Windows 8 Tour: Lock, Login, And Start Menu - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile // Mobile Devices
02:29 PM

Windows 8 Tour: Lock, Login, And Start Menu

Check out Windows 8's new lock, login, and Start screens in this mini-tour.

Start Menu

Those familiar with Windows Phone will recognize the new Start Menu and Windows Live Tiles. Each tile is a shortcut to the associated program and is updated with notification information as new or updated data is received by the connected program. For instance, you can see continually updated weather information on the Weather Live Tile.


Getting Metro Apps to run can be a bit of a challenge on older or low-powered equipment, especially if you're using a netbook, or a screen that isn't set up for a resolution of at least 1024 pixels by 768 pixels. Metro App screens are static and not resizable below 1024 x 768, so if your screen is smaller than that and you can't force the resolution change, as I did, you might be out of luck. The Start Menu above is at 1024 x 768. The one below is at 1024 x 600.


If you're looking for the rest of your installed programs, and don't see them in a Live Tile, don't worry. The Start Menu can still get you there. Simply bring up the Start Menu and start typing the name of the application. Windows 8 will search your entire computer, matching all the executables to the characters you've typed. The count of the different matches will be displayed on the categories under the search field.


Related settings can be found by moving your cursor to the lower right corner while the Start Menu is displayed. This gives you access to specific Start Menu settings, help, and screen and volume settings. To access the Metro-styled Control Panel, click More PC settings.

So long, Start button

I like the new lock and login screens, and the fact that Windows 8 now synchronizes its experience via your Windows Live account. The latter is going to make moving from one PC to another, even temporarily, a lot smoother and a lot more familiar. I'm not keen on the Start button being replaced by a hot corner. Microsoft has had a Start button on its task bar since Windows 95. Changing this universal computing paradigm might not be the best of ideas.

BYTE technologist Serdar Yegulalp had this to say about Windows 8's new universal toolbar, called Charms: "I suspect on a desktop with multiple monitors they're going to be a lot less easy to work with. Multiple monitor setups often mean the corner or edge of a screen isn't in fact a corner or edge at all, but simply the gap between one display and the next. Proof positive that this is for tablets, not for desktops."

Serdar is right. Multiple monitors as currently implemented in Windows 7 and earlier extend the "edge" of the monitor screen over more than one physical display. This means that you have to move your cursor over to the right-most screen edge of the last monitor in your multi-display setup (or press Windows Key - C) in order to get Charms to display.

The Start Menu itself works very well on tablets, but fails miserably on the desktop. The tiles are touch-computing objects. Yes, you can click on them, but the experience doesn't translate well on non-touch-capable hardware. But I do like what Microsoft did with the Apps screen, and search. It makes finding the document, app or computing element, as well as interacting with your PC, a lot easier. Top marks there.

Come back tomorrow for a mini-tour of Windows 8's Metro UI and Metro Apps.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
2 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Why IT Leaders Should Make Cloud Training a Top Priority
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  4/14/2021
10 Things Your Artificial Intelligence Initiative Needs to Succeed
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/20/2021
Lessons I've Learned From My Career in Technology
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  5/4/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll