Windows 8 Start Screen

Windows 8 uses a new touch-based interface with colored tiles that are shortcuts to programs and live widgets that report data from those programs. However, the Windows desktop is still there. You can switch between the Windows 8 Start Screen and the traditional Windows desktop to fit your needs.

Click the Plus (Plus Sign) sign next to each of the following topics to learn more about Windows 8 features:

What is a Microsoft User Account?What is a Microsoft User Account?

A Microsoft account is the email address and password that you use to sign in to Windows. Microsoft recommends you choose the email address you currently use to communicate with friends and sign in to your favorite websites.

When you sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account, you’ll connect your PC to places like Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter, SkyDrive, Flickr and LinkedIn.  Your personal settings are synced to any PC running Windows 8 that you sign in to, including your themes, language preferences, browser favorites, and apps.

If you've already installed Windows 8 and didn't sign in with a Microsoft account or you don't have a Microsoft account and want to get one, follow these steps:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen or press the Windows (Windows 8 keyboard key) + C key to open the charms bar, and then click Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down to the Settings charm, and then click on it to open.)

  2. Click Change PC settings.

  3. Click Users.

  4. Click Switch to a Microsoft account.

The Windows 8 Start screenThe Windows 8 Start screen

Click the Plus signs (Plus Sign) below to learn more about the new Windows 8 user interface known as the Start screen.

Learning about the Start screenLearning about the Start screen

The functions of the Windows Start button have been replaced with a new Start screen - colored tiles that are shortcuts to programs and live widgets that report data from those programs. For example, on the Weather app, you can see the current temperature and forecast. On the Mail app, you can see how many unread email messages you have and view reminders for upcoming events.

Figure 1
: Windows 8 Start screen


The new Start screen gives you a larger desktop by expanding the borders left and right. This allows you to organize your apps into groups so you can see all of them. To navigate through the Start screen, either click and drag on the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen and then move the screen left or right, or swipe your finger left or right across the screen.

Figure 2
: Scrolling through the Start screen


Customizing the Start screenCustomizing the Start screen

You can customize your Start screen by changing the name or appearance of a group of tiles, and then organize your Start Screen by creating new groups for frequently used or similar apps.

  1. To create a new group, select a tile, drag it to an open space, and drop it. You can have many groups on the Start screen. Scroll right or left to see your groups by clicking and dragging the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen.

    Figure 1: Select and drag a tile


  2. To change the order of your groups, first reduce the size of your groups. Click the zoom button in the lower right corner of the screen, or hold down the Ctrl key and turn the mouse wheel. Then drag your groups into the new order.

    Figure 2: The zoom button


  3. To name a group, while in the zoomed view, right-click the group you want to name. Then in the lower left corner, click Name group.

    Figure 3: Click Name Group and then type name


  4. In the Name box, type a name for the group, and then click Name.

  5. Click anywhere on the screen to return to the normal view. The new name for the group displays.

    Figure 4: Start screen with new group name


What happened to the Desktop?What happened to the Desktop?

The traditional Windows desktop is still there, though it may be different than what you're used to.

From the Start screen, click the Start button in the lower-left corner. The Windows Desktop will appear.

Figure 1: The Windows 8 Start button


You can jump back to the Start screen by pressing the Windows (Windows 8 keyboard key) key or by clicking the Start button (Windows_8.1_StartButton).

Using the Windows 8 Lock screenUsing the Windows 8 Lock screen

The Lock screen (also called the Welcome screen) covers the sign-in screen and displays the date and time, as well as notifications for email, calendar, and other apps. You can customize the lock screen by changing the picture and choosing which apps display notifications.

The lock screen can display the following information:

  • Date and time in the lower left corner.

  • Network and power connection status icons.

  • Detailed status from the calendar app (by default).

  • Status updates such as new messages from apps such as Messaging and Mail.

    NOTE: If you are leaving your computer, press the Windows (Windows 8 keyboard key) + L key to bring up the lock screen and protect your data.

Figure 1: Windows Lock Screen


Signing into Windows 8Signing into Windows 8

To close the lock screen and sign in to the computer, use one of the following methods:

  • Tap the space bar

  • Spin the mouse wheel

  • Swipe upwards on a touch screen

    NOTE: If you are leaving your computer, press the Windows (Windows 8 keyboard key)+ L key to bring up the lock screen and protect your data.

Figure 1: Windows 8 sign-in screen


On the sign-in screen, type in your password. Then click the arrow to start Windows.

Customizing the Lock screenCustomizing the Lock screen
  1. Press the Windows (Windows 8 keyboard key) + C key. The charms menu opens to the right of the screen.

  2. Click Settings.

    Figure 1: Charms Bar


  3. Click Change PC settings, and then click Lock screen.

    Figure 2: Selecting the Lock screen


  4. You can change the picture by choosing one of the pictures available, or you can browse your computer for a picture.

    Figure 3: Changing the Lock screen picture


  5. You can also view a slide show on the Lock screen. Move the slider to the On position, and then select a picture source.

    Figure 4: Play a slide show on the Lock screen


  6. In the Lock screen apps area, you can choose which app you want to run in the background to provied status and notifications.
    You can also use the camera (a front-facing monitor camera or separate web-cam is required) from the Lock screen. Move the slider to On to activate this feature.

    Figure 5: Turn on the camera in the Lock screen



Where is Windows Media Center?Where is Windows Media Center?
Windows Media Center is included in specific versions of Windows 8 and available to all Windows 8 users as an upgrade from Microsoft.  When installed, Windows Media Center is located as a tile on the Start screen. Click here for more information about Media Center in Windows 8.
Where is Windows Movie Maker or DVD Maker?Where is Windows Movie Maker or DVD Maker?
Windows Movie Maker for Windows 8 is included in Windows Live Essentials. Click here to get Windows Movie Maker and for more information about creating DVDs and movies in Windows 8.
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