Surviving the Windows 8 Transition

Windows 8 is finally here!  Since I’ve been using it for the last 6 months or so, I thought I’d explain a few things I had to figure out before I could really get into the operating system and fall in love.  So I thought I’d run through a few of those things for you, to help you ease the learning curve associated with migrating to Windows 8.  If you haven’t gotten your copy of Windows 8 yet, let me first say that this is the CHEAPEST upgrade Microsoft has ever released.  For only $40 you can be rocking Windows 8 today!  Microsoft has put a lot of time, money and effort into “re-imagining” the Windows operating system.  They want everyone to upgrade, and are offering it at a price point that will allow everyone to upgrade.

So, now that you’ve upgraded your computer to Windows 8, you may be asking yourself a few questions…. The first being “What happened to my desktop, and where did my start button go??”  You can watch the included video tutorial on this post, but I’ll list out some of the highlights here for those who prefer to read.

Start Screen

The Start Screen is where you will Start when you boot up your Windows 8 machine.  I know, clever name, right?

In order to customize your start screen you can start by moving some of the tiles around.  To move a tile just click and drag the tile to it’s new location.  To make the tile smaller, right click on the tile and select “Smaller” from the menu that pops up at the bottom.  You can also uninstall the application from this menu, remove the tile from the start menu altogether (by unpinning it), or turn the live tile completely off.  Turning the live tile off will turn it into a static icon instead of being able to see updates from the application on the tile.

You can also change around the groups of tiles by clicking in the bottom right corner of the screen.  This will shrink the start screen, and  you can right click on the entire group of tiles to rename the group or to create a name for a new group you’ve created.

Desktop Mode

Clicking on “Desktop” in your Start Screen will put you right back into familiar territory.  In desktop mode  you can use your computer just like you remember, except for one distinct difference.  Your start button has disappeared!  If you move your mouse to the bottom left corner of your screen you can click back to the start screen, but the start button, with it’s little pop up menu has now vanished.  This is probably the one thing people will complain about the most for Windows 8.  Really though, it’s tried to become more obsolete with each version of Windows.  In XP you had to scroll through endless applications to find the one you are looking for.  With Vista you only had to click start and then start typing to find the right file/program/folder you are looking for.  The same thing goes for the start screen.  If you are looking at the start screen you only need to start typing to find the thing you are looking for.  So it’s exactly the same number of steps as before.  Click to go to the start screen and start typing.


If you have several applications running (in their full screen “app mode” and not within the desktop) you can switch easily between them by clicking the top left corner of your screen.  To specify which app you want to pull up , you can click the top left corner and then pull your mouse down to see all of the apps that are currently running.  From here you can select the one you want to pull up, and you are off and running.


On the right side of your screen, if you move your mouse to the top right corner, you will see what Microsoft is calling Charms.  There will be a search button for you to search through apps, files, etc.  You can get back to the start screen from the charms by clicking “start” and you can change your computer settings (or reboot) by clicking settings.  If you are in desktop mode and select Settings from the charms, you will find the wonder that is your control panel as well.

Getting a Start Menu back

So, you’ve been through the video, read all about how awesome Windows 8 is, but you just can’t live without your Start Button?  There are solutions for you!  The one I have installed is called Pokki.  I chose that, because it’s got a great instagram browsing app that you can install with it.  If I click on the little acorn looking icon in my taskbar in Desktop mode, voila!  Start Button in all it’s glory.  At least access to the things you would look for in the start button.

Got Windows 8 Questions?  I’ve got answers.  Feel free to tweet them to me @Tech4Moms or ask them right here on this post, or on Facebook.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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  • So, if I install Winy with Windows 8 on my computer, will I then need to have my smart tech daughter install new printer drivers? If so, why shouldn’t I just stay with the old version of Windows and save the hassle?