Life with Windows 8 Begins

Took the plunge to update Windows 8. The upgrade from an install of Windows 7 took about 3 hours total, and preserved all my Windows 7 applications.

A List of Some Apps to Check Out

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Microsoft Store isn’t so great at application discover at the moment.

  • General (some of these are region specific, US/UK)
    • Reddit To Go! – fully featured Reddit reader
    • News Bento – excellent RSS news feed reader
    • NBC News
    • BBC News
    • Al Jazeera
    • Reuters Video news
    • News Republic
    • Appy Geek
    • Engadget
    • TG Daily
    • XE Exchange
    • Allrecipes
    • Urbanspoon
    • Skitch
    • FlightAware
    • TuneIn Radio
    • EBay
    • Wikipedia
    • Skype
  • Canadian apps
    • CBC news
    • CTV news
    • TSN
    • Canoe
  • Chinese (for international Chinese users, anyway)
    • Baidu FM
    • PPTV
    • PPStream
    • Doumi music
    • Hong Kong Toolbar
    • MagV
  • Christian
    • Holy Bible Reader
    • Bible by YouVersion

Post-Upgrade Problems and Resolutions

  • Google Chrome was having issues, and I had to upgrade to beta to resolve the quirks the metro version had. I’m currently on 23.0.1271.52 beta-m, which doesn’t have a separate desktop and metro mode. Google talk plugin didn’t work, and my tabs were freezing up.
  • Foobar2000 (I was on 1.0 something) also didn’t migrate over successfully. I had to reinstall it from scratch.
  • Thinkpad X200T specific problem: camera

Tips and Tricks

Here are some notes I took for using Windows 8, beyond the usual stuff

  • Quick Logon with pin password – Microsoft forces you to log into a Live account to use many of its services, such as the app store. This forces you to have a password on your account, and I haven’t found a way around this yet. However, if you setup a ‘Pin’ password, the logon process is pretty fast. If you set a single number password (0000, for example), you can just hold ‘0’ at the logon screen, and you will logon automatically.
  • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Win+Tab – metro app switcher (where desktop is treated as a single app)
    • Win+C – charms panel
    • Win+D – go to desktop
    • Win+I – settings panel
    • Win+Q – searches apps (or pulls up the app specific search)
    • Win+W – searches settings
    • Win+F – searches files
    • Win+X – administration menu
    • Win+T – bring up desktop view, bring up the task bar, and toggle through items there
    • Win+B – bring up the notification tray in desktop view (I haven’t really found a good use for this yet tbo)
  • Quickly launch any app
    • Bring up the start panel, start typing the name of the app, and press enter
  • Windows Update
    • any actual update is still configured through the desktop mode control panel one. The Metro style windows update is very limited and doesn’t let you do anything except for update checking. If you want to install anything, you need to run the one from the control panel in desktop mode.
  • SSD settings to check
    • Disk defrag schedule was still enabled on my upgrade install, so remember to check this
    • even with drive indexing off, Windows Indexing was still running. You need to turn the service off completely.
    • Intel SSD toolbox also recommended that superfetch needed to be turned off
    • Hybrid boot is not necessary ideal for SSD life. Also called fast startup.
  • UAC
    • You can still turn this off without ill effects, because this is still pretty annoying
  • Windows Smartscreen
    • If you don’t like the idea of sending off data to Microsoft every time you install something, keep this off
  • Video playback support
    • Most versions of Windows 8 do not come with codecs. CCCP and VLC are good alternatives for video playback, and still work fine
  • Solid color lockscreen backgrounds
    • To achieve this, you need aa picture with a solid color. Microsoft hasn’t really made this easy.

Accessing Worldwide Apps

I’ve got quite some apps installed right now. The most important thing to know regarding this is that the apps available are dependent on the region you select, which you can change from the Region applet in Control Panel.

Most apps are available in the United States. Canada and the United Kingdom might be of interest of you depending. For Chinese users, remember to look at China and Taiwan as well.