DACS General Meeting
Windows 8.1 — with Jay Ferron
By Joan Galligan
As a DOS user from the early days, I was excited when Windows arrived! After installing a mouse and a hard drive, and taking a few lessons, we were happily using Windows. Local high schools, computer stores, colleges, and public and private enterprises all held classes. (Charlie Bovaird ran a DACS Windows class that was great.) We were all on our way to an improved operating system which built upon itself with each intuitive upgrade, bar a couple, and got better and better. Decades passed.
And then there was the Touch Screen. Cell phones, iPhones, eReaders, Tablets, a lot of Mobile Devices with internet capabilities and different operating systems. They duplicate some of the uses we have for our laptops and they are easy to carry around. And they don’t need a mouse.
So Microsoft got a great idea. Why not make a Windows o/s that uses a touch screen. And they did. But I guess they thought that since most of us were using mobile devices with a touch screen, the transition would be seamless. It is not! There are not enough learning resources available for such a major transition. Fortunately we have Jay Ferron.
Most people would agree that the worst thing about adapting to Windows 8.1 is the missing Start button. We’re all creatures of habit. So, what to do? Immediately, freeware programs were developed to replace it. But then there’s that old expression, ‘If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.’ We’re all resistant to change. That is the dilemma.
As a longtime Windows user, when you start up your new Windows 8 PC, there is instant confusion. Rows and rows of icons, some familiar, some not, some moving; and although your mouse will open a program, without lessons you will not be able to close it, find your old programs, or do much else. Staples gave me a 30-minute one-on-one lesson, which raised more questions than it answered... even though it was an hour. :)
The tech made it look easy but when I got home, I was totally confused. I scoured the internet and found bits of information here and there, which I experimented with. Thanks to the Mobile Device/Windows SIG I’ve been able to exchange information with other Windows 8 users and I’m well on my way to an exciting experience.
The meeting with Jay Ferron was fantastic. It was like my intro lesson at Staples on steroids times 20. And the good news is that the new ‘Modern’ (not metro) Start Page, and the missing Start button are the best things ever to happen to Windows.
Because all Windows 8 files are indexed, you need only to start typing and a search will begin for whatever you need. It could be a program, control panel, your favorite game, Windows help, the C: drive, the documents folder, your HomeGroup....anything at all. You don’t need to remember the folder it’s in or the correct spelling. The search engine is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Just think of how many mouse clicks that saves. Start button? You’ll never want to use it again.
Every program you install creates an icon. You choose whether or not to have each icon appear on the startup Modern Page. Icons on your Modern Page stay there by your choice and they can be removed, rearranged, resized, and put into groups right there.
You can also see the title & icon of every program on your PC, in alphabetical order, with the click of a down-arrow.
Your familiar desktop is still there and can be accessed from the Modern page. You can open your old programs from the desktop, if you’d rather; but that’s two steps instead of one. Once the desktop is opened, you can toggle to and from the Modern page by pressing the Windows logo key from either the keyboard or the bottom left of the desktop icon tray.
The thing that really blew my mind was when Jay demonstrated that the Windows 8 operating system is a memory manager with the ability to manage multiple tasks. TRY THIS AT HOME: Open 5 or 6 programs. Then open Task Manager and see that it shows them all, but the CPU is not doing anything. Applications you are not using sleep automatically, leaving memory free for the program you are using. This redesign in Windows 8 makes it the fastest task manager using the least resources.
I left the meeting really excited to continue my Windows 8 adventure. Up until now I’ve been running my old and new PCs side by side, moving apps as I go. Now I keep looking for new Windows 8 features on my Window 7 PC. My next challenge is changing from POP to IMAP and setting up my email.
On a personal note, I saved $100 by not getting the touch screen. I can’t wrap my mind around leaving the keyboard to touch the screen yet.
There are so many more things we learned from Jay Ferron. I hope he comes again soon. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing knowledge at the Mobile Device/Windows 8 SIG, which meets every 4th Monday at the DACS Resource Center.