Blog du Tristank

Migrating to . And still so terrific that 3 of 4 readers rated it "soporific"

A weekend’s worth of tips in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Just some notes recording what I’ve picked up from a couple of days using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my main desktops:


The hit target for the Start button is the very bottom left corner – like, the four pixels in that region. Just slam the mouse there and click – when you get used to it, it’s cool!


The sides of the screen work consistently that way – each is a slam-to-any-corner, then mouse up or down to get to the functionality on that border. This makes it fast without permanently cluttering screen space (I haven’t tried multimon yet).

Task switching – slam to top-left, then drag mouse straight down. (Or, bottom-left-as-in-Start, and slide up). Has grown on me greatly; I often now have a metro app side by side with the Win32 stuff/desktop. Alt+Tab still works.

imageCharms – slam to top-right or bottom right, then drag down or up, but be quickish, it fades! Or just Win+C.

Charms are important – each app has its own Settings (Win+I to skip the Charms menu step) now, and you print (for example) through the Devices charm by picking the Printer. Share through the Share charm. And so on.

On Settings – you can get to Settings (as in, that big list of Win8 style settings) by going Charms, Settings, More Settings (at the bottom). It’s arguably easier just to hit your username and Change Picture.

Drag straight down (violently!) from the top to throw away (i.e. terminate, I think) any Metro app. Otherwise, drag it to the region you want it in.


Start-and-type to search and run programs still works like in Windows Vista and 7 – you just hit Start and without waiting for anything, type a bit of the name of the program you want to run, and it searches for it. Ctrl+Shift+Enter probably still elevates that program to Admin. The difference from Windows 7 is that there’s no search box before you start typing. Well, that and there’s a full-screen list of programs.

Tip: The Start screen goes away as soon as you’re running a Win32 app, just like the old Start menu*. If all you run is Win32 apps, it’s big, sure, but it’s fluid.

If you’re still Win+R ing to Run apps, that works too.


imageimage The Remote Desktop Metro app behaves subtly differently from the MSTSC Win32 app when remoting to a Win8 target.

I’d summarize this as: the Metro one is optimized for fullscreen touch interfaces (and won’t entirely capture your mouse when in fullscreen – if you mouse to the bottom left, you get the local OS start menu), while the MSTSC version works basically how it always did. Plus extra buttons and stuff. If you were working on a touch-only device, swiping for the local start menu makes a lot of sense (how else are you going to escape!?)

As I’m working on a touch-enabled desktop but mostly keyboard-and-mousing, I tend to prefer the MSTSC behaviour over Remote Desktop Metro.

If you’re using Win8 MSTSC, it’s faster to click the (new) Start button in the MSTSC connection bar (at the top of the windowed desktop) than try to hunt for the lower left pixel if it’s windowed, at least right now, as far as I can tell, YMMV, cheques may not be honoured. Just connect Fullscreen, and slam that mouse around!

As long as you’re capturing the Windows key in your RDP session, other handy non-hunting tips: Win+C = Charms, Win+I = Settings


* except again, it’s full screen. I’m OK with that – it wasn’t like I scrutinized the Start menu every time it appeared.

Note: Tristan has no inside information on Windows 8, he’s experiencing the Consumer Preview along with the rest of the world.