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What’s New In Windows 8 Desktop, Start Search, And Start Screen [Review]

Windows 8 comes with a huge array of new features, Metro UI-based elements, Metro Full Screen Apps, and many other improvements. Amongst all the UI-related enhancements, native utilities and features, Windows 8 Desktop, Metro Start Screen and Windows 8 Search are the most significant. These Windows UI elements have been totally revamped with new metro look, accompanied by some new and interesting features. In this post, we will excavate deep into features that these major Windows 8 elements have to offer.Windows-8-Start-Search-&-Screen


This guide is a part of our series on detailed coverage of Windows 8 New Features and Improvements.

  1. How To Install Windows 8 On VirtualBox
  2. What’s New In Windows 8 Desktop, Start Search, And Start Menu (Currently Viewing)
  3. The Complete Guide To Windows 8 Explorer, New Ribbon Tools And Options
  4. The Complete Guide To Windows 8 Task Manager, New Features And Options
  5. Windows 8 PC Settings [Complete Guide]
  6. How To Refresh Or Reset Your Windows 8 PC [Complete Guide]
  7. All About Windows 8 FileName Collisions And Copy/Move Dialog Box
  8. The Complete Guide To Windows 8 Startup Menu
  9. Sync Windows 8 User Settings Between PCs & Tablets via Windows Live ID
  10. Quick Overview Of Windows Lock Screen
  11. The Complete Guide To Windows 8 File History Backup

Windows 8 Desktop

In contrast to Windows 7, which loads desktop after booting the system or shows login screen (if enabled), Windows 8 greets users with the newly designed Metro Start Screen. Inspired from Windows Phone 7 Metro UI, the Windows 8 Start Menu displays a list of default and custom metro tiles, which act as a shortcuts to Desktop, Control Panel, Windows Explorer, Weather app, RSS, Windows App Store, Internet Explorer, and other installed applications. To launch the desktop, click the Desktop tile, present underneath Video tile.

One thing which you will immediately notice when you open Windows 8 desktop is that there is no Windows Start Orb. When you hover mouse pointer over the bottom-left corner of the screen, it shows the thumbnail preview of Start Screen. Clicking this thumbnail takes you directly to Windows 8 Start Screen, allowing you to launch Metro apps and pinned applications, and Windows Explorer shortcuts.

Windows 8 Desktop has a lot of hidden UI elements, which can only be seen with their associated application and functions. For instance, when you plug-in an external storage device, you will see a revamped, new storage device found, metro-based auto-run pop-menu over system notification area. It lets you open the folder, use the device to speed up the system via ReadyBoost, or configure drive for backup.

desktop elements

Windows 8 Desktop view and Metro Start Screen let you open Charms bar – a right-side bar menu that gives system-wide access to Search, Sharing, System Settings and Basic Actions. Just move you mouse pointer to bottom- or top-right corner of the screen, or use Windows+C hotkey combination to access the charms bar. It also shows the current time, day, date, internet status and battery level at bottom-right side of the screen.

Windows 8 Settings pane (accessible from Charms bar), contains not only power button options, such as, Shutdown, Restart, Sleep etc, but also many shortcuts to system-related settings including, Network, Volume, Notifications, Screen Brightness, Power, and Notifications.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Windows 8 Desktop is Switch List (accessible from the left sidebar), which is by default hidden, but when you hover mouse pointer over top-left corner, it shows all active Metro apps. This left sidebar makes it easy to quickly navigate between all applications running in the background.

Windows-8-Switch-List

Windows 8 Start Search

Like Windows 8 Desktop Settings pane, Start Search can also be accessed from charms bar. It contains some pre-defined categories like, Apps, Settings, and Files, along with a list of installed applications to help you quickly find and launch an application.

scrns (3)

Unlike Windows 7 search, which shows results in Windows Explorer when Enter key is pressed, Windows 8 Search extends the Search pane to whole screen area, allowing you to view filtered search items from pre-defined, as well as, custom search categories. Apart from opening files/folders, and launching applications, you can right-click the application to run the application as administrator, open new window, open file location, and Pin to Taskbar and Start Screen.

desktop screen

In order to perform online search, you need to sign in with Microsoft account. Just enter the keywords you want to search and hit Enter key to let Windows Search fetch results from online sources. However, you can view Bing search results for specified search keywords by clicking Internet Explorer.

Windows 8 Start Screen

If you were to pick and bring together all the important Windows 8 system components along with Windows Explorer, Desktop, Installed application, Task Manager, widgets, etc, under a unified interface, you’d end up having Windows 8 Start Screen in front of you. Windows 8 Start Menu is designed keeping the need to access your PCs different elements without having to open multiple Windows Explorer windows. By default, it contains Internet Explorer, Desktop, Windows Explorer, built-in full screen application shortcuts, Task Manager, Computer, and other numerous widgets, you can pin as many applications, folders, shortcuts, custom widgets as you want to Windows 8 Start Screen.

Like Windows Phone 7 native application launcher, it lets you change position of application tiles; just hold the tile which is to be repositioned, and then drag it over the required area of the screen (see our detailed guide on modifying tile behavior). The scroll bar present at the bottom will help you navigate through the Windows 8 Start Menu interface. When you click User Tile, it will let you log off, lock the screen, add new user and change the user tile from personalization window, where you can change picture, change color, and apply other customizations.

log out


That’s it for now. The features and options related to Windows 8 Desktop, Start Search, and Start Menu will not only help you manage Windows 8 Desktop apps and Metro-based Full-Screen applications, but also access system utilities and settings. We’ve tried to cover the most salient aspects of Start Screen, Search and Desktop. If you think that there is a feature worth adding to the list, let us know in comments.

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