The Video app is another Xbox labeled app, and just another storefront for buying video. Windows Media Player can handle video playback, but Microsoft no longer includes an MPEG-2 playback license. For this reason, you'll need to download Windows Media Center ($9.99 if you're a standard Windows 8 user, free for Windows 8 Pro users.)

SkyDrive

The SkyDrive app lets you access your SkyDrive content. It's not nearly as flexible as the SkyDrive desktop application, with its associated folder. But this app is slick looking.

Bottom line

By now, you're probably past your first 30 minutes with Windows 8. There's a lot more to learn, but much of what you learned with Windows 7 still applies. Take the desktop, for example. Sure, the classic Start menu is gone, but the Simple Start menu (Windows-X) should ease some of the pain of finding system-level programs.

The taskbar on the desktop works as before, too. You can drop any desktop application (though not Windows 8 apps from the Microsoft Store) onto the taskbar, just as you did in Windows 7. Also, the task manager has been enhanced, and you can now set up your startup items there.

But I digress--those are things to do in your subsequent use of Windows 8. Right now, you've gotten familiar with basic navigation, you've set up networking, and you've created user accounts. There's more to learn, but that alien feeling you first experienced when starting at the active tiles in the Start menu should be fading. It's your PC, so take control.

 

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