Why the Windows 8 Start Screen is better than old fashioned menus

As a Systems Administrator I am often an early adopter of technology. But not with Windows 8. I didn’t like it when I first saw it and I didn’t like it when I first tried it.

Let me tell you why I was wrong.

When Windows 8 was first released in preview, I had many tech co-workers who immediately upgraded so I got to see a lot of Windows 8 very early. I saw a lot of it being cumbersome, I saw a lot of it being the antithesis of intuitive and, therefore, I saw a lot of it working poorly.

Eventually, I upgraded, but only because I had to. After all, I would not be able to do my job well and support my clients and end-users unless I did. And it only took me about a week to truly start hating it. That is, until I realized that I was the problem, not the Windows 8 OS.

My problem was the same as everyone I have seen since. I have this 20th century understanding of how to interact with computers. How will I ever be able to find or open my documents, apps, or webpages if their icons are not neatly arranged in some kind of menu, some well-planned list of folders, or at least cluttered all over my desktop? I’m going to have to search for everything…

Eureka!

If you are like me:

  • You have files that you need to access scattered all over the place.
  • You have at least one email account, probably several.
  • You have local files in My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, etc.
  • You may have stuff out on the web in a site like SharePoint, OneDrive, or Drop Box.
  • You certainly have multiple web sites that you visit regularly and you are using a Google or a Bing type of search engine to constantly find new things.
  • You have work folders, LOTS of work folders. All neatly “organized” by company, department or role and, usually, nested (again, “organized”) within other folders, arranged by year, function, or some other structure. All of this "organization" has been developed over decades by a myriad of transient people, using highly questionable variations of logic, that you can only surmise they must have learned from the backs of a Cracker Jack boxes.

Your computer screen will never be big enough for a menu or desktop that could hold all the icons for all the stuff you need access to. Never, ever. So what is a person to do? Browse? Well, that’s what we’ve been doing, haven’t we? Lots of manual browsing. We browse for everything. Sometimes quickly but often not. Have you ever browsed so long for a file that you just gave up and created a new one? I have. And now you have redundant, and probably inconsistent, data in two files that you won’t be able to find next time either.

This is why Windows 8 is better. Just hit the Windows Key on your keyboard, type a keyword that you are looking for, and presto! Your file, app, or web content will appear in a list on the right. No more endless browsing, continuous menu scrolling, or cluttering of the desktop. This is not magic but merely the hardware/software technology finally getting up to a sufficient speed to allow true Cloud computing.

Why the Windows 8 Start Screen is better than old fashioned menus 1

Now, in your present environment, this likely comes with caveats. And those caveats depend on how much you have embraced, and how you understand Cloud computing. See the bullet list above? You are already Cloud computing. You are using a Hybrid Cloud model. Some of your content is local (Private Cloud) while some is on the web somewhere (Public Cloud). So, without going into that whole discussion, let me put it this way: with properly configured Windows 2012 R2 Servers and Windows 8 Operating Systems, your Private Cloud is just as searchable, to you, as anything on the web. Additionally, the more you embrace Public Cloud technologies like Office 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive, the more seamless and efficient your environment and your searching will become. The technology has reached a point that it does not matter “where” anything is anymore (at least from your Desktop's perspective).

So get yourself in this habit and let it be the first thing you show any new Windows 8 user:

  1. Hit the Windows key on your Keyboard.
  2. Type what you want to find.
  3. Hit the Windows key repeatedly to switch back and forth, from finding to working.
  4. The more you use this, the faster and more accurate the system gets in searching. It learns.

Furthermore, with the Windows 10 release coming this year, voice searching with Cortana is built right in, so you won’t even have to hit the Windows key anymore. This is the future of computing and it is better, easier, and far more efficient. I recommend embracing it now. It will only help you better understand, accept, and embrace what cloud computing can be and make your day a bit easier.

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