25th Sep 2012
Windows 8 is just around the corner. While we will have to wait a few more months to use the final version, we do have the free-to-try Release Preview of the OS at hand, which is said to be almost as good as the retail release. The OS sports a radical new interface, with a Start screen instead of the Start button. With the advent of touchscreen devices, it was inevitable that this new platform would be heavily optimised for tactile use. However, those of you who prefer the old-school way of doing things (using the keyboard and mouse) need not worry, because it is possible to perform every task using both methods. I got a chance to play around with the touch interface on a Windows 8 tablet during the TechEd Europe 2012 event and got to try out these techniques, which have been explained here.
Show System Commands
While designing Windows 8, Microsoft seems to have paid attention to how a user holds the tablet and the quickest way to access the touchscreen. Users can simply swipe their finger on the edges of the screen to activate various functions. For example, to bring up system commands, all you need to do is to swipe inwards from the right edge. You can then view the Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings icons in the drawer that slides out.
Via Keyboard: <WINKEY> + <C> (WINKEY is the Windows logo key on the keyboard)
Via Mouse: Point to the upper or lower right corner of the screen.
Cycle Between Running Applications
If you have several applications running simultaneously, you can easily switch between them by swiping your finger inwards from the left, as if turning the pages of a book. Swiping slightly inwards and then going back will bring out a drawer of sorts, with thumbnails of all the running applications. You can then choose an icon by tapping on it.
Via Keyboard: <ALT> + <TAB>
Via Mouse: Point to the upper left corner of the screen to reveal the previous app; move the cursor a little down to reveal the app drawer.
Open App Bar
The app bar in Windows 8 is basically the same as the Metro UI version of the application menu from Windows 7. Swipe inwards from the bottom or top edges to open the app bar.
Via Keyboard: <WINKEY> + <Z>
Via Mouse: Right-click anywhere on the Start screen.
View Context Menu
In order to view more information about any item in Windows, press and hold its icon to view its context menu.
Via Keyboard: <CONTEXT MENU> (the one between <WINKEY> and <CTRL> on the right of the keyboard. Alternatively, press <SHIFT> + <F10>)
Via Mouse: Right-click on the item.
Zoom In And Out
You can zoom in and out simply by pinching in and out on the screen. This is especially useful when you have a long list of apps on the Start screen and want to quickly go to a particular offscreen app.
Via Keyboard: <CTRL> + <MINUS> \ <PLUS> (Zoom out \ in)
Via Mouse: Press the <CTRL> key while scrolling the mousewheel to zoom in and out.
Swipe down from the top edge to the bottom edge to close an application.
Via Keyboard: <ALT> + <F4>
Via Mouse: Move the mouse to the top edge of the screen. Once it turns into a hand cursor, drag the app to the lower edge to close it.
Scrolling Sideways On The Start Screen
Swipe across sideways to navigate to the left or right.
Via Keyboard: <LEFT> \ <RIGHT>
Via Mouse: Move the mouse pointer to the bottom edge to reveal the scrollbar.
You are likely to use the above gestures the most, and they are enough to get you sailing through Windows 8. Give them a try and let us know about your experience.
Guide: How To Use Touch Gestures On Windows 8
Also, how to perform the same tasks with just the keyboard and mouse.
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