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Windows 8 Consumer Preview cracked 1 million downloads shortly after launching last Wednesday and I'm sure many of you have tried it already. Whether you went with a dual-boot, upgrade, clean install or virtual machine, if you're coming from Windows 7 you'll notice significant changes immediately, while others may not be as obvious.
Inevitably, with change comes good and bad -- at least until you learn some tricks that get you back up to speed. I know I've been hitting my head against the wall when things don't behave the way they used to. The Start menu's absence is a perfect example of a radical change. Indeed, the duality of the OS may bring some trouble, but as skeptical as I was, I must admit Microsoft has done a pretty good job of easing many of my concerns.
Metro is undoubtedly very touch-oriented and perhaps a beginner's dream come true. For experienced users, it seems like Windows 8 still holds some promise. The devil is in the details, they say, so besides experimenting with a clean install I tried the upgrade option to see how well it worked. Going from a year-old Windows 7 install to the Consumer Preview was as seamless as you could ask for.
File copy dialogs, the task manager and search look better and work faster, and that adds up for an improved experience. I'm not loving Metro on my desktop since there's little I can currently do with the stock apps, but I wonder if that will be true once my most-used programs take full advantage of live tiles.
Without further ado, here's a shortlist of Windows 8 shortcuts and useful quick tricks I've gathered thus far.
The Start menu is no longer there, but there's a hot corner that makes up for it (unfortunately on multiple screens it's somewhat of a pain to use).
Windows 8 is very hotkey-heavy, here are some of the shortcuts I find most useful:
Following user posts in our previous Windows 8 articles, I've seen some of you wanting to completely get rid of Metro and get the Windows 7 orb back. If that's the case I'd personally recommend you just stick to Windows 7, but if you already jumped ship there's a trick to do so as discussed on AskVG.
Updated: A second, improved alternative The clever folks at Stardock have released a piece of software called Start 8 that essentially adds a Start button to Windows 8's desktop mode. When you click on it you get a Metro-esque Start menu from where you can search and access other settings.
As we've seen on older betas, Windows 8 CP shows a wallpaper watermark indicating it's not a final build. The lock screen or Metro UI don't have any similar nagging reminder, and spending a majority of my time in the desktop mode, the message is tacky to say the least. Here's a solution I found circulating on a few forums:
Drivers Windows 8 won't suffer the same fate Vista did with drivers. Most Windows 7 drivers will work just fine with the new OS. Nvidia advised GeForce owners to use the readily available 295.73 driver set, while AMD decided to release new Radeon drivers for the Consumer Preview.
Recalling storage space after setup Your mileage may vary with a Windows 7 upgrade. It worked great for me but remember this is still beta software. Anyway, if you upgraded you may want to restore files from the Windows.old directory which contains data from your older OS installation and other files used during the setup using the Disk Cleanup tool. Reminder #2: If you upgrade, you can't revert back to Windows 7.
Upgrading to Windows 8 Windows 8 will offer a complete upgrade option from Windows 7, but the same won't be possible if you are using Vista or XP (or the current Consumer Preview for that matter). System requirements for Windows 8 are essentially the same as Windows 7 (which were similar to Vista), so most semi-modern hardware will run it just fine.
Metro notifications, turning some of those off Windows 8 encourages you to use a Microsoft account so you can take advantage of neat features like SkyDrive or syncing your OS settings across multiple PCs. However, it will also activate other things like the Messaging Metro app, which looks good, but becomes a nag if you are using a different IM client like Trillian or Pidgin. Windows 8 uses notifications that resembles those of Growl on OS X. You can fully manage, and deactivate the Messenger app notifications from the Settings menu.
That's it for now. Did we miss anything important? Have a Windows 8 how-to question? Let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to come up with a solution.
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