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Windows 8 Start Button ‘Still there, looks a little Different now’, Says Microsoft Offers Migration Guidance to Windows 8 App Developers

Where did the Start button go in Windows 8? The short answer: it’s still there, it’s just on the right, and it looks a little different now. Today, in a blog post, Microsoft discussed about the Start button and also shared some tips using Windows 8.

“The Start button has been one of the best known images in Windows for over sixteen years now. I’ll admit, when I look in the corner of my screen and just see an icon for Outlook, it’s still a little jarring. And I’ve been using Windows 8 for months now. So where did the Start button go? The short answer: it’s still there, it’s just on the right, and it looks a little different now. Also, you can still use the Windows logo key if you’re using your keyboard,” posted Kent Walter.

The new Start screen in Windows 8 also has a list of Charms, including “Search charm,” which by default, is set to show all of the Windows 8 apps you have installed. As you begin typing, the view changes in real time to include only the things that match what you’ve entered. On the upper right are options to filter your search to Settings or Files, so you can quickly find what you need. The Settings filter (go straight to it with Windows logo + W) shows results for tasks (like “Change display settings”) as well the names of parts of Control Panel (like Windows Mobility Center), and the Files filter (Windows logo + F) contains further controls to narrow your search by file type.

Windows 8 users can also use the Search charm while inside an app.

The “Settings charm” also changes when you are in the app and has settings specific to the app you’re using – Accounts in the Mail app, for example, or Control Panel and Personalization in the Desktop. So like the Search charm, it gives you a consistent place to go to look at settings for any app. The Settings charm also has a few commands that show up no matter what you’re doing.

The new app bar also come into play when you use a Windows 8 Metro app. Each app has its own specific commands in the app bar, such as opening a new window in Internet Explorer 10. When you select a tile (swipe down or right-click), the app bar includes commands that pertain to that app. So you might see Open new Window for Internet Explorer, Open File Location for Windows Explorer, or Larger / Smaller for tiles that can be wide or square on the Start screen.

Windows 8 App Bar

When you’re on the Start screen or in an app, swiping in from the top or bottom of the screen or right-clicking an empty space brings up the app bar with commands for that app (you can also use the Windows logo key + Z). Each app had its own set of options on the app bar, but you can get to the app bar the same way in every app. You can use one of the commands, or just tap or click back in the main part of the app to dismiss the app bar.

Also, in Windows 8, it’s pretty much finding and pinning things. Click Start – you can also click the lower left if it’s more comfortable – or the Search charm, and just start typing. If you’re using touch, the Search charm will bring up the search bar, and tapping the search field will bring up the touch keyboard. If you’re already at the Start screen, you can right-click it or swipe in from the top or bottom to bring up the app bar (more on that in just a minute), and click to get a list of all the apps you have installed.

You can click (or tap) an app to go right to it, or if you want to pin a tile, just swipe down or right-click it for options, including Pin to Start. You can use the same steps to unpin something later if you decide you don’t need it on the Start screen anymore.

The blog post also goes over some other Windows 8 tips and tricks such as right clicking on the lower left corner of the screen to show some power user features, snapping an app so you can show two apps running at once and more.

There’s also a new list of Windows 8 keyboard commands that you can check out for some shortcuts to doing tasks.

In another blog post, Microsoft’s John Sheehan offers some hints to developers to make the migration from Developer Preview to Consumer Preview easier stating:

“I can personally assure you that we take every change seriously. Some improvements are made based on direct feedback we hear: a feature is confusing so we make it easier, or it lacks some capability you told us you need. Other times, after we complete a feature and start using it ourselves, we realize it just didn’t land where we wanted it to, so we take what we learned and make it better. There are many factors we consider. Rest assured, we carefully think through every decision, with the goal of creating a great platform for your Metro style apps.”

The blog post goes over how developers can get their Developer Preview app running in the Consumer Preview.

Sheehan admits that while it could be tempting to keep your existing project, it’s best to start fresh with a new project in Visual Studio. Also if the new Item Templates support the contracts and features that will be needed in the app, Sheehan says they should be used instead of the app’s old code.

Microsoft also released a document that goes into detail for those that want to covert their older Windows 8 apps to work on the Consumer Preview.

Here are the Windows 8 Keyboard shortcuts (download here):

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