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Windows 8.1 Tip: Master Auto-Snap | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows September 22, 2013

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Paul Thurrott, Windows 8.
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One of the more interesting new features in Windows 8.1 is what I call Auto-Snap, the ability of certain actions in this OS to automatically enable Snap and place two Metro apps side-by-side. For example, when you open a picture-based email attachment in the Mail app, it opens side-by-side with Mail in the Photos app. Some people don’t like this behavior, but this simple tip will ease a bit of the pain.

Thanks to Clifford B, for tipping me off to this functionality.

(Metro) Snap debuted in Windows 8 as a way to run two apps side-by-side. But in that initial release of OS, Snap was very limited. It could only be triggered manually by the user, and yet was almost impossible to discover. And the snapped area was very small, and hard-coded to a specific pixel width, making side-by-side app usage almost pointless.

In Windows 8.1, Snap has been improved in many ways and is now far more usable. Auto-Snap is just one of those improvements: It is triggered when one app needs to open a document or other file in another app. So instead of opening the new app full-screen as before—triggering confusion on the user’s part, since many people had no idea how to get back to the original app—Auto Snap opens the new app side-by-side with the original app.

You can see this effect most clearly in the Mail app, though this isn’t the only example. When you open an attachment in Mail, the attachment opens in a new app alongside Mail. For example, here’s a picture attachment opening in the Photos app.

It’s worth mentioning, incidentally, that Auto-Snap is pretty intelligent, too. That picture attachment opens in such a way that the Photos app takes up most of the screen because a picture is visual and Microsoft understands that it requires more of the available screen real estate. But if you open a document or web URL, the app that opens those attachment types will open in a 50/50 split with Mail so you can more easily read both side-by-side.

Of course, you may want to view the second app full-screen, and once you’ve dealt with that second app, you probably want to then return to email (or whatever app you were originally using).

With a touch-based system, this is easy and works as before: You can simply drag the Snap border to a screen edge in either case. (Though of you hide the first app by displaying the second one full screen, you then need to know how to redisplay that first app, which is another issue.)

With the mouse, you can use Auto-Snap. You may already know that if you move the mouse cursor to the top of the screen in Windows 8/8.1, the cursor changes into what I call the "hamburger helper" cursor, shown here:

Note: Technically, this cursor is called the Link Select pointer.

This indicates that you can now drag the currently displayed app, to move it manually into a snapped position or to exit the app. But in Windows 8.1, you can also double-click when the cursor is in this mode. Using the previous example with the picture snapped next to Mail, doing so in the Photos app maximizes that app so that the picture is now full-screen:

But if you double-click on the hamburger helper cursor again—again, at the top of the screen—the Mail app will then reappear, full-screen. You can double-click in this way at the top of any Metro app to toggle the display of Snap.

So the next time Windows 8.1 triggers Auto-Snap, don’t despair. Just remember that you can double-click to toggle the display the way you prefer.

Windows 8.1 Tip: Master Auto-Snap | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

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Windows 8 vs. iPad: feature by feature | The Verge March 2, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in Apple, BlogoSphere, iOS, Microsoft, Microsoft, Platforms & EcoSystems, Software, The Verge, Windows, Windows 8.
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ipad vs windows 8 comparison

Microsoft’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview was made available to download yesterday, giving everyone a chance to experience the company’s most revolutionary change in user interface since Windows 95. The interaction paradigm has shifted from a mouse-centric desktop to a touch-friendly, highly visual Metro style UI. The old Start orb has been retired and replaced by a Charms bar, which is brought to life with an inward swipe from the right. A swipe from the top down dismisses the app you’re in and returns you to the home screen, and the left and bottom edges also have actions associated with them. Gestures play a very significant role in Windows 8, but they’re only one aspect of a truly gargantuan list of changes……

Windows 8 vs. iPad: feature by feature | The Verge

Disappointing review they really didn’t show off features that Windows 8 had and that the iPad didn’t. The features were ones compared to the limited iPad set. For example the author failed to point out you can easily switch to a Full Internet explorer from the Metro Internet Explorer. For a full detailed overview of Windows 8 CP feature see Paul Thurott’s SuperSite for Windows, www.winsupersite.com. Many of his articles are linked here.

With Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft Silences the Critics March 2, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Suddenly, you can see it happening: A future in which Microsoft melds the traditional Windows desktop with the highly mobile and highly connected devices that are just now exploding isn’t just possible. It’s a sure thing.

Microsoft on Wednesday unleashed its nearly feature-complete Windows 8 Consumer Preview to the public. This new pre-release milestone, called the Beta internally, is one of just a handful of public releases the company plans before delivering the final version of the OS in an expected Q4 2012 timeframe. But it’s already got the Internet buzzing.

"Get psyched," commentator and professional Apple promoter David Pogue wrote from his column at the New York Times. "With Windows 8, Microsoft has sweated the details, embraced beauty and simplicity, and created something new and delightful." 

"A Silicon Valley startup called Lytro is shipping a camera this week that actually lets you focus or refocus your pictures on a computer after you take them," commentator and professional Apple promoter Walt Mossberg wrote from his equally lofty perch at the Wall Street Journal.

Wait, what?

OK, so Mr. Mossberg hasn’t opined on Windows 8 yet, but then why would he with other such exciting topics to discuss this week? The point, however, is simple: Even Microsoft’s biggest critics—and Apple’s biggest public backers—love Windows 8. Well, assuming they give it the time of day, that is.

"We really are on the threshold of a whole new era of personal computing,
USA Today‘s more moderate Ed Baig noted in his own review. "I’m impressed by what I see."

So am I, Ed. So am I…….

With Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft Silences the Critics

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: All Apps Comes Of Age March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: All Apps Comes Of Age

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If you’re familiar with Windows Phone, you know that this system presents a dual view user experience, with a primary screen called the Start screen that is filled with pinned tiles and a secondary screen called All Apps that lists every single app installed on the device. In the Windows 8 Developer Preview, however, only the Start screen was readily available. To get to All Apps, curiously, you needed to instantiate a search.

Guess what just got a lot easier?

In the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has fixed All Apps, making it much easier to access and, as important, making it even more useful than the similar feature in Windows Phone.

To access All Apps from the Start screen, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the new App Bar and then tap the All Apps button. (With the keyboard, you can tap WINKEY + Z. Or, with a mouse, just right-click the Start screen.)

ss_app_bar

The new All Apps interface, shown below, includes a few improvements, too.

all_apps

First, as you install new applications, the All Apps screen will segregate each of the app’s various executables into groups so that they’re together. As you can see above, there are groups for internal items (Windows Accessories) as well as applications that were installe separately by the user (Microsoft Office).

Also, the presentation is denser than it was in the Developer Preview, providing more apps onscreen at once.

Microsoft tells me, however, that one more change is coming. What’s missing, currently, is a way to easily get back to where you just were. So between the Consumer Preview an RTM, Microsoft will add an App Bar to the interface with a button to go back.

Note that you can still search for apps as before, and that’s true whether you’re in the Start screen or the All Apps view. To start a search, simply start typing any letter.

search

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Windows Key Keyboard Shortcuts March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Windows Key Keyboard Shortcuts

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With the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Microsoft has completely overhauled the system of keyboard shortcuts that utilize the ubiquitous Windows Key, and as you’ll soon discover, virtually ever letter in the alphabet is now assigned to some function. This change is in keeping with the company’s desire to make Windows 8 highly usable not just by beginners with touchscreen-based devices, but also by more experienced users on traditional PCs.

Here’s the complete list of Windows Key keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8. Unless otherwise noted, each is attained by tapping and holding down the Windows Key on your keyboard while striking another character…….

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The True Story Behind the Missing Start Button March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The True Story Behind the Missing Start Button

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In the past few weeks, screen captures emerged showing that the Start button, a fixture in Windows since 95 when it debuted in Windows 95, would be removed from Windows 8. Enthusiasts acted as if it were a betrayal, a final nail in the coffin of the desktop UI they just know is being herded out to pasture.

None of it is true. Well, the Start button is being removed from the Windows 8 desktop, though as I wrote about in tongue-in-cheek fashion in Windows 8 Secrets: Windows 8 Is NOT Dropping The Start Button, any Windows logoed device or PC will have a Windows key (on the keyboard) or Windows key button (on the device itself) that will accomplish the same thing. What I couldn’t tell you at the time, sorry, was that this is only part of the story.

So here’s the true story behind the missing Start button in Windows 8.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Improvements to Mouse and Keyboard Navigation March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Improvements to Mouse and Keyboard Navigation

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While I probably had more experience with the Windows 8 Developer Preview than almost anyone–I used it as my primary PC platform for several months until the release of the Consumer Preview–it didn’t take much time with that version of the OS to realize that something was missing. And that’s because it was missing. Yes, Microsoft had nearly fully realize the touch experience for Windows 8 in the Developer Preview, because that was essentially a new interface paradigm for most users and the company wanted to get it right. But users of PCs with traditional keyboards and mice–i.e. almost everyone–noticed that the Developer Preview was quite lacking. And the complaints pored in as expected.

Folks, it’s all fixed…….

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: User Experience and Fit and Finish Improvements March 1, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: User Experience and Fit and Finish Improvements

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With the Windows 8 Developer Preview, Microsoft made a promise about the future of Windows, a promise that is only now coming to fruition in the Consumer Preview. And that promise is this: While the major user experience changes in Windows 8 are indeed inspired by, and tailored to, multi-touch, they will work equally well with traditional PC interfaces, including keyboard, mouse, and trackpad.

Users who braved the Developer Preview hoping to garner some hint at this future, as I did for several painful months, came away disappointed. But that was by design, in the sense that Microsoft knew it had a certain amount of time to get the new, touch-based interfaces right, and it thus focused its efforts on shipping the new user experience first, while knowing that the keyboard and mouse/trackpad improvements could follow in a subsequent milestone.

But the Developer Preview wasn’t just incomplete from a user experience standpoint, it was also in some ways fundamentally incorrect. That is, because there were unfinished user interface bits, Microsoft had to implement small hacks just to get the Developer Preview out the door in a way that could be used………..

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Top 8 Features February 29, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Top 8 Features

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Anyone using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview will be struck by how much more complete the experience is this time around, how the seemingly disconnected strands presented in the Developer Preview are all coming together suddenly, and wonderfully. Yes, there will be lingering questions from power users about the interoperability of the Metro environment and desktop apps. But really, the sheer amount of polish on this release should be a wake-up call to anyone who thought Microsoft would never pull this thing off. Windows 8 isn’t just real. It’s in great shape.

As you probably know, I have a ton of content for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and tons more to come. But before moving on to the next stage of my coverage, I thought I’d take a step back and reflect on the handful of things–OK, 8, what the heck–that really stand out in this release.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview: What’s New in the Consumer Preview February 29, 2012

Posted by John Ruby in BlogoSphere, Microsoft, Paul Thurrott, Software, Windows 8.
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Windows 8 Consumer Preview: What’s New in the Consumer Preview

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According to Microsoft, there are literally of thousands of improvements in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. But if you’re familiar with the previous milestone, the Developer Preview, and only want a high-level view of the major changes, go no further. Here’s a comprehensive list of the most important changes Microsoft made to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Some are obvious, sure. But some may surprise you.

Note: This is by no means a complete list, and of course you should check out my many other Windows 8 Consumer Preview articles for even more information about the changes in this release.