Windows 8 has been a hot topic of late – especially getting started with it. We already had a post from our very own Denis Gobo (@denisgobo) in how to shut down Windows 8. This led me to write a quick post on some features you may or may not know of.

Windows 8 has a great design for touch screens, and some great shortcuts for the PC User as well. I’ve been using it since Consumer Preview and to be honest – it did take a week or so to get used to the new interface. There are one or two tricks, that when you know them, make it a lot easier to work with as a PC User.

To start of with, I am going to talk a bit about charms. Charms is the new “navigation” for Windows 8 – it appears on the right hand side whenever you move your mouse to either the top right, or bottom right corners of the screen.

This will bring up the following:

In order they are:

  1. Search

  2. Share

  3. Windows 8 UI

  4. Devices

  5. Settings

There is one thing about charms which is a very subtle yet powerful feature… it is context sensitive! Depending which application is active, will depend what charms enables you to do. Some of you might have downloaded the Wikipedia app (for example) from the store; good looking, side scrolling; so how do you search? With the charms menu, just open it up and search whatever you’re looking for. For those of you which lives in a suffocated broadband area like me – this is also where you go to limit the amount of data which live tiles uses in the Win8UI (this however is only from RTM onwards).

Another handy feature is Flip-2D – better known as the 3D Aero flip in Windows Vista/7. This is done by moving your mouse to the top left corner of the screen, or pressing WIN + Tab.

It looks similar to this:

When it is fully expanded it will look like this (this one is cropped, at the bottom you will have the link to the Win8UI):

A big question would be why to use this one instead of ALT + Tab? While ALT + Tab cycles through both the desktop apps and your Win8 apps, the WIN + Tab allows you to select an individual application and pin it either side of your screen directly if you do not want to close your active application. Apart from this, the only other difference is that it does not cycle through desktop applications.

The last quick feature is the poweruser menu, which is accessible by right clicking on the Win8UI shortcut on the bottom left of the screen:

This gives you quick access to control panel, command line, etc. which is very useful.

The last most notable feature is Hyper-V which is available in Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise editions, with the limit being an x64 edition with a SLAT capable CPU. This is very handy especially when you build and destroy multiple virtual machines and do not want to install a Server edition on your Computer/Laptop or if you do not have access to a separate virtual environment. This is enabled via the add/program features.

One last shortcut that I find extremely useful when working with SQL Server Data Tools, Management Studio, etc. is CTRL + Shift. When holding these two keys and launching an application from Win8UI, this immediately launches the application in Administrator Mode.

If there is any features you find handy, feel free to leave a comment.