Windows 8. A step too far?

 

One of the most frequent complaints against Microsoft in the past is that they have not been innovative enough and that they tend to follow meekly behind others who have been far more ready to take risks in the past such as Apple. I’ve even been guilty of that accusation myself. But as a user, here’s my take on things for what its worth.

In the past, Microsoft has been the main company serving the corporate technological world. During the years when it was generally only companies and/or institutions who used PC’s, and when most of us ‘none corporate’ users didn’t dream of owning a home computer, Microsoft aimed their sights firmly at the business sector and their usage needs. Word processing, Spread sheets, Databases, and an operating system geared to the running of a business  meant that most of Microsoft’s main focus was squarely aimed at the corporate  user. And rightly so. But in the meantime and certainly since the launch of Windows XP, the user base has slowly shifted from being just the corporate sector usage to the ordinary consumer ‘in the street.’

Microsoft seemed to be oblivious to the shift taking place from the corporate user to the consumer user. It was as if they had their eyes firmly set in only one direction. Others such as Apple and Google were never as focused on the corporate usage side of computers, and therefore they have been quicker to see the demographic shift in needs. There is a huge difference in how an ordinary consumer at home uses technology and their PC to how they are used in the workplace. Consumers tend to prefer to share, photos, short messages, music, etc, and this need has mainly been met  by social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only that but most prefer  to do this ‘on the move’ and to not be tied down to a static home PC, hence the rise of laptops, tablets and ‘smart’ mobile phones. The consumer user base has slowly grown since the launch of XP, but meantime most of the corporate sector has not kept pace and most  remain still using Windows XP.

For them, ( I should imagine) its a very big undertaking to move forward to a new operating system as it involves the training of all of your staff in its usage. I was shocked last year to realise that the entire NHS is still using Windows XP whilst I’m now running Windows 8 Consumer Preview!  What I am trying to say here is that whilst corporate usage has not moved on, the consumer usage has grown and grown and has become far more advanced.

Now suddenly its as if Microsoft have glanced around from the direction they have always faced and suddenly noticed that its the consumer who is rapidly becoming the de facto user and their usage of technology needs to be met.  The big question is, are they too late? The tablet market is currently dominated by Apple with the iPad with even Android having difficulty making any dint in that area, and despite the fact that Windows phone is fantastic to use, they have an uphill battle all the way.  Talking of Apple, one of the paths that they have not taken was to try and merge the same operating system on both their iMacs and also the iPhone and IPad.  Now, Microsoft are planning the risky step of doing exactly that, serving both the static PC user (which by definition includes the corporate user) AND also the mobile phone/tablet market. Can it be done? Is it possible to meet every type of users needs with just one OS?

Paul Thurrott sums it all up for me in one of his recent posts on the subject of Windows 8 here at http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows8/windows-8-release-preview-rip-aero-20032012-143133  and I agree that in ‘bending over backwards’ to enter the tablet and mobile hardware market, where of course battery life is crucial, are Microsoft going too far and forgetting the static PC user who up until now have been their bread and butter?  Should they instead have one operating system for mobile devices (i.e Metro) and simply keep Windows OS for those users who run a static PC or who want to remain with the Windows environment?

Personally, I am now quite used to using Windows 8 on my static PC with a mouse and keyboard and I really like it, but I have to admit that the Metro interface does look (and work) far better on my phone working with touch input.  Nor am I needing several programs open at once or to do any word-processing or work of any kind, my needs and usage is  far removed from those of the corporate user. And there is the big question mark. If most of the corporate world is still using Windows XP, can I see them rushing to move to Windows 8 anytime soon? To be honest with you, no I can’t. Nor can I envisage users such as the NHS equipping all of their staff with tablets either!

It’s all a very big gamble and one that is sort of surprising in a way coming from Microsoft, a company that most consider to be a ‘dinosaur’ who never innovate or do anything new. Can they pull it off? It’s certainly going to be a very interesting year finding out!

TG

Windows Live Writer. What happens now?

 

On Wednesday, Chris Jones outlined Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 and also the rebranding of Windows Live Essentials suite of desktop programs. Windows Live as a brand is to be dropped, and he included a table showing the old named programs and their equivalent names going forward. What was most noticeable from this table was the absence of any Live Writer app for Windows 8.

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As Windows Live Writer has become a well loved blogging editor by many users over the years since its beginning, it obviously raises questions as to any long term plans for this wonderful program, which in my case I use extensively for all of my blogs and without which I would probably be lost. 

Live Writer has always made use of every aspect of other programs such as Photo Gallery, SkyDrive to save your photos and photo albums, or including a Bing map to give just a few examples. Moreover, during its lifetime, its team has always been one of the most helpful to its users and also been at the ‘cutting edge’ for introducing new and innovative feature into Writer.

They set up a Live Writer forum especially to help users having problems and gain feedback from them for features they would love to be included. Once when I was having some difficulties getting Writer to sync with one of my blogs, I was contacted by one of the team via email. Wherever possible, users requests for features were incorporated into Writer in the next update, and it now contains many features that other blogging editors can only dream of. For example, they were the first to incorporate Photo Album into the product, which allows you to include a full album of photos in a blog post so that your readers can then go and view every photo in that album on SkyDrive by simply clicking on it inside your blog post. The album can be attractively presented in many innovative ways and contain as many photos in it as you like, yet is kept in the size of your blog post. This brilliant idea was then subsequently ported over to online Hotmail posts and also Windows Live Mail.

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Live Writer is also one step ahead of Photo Gallery by allowing you to add a watermark to any photo that you include in a blog post, and there are many more instances where the Writer team have ‘led the way’ with new features where other teams have been lacking. Not only that, you have been able to ‘tailor’ Writer to how you use it by the inclusion of Writer ‘plug ins’ which add many useful features that may not have been included in Live Writer at the time. These include such additions as being able to add a Polaroid picture into your post or add images from your Picasa Web Albums, Facebook or Flickr if you tend to store your pictures there. Some of the more popular plug ins were then subsequently added to Writer by the team, such as being able to add an assortment of smileys to your post or the very popular Polaroid photo feature.

The Writer team have always been open to suggestions for new features from their users and have always been willing to help users when they have encountered problems. In fact, previous versions of Live Writer actually included a ‘help’ button to allow you to contact the team directly. It’s why I always considered the Live Writer team to be my favourite Live team simply because they were willing to listen to their users.

Now we face the fact that maybe Windows Live Writer is no longer going to be supported by Microsoft in the future, and that a Windows 8 Writer app is not on the horizon. As I own a Windows phone, I was also hoping for not only a Writer app for Windows 8, but also one for both tablets and mobiles so I could compose a blog post ‘on the go’. My great friend Scott Lovegrove who has coded many plug ins for Writer has begun a petition at http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/dontkillwlw and if you love using Live Writer as much as I do for your blogs, then please take a few moments to sign it. It could make all the difference.

Thanks TG

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 8. Multitasking and Productivity.

Now let’s take a look at using the METRO Start screen if we tend to use our PC not for leisure but for productivity. We might need to use OFFICE apps or need to have lot’s of our apps open at the same time in order to quickly move between them. How can we utilise the new METRO start screen for those kind of different needs so that our productivity is made easier?

1. The answer is that any program, any app or file can be pinned to the METRO start screen and then grouped into a set of tiles so that they are organised in a way that suits how you tend to work. Group all of your OFFICE programs under an OFFICE group by clicking on the small icon in the lower right hand corner of the METRO start screen as previously described. (Semantic Zoom)

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2. Right click on the Group to rename it.

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3. Next you need to move the whole OFFICE group of tiles all the way over to the left hand side so that it will be fully available to use from the METRO start screen.

4. In order to do this, from the Semantic Zoom view, left click on top of the OFFICE group of tiles, hold the left mouse button down and drag that group over to the left hand side. Do exactly the same thing for any other group of tiles that you feel you will need access to the most.

5. If you are an Administrator and need to have those programs handy on the METRO start screen, here’s how to enable those.

6. From the normal view of the METRO start screen, hover over to the top right hand corner of the screen to invoke the CHARMS bar, click on SETTINGS, then select SETTINGS again from the top.

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7. Next under the Show Administrative Tools, slide the slider over to the right until it shows YES.

8. Now all of the Admin Tools will be added as tiles to the METRO start screen and you can make those into a group and move that group over to the left hand side as previously described.

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Now your start screen will look entirely different but everything that you need will now be just one click away to use.

9. Next, let’s see how we can work between programs using the new METRO start screen. Once you have several METRO apps open, such as MAIL, PEOPLE or a webpage in METRO IE10, you can flip between using or reading any one of them by taking your mouse to the top left hand corner of the screen and then hovering down.

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10. Click on any of the small windows on the left hand side to open it to make it the main window or alternatively drag to the right in order to invoke the ‘split screen’ mode. The previously opened app or program will be pushed over to the right hand side. Note that my last opened Desktop app (Live Writer in this instance) is also available to use.

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Having more than one of your desktop apps open at the same time to work with is possible by clicking on one of the open desktop apps whilst viewing one of your METRO apps such as the MAIL program or METRO IE10. Click on the topmost desktop app and swipe down from the top left hand corner and towards the right with your mouse.

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The open desktop apps will all be available down the left hand side of the screen and you can then access any one of them to work inside it by clicking on the smaller window. The open METRO app will then be moved over to a narrow view on the far right hand side as shown in my screen grab.

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So to sum up at this point in time you can work between all of your open desktop programs as long as you are have one METRO app open, and then move back and forth between them but that METRO app will have to remain open.  However, you cannot have lot’s of desktop programs available in METRO start screen AND lot’s of METRO apps as well. When many METRO apps are open at the same time, only the last desktop app that you currently have open is available to you. So if you wish to work between quite a few desktop apps, it may be better at this time to open them all in the Desktop rather than in the METRO start screen.

TG

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 7. Internet Explorer Metro style.

There are two completely separate versions of Internet Explorer contained in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The Desktop version works in more or less the same way as previous versions of IE, but the METRO version is a whole new different ball game! So let’s work our way through using it shall we?

1. Click onto the IE tile from the METRO start screen to open Internet Explorer.

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2. At the bottom of the screen you will see the following, a back arrow, the URL bar, refresh icon, pin icon, Settings spanner icon and a forwards arrow. Type in an URL into the URL box to go to that webpage.

3. Clicking on the PIN icon allows you to pin that particular website you are currently on to your METRO start menu so that you can go to it via one click.

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4. At the this time, clicking on the SETTINGS (Spanner) icon currently offers you FIND ON PAGE or VIEW ON THE DESKTOP. The latter choice offered in case the website in question does not display correctly or work for any reason. Choosing FIND ON PAGE opens a  box where you can type in your word or phrase.

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5. Typing in a word into the URL box will show you all those websites that you may have previously visited that contain that word or phrase, or if you wish to conduct a search using that word or phrase then press return.

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6. If you left click inside the URL box, your most visited Websites and the one’s that you have pinned to your METRO start screen will be displayed. Clicking on any will open that website.

7. Right clicking whilst in METRO IE will show all of the previous websites you have visited recently visited in small windows. (tabs) Clicking on any small window will open that website. Clicking on the X icon will close it.

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8. Clicking on the + icon opens a new tab and clicking on the … icon let’s you set up a new InPrivate tab or Clean up your tabs.

9. At any time whilst on a website, you can use the left arrow to go back a page, or right arrow to the last page that you viewed if available.

10. Right clicking on a link in a website allows you to Copy Link, Open link in new tab or Open the Link immediately.

TG  Next post, we’ll run through using more than one program at a time and sorting out your METRO Start screen for productivity.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 6. Music and Video.

 Music.

1. Click on the Music app to open it, You will be required to accept the Microsoft Beta Program Agreement and once you have clicked on Accept, you will be in the Music app main screen where all of your current Music Albums will be shown. (Unfortunately at this time, I cannot sign into the app from the UK but will update this post as and when it is enabled for my country.) Probably because I am unable to sign into the app, none of my Music Albums contain a cover. Instead I simply have a generic headset icon.

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2. Click on one of your Albums to listen to it or alternatively click on Play all music to play through all of your albums. You will also note that the currently playing song and how long it has been playing is shown on the far left of this screen. Clicking on the Show More tile will show your other albums if there are quite a few.

3. Right click will bring up options such as Shuffle, Repeat, Pause and Next.

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4. Searching from the CHARM bar will allow you to search for a particular song from any music album in your collection. You can then either choose to Play that song straight away or add it to your Now Playing.

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So at this time, I feel that the Music app is in a very early stage of development with lot’s of features still to come. The currently playing song will be shown in the Music tile.

Video

Next, let’s take a look at the Video app.

1. Click on the Video app tile to open it. Again you will be requested to Accept the Video Beta Program Agreement. As with the Music app, the Video app seems to be in the first early stages of development and again, I could not sign into it from the UK. For this how-to, I will use some of my own personal videos I created ages ago using Windows Live Movie Maker.

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At this stage, my own videos are not shown with a cover grab from the video but instead just show a black tile.

2. Clicking on Show More will show all of your videos in an A to Z format.

3. Clicking on top of one of them will allow you to play it and state the total length of the video selected. If you have quite a few videos, you can conduct a search of them all via the CHARMS bar.

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4. Whist a video is playing, you can toggle between watching it full screen or in a smaller version by clicking on the icon at the bottom.

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5.Clicking on top of the video as it is playing will invoke a left and right arrow and a pause/play icon. Clicking on the left/right arrows will  take you through the video in 30 minute steps. The same features can also be accessed by right clicking whilst watching a video. The currently playing video will be shown in the Video tile.

As you can see, there is obviously still a lot of work to be done with both of these apps and I look forward to seeing how they evolve.

TG  Next post we’ll work through using the METRO version of Internet Explorer.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 5. Weather and Maps.

This post, we’ll take a look at any other apps that need personalising, including the Weather and the Maps apps.

Weather.

1. Click on the WEATHER app. Firstly you will be asked if you will allow the app to use your location.

2. Click on Allow. There will be a short pause whilst the WEATHER app loads up the info for your location. You will then be presented with a large picture depicting the current weather where you live on the left hand side of the screen and on the right hand side a hourly forecast complete with descriptive icons for the current day. At the bottom of the picture, you are shown todays temperature followed by the next few days. You can click on the right arrow icon next to the days forecasts to show up to ten days ahead. Clicking on the More icon will show alternative forecasts from other Weather forecast sites such as Foreca and AccuWeather.

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3. Scroll right with your scroll wheel to see more information such as the regional and national temperature for your country under Maps. To the right of the Maps info, you can also see a bar graph showing the recent history of the weather in your locality.

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4. Click on either of the icons below the bar graph will display the temperature, the rainfall and any snow days throughout the previous months for your locality. . At the far right is a breakdown of those stats for the current month.  Clicking on any month will show the average for that month .

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5. Right click Anywhere in the WEATHER app to bring up more choices. The choices are Places and World Weather.

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6. Clicking on Places allows you to choose another location to get weather details from. This could be somewhere where you intend to visit and can be in the same country or abroad. You can then see the same details for that locality.

You can add as many places as favourites as you wish by clicking on the plus sign in the black tile. Clicking on any one of them will show you the same details as you previously accessed with your own locality.

7. Next, click on the World Weather in order to see an interactive world map showing the current weather in several locations. If you stay on that world map you will see the locations change. Click on any of the currently added locations in order to see detailed weather information for that particular location.

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Maps.

1. Open the Maps app by clicking on it. As with the Weather app, you will be asked if the Map app can use your location. Click on Allow.

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The Map app will then load a local map showing your current location marked by a small orange triangle. In this app, your choices are all available by default. At the top of the map you have a Bing search box, Directions and a larger search box where you can conduct a search for another location or business.

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At the bottom of the app, you have My Location, Show Traffic and Map Style.

2. Click on the Map style icon and a pop up allows you to choose between Road View and Aerial View.

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3. Using your mouse scroll wheel will allow you to scroll into or out of the Map view.  In the next screen grab, I’ve used the mouse scroll wheel to scroll right out to show most of the United Kingdom. A quick click on the My Location icon takes me right back down to a the close view of my location on the map again.

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4. Now let’s click on Directions at the top of the map. Type into the B box the destination that you wish to travel to. The A box is of course your current location. If you wish to know the route from another destination you can input that in the A box.

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A from A to B route will then be shown on the map with detailed numbered instructions at the top. Clicking on each instruction will highlight it on the route. As your mouse scroll wheel works to scroll in and out of the Map, you will have to click on the scroll bar directly beneath the instructions in order to scroll through them from left to right.

5. Click on the black arrow on the right hand side of the instructions to close them. 

6. Right click on the map and then click on Clear at the bottom left in order to clear that route from the map.

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Conducting a Search of Maps using the CHARMS bar search feature can also be useful to find a particular location on a Map.

TG  Next post, well take a look at the MUSIC app and the VIDEO app.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview.4. The Photos app.

You can view all of your photos directly in the PHOTOS app from not only your computer but also from your SkyDrive, your Facebook account and also Flickr. I would imagine that other photo hosting sites will also be added in due course. The PHOTOS app is NOT an editing app like Photo Gallery in its preview incarnation, instead its an app that allows you to view your photos from all the different online photo hosting sites that you currently use. So let’s set it all up shall we?

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1. Click on the PHOTOS app to open it. If you already have any photos on your computer, these will be shown on the left hand side in your Picture Library. Next will be any photos that you have previously uploaded to your SkyDrive, followed by any photos from Facebook if you have already connected to it in your PEOPLE app.

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2. If you also use Flickr to store your photos online, then that may need to be connected to. The method used is exactly the same as before when you connected a service to the PEOPLE app. You will be informed all the way through the connection process about the exact features that will be shared with the app and in the case of Flickr, you will also receive a warning before you authorise the app.

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The PHOTOS app will choose one of your photos from each account or on your computer to display. The total photos from both your computer (Pictures Library) and any online photo sites that you have connected to will be shown beneath each one. Next we’ll take a look at an Album in our Pictures Library.

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3. Click on your Pictures Library. All of your current Albums in your Pictures Library will now be shown, again displaying one of the photos from each Album. Right clicking with your mouse will give you the choice of Browsing your Pictures Library folders by Date. Once in the Date view of your Photo folders, another right click will give you the choice of Browse by Album.

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4. Click on one of those Albums and then once it is displayed singly, click once more in order to open it.

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For this how-to, I’m showing the Album from my Pictures Library that contains photos taken with my Windows phone. Using the mouse scroll wheel, you can scroll from left to right though all of the photos contained in that particular Album.

5. Right click allows you to view all of the photos in that Album as a Slideshow or alternatively to Select All. 

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6. Once chosen, Select All allows you to Delete all of the photos selected or Clear your selection.

7. Click on top of a single photo. The photo will then be shown full screen with navigation arrows at either side to enable you to move from the previous photo to the next one.

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8. Right clicking on a single photo view allows you more choices. You can set the photo as the App Tile (the photo to be displayed on top of the PHOTOS tile), you can set that photo as your Lock screen, you can Delete that single photo or you can view that photo and all others in a full screen Slideshow display.

9. Next let’s take a look at one of our Albums from one of our online services. The choices you are offered tend to differ from those offered in your Pictures Library. For example you cannot Delete any photos from Facebook, SkyDrive or Flickr from the PHOTO app at this time. For this how-to I’ll show the choices available for SkyDrive.

10. From the initial PHOTOS app screen, click on the SkyDrive Photos. As you can see from this screen grab, only Feedback is offered when right clicking on your SkyDrive Albums.  Unlike with your Pictures Library, you cannot at this time Browse by Date. If you have many Albums stored on your SkyDrive, then use the mouse scroll wheel to move through them from left to right.

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11. Click on one of your Photo Albums to open it. Right clicking on the page once the Album is open will allow you to view them in a Slideshow or Select them all. However, if you Select them you’ll note that there is no Delete choice offered.

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12. Clicking on an individual photo and then right clicking will give you similar choices to the one’s offered in your Pictures Library. You can choose to set that photo to display on you PHOTOS tile, set as your LOCK screen View on SkyDrive or see the rest of your photos from that Album as a full screen Slideshow.

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Both your Facebook photo albums and your Flickr Albums offer the same choices as SkyDrive.

13. Opening the CHARMS menu whilst in an album and typing in the SEARCH box will allow you to search any tagged photos in that album.

14. Want to SHARE a photo via Email? Bring up the CHARMS Menu by taking your mouse over to the top right hand side of your screen to invoke the CHARMS Menu and choose SHARE.

15. Click on the MAIL and type in the persons email address that you wish to send the photo/photos to. (you can select either one or more or ALL.

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16. When you have composed your email, click on the SEND icon at the top to send the recipient your photos. Alternatively you can also send them via the SkyDrive app.

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17. Selecting DEVICES from the CHARMS Menu when a photo is full screen will allow you to select a printer in order to print out the photo.

TG Next post, we’ll personalise the other apps such as the WEATHER app and also the MAPS app.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 3. Personalising the People app.

Next, let’s personalise our PEOPLE app.  For this how to, I’m beginning as if you do not already have any of your other accounts synced with your Microsoft Account. When you open the PEOPLE app for the first time, it might look fairly sparse.

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1. To add more accounts to your PEOPLE app, click on ADD MORE ACCOUNTS. For this how-to, I’m going to add my Facebook account and also my Twitter account to the PEOPLE app.

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2. Click on the account that you wish to add to the PEOPLE app. A CONNECT screen will be shown which explains at the top exactly what you will be able to do once you have connected that account to your PEOPLE app. In the case of Facebook for example, you will be able to chat with your Facebook friends and see their updates. You can also see more information by clicking on What else happens when I connect?

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3. Click on CONNECT from that screen.

4. Next you will be required to fill in your email address or username in the name field and your password.  As you input your name/email address and password, you will also be informed what the app will be able to do and what it won’t be able to do.

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5. If you are happy with the information, click on AUTHORISE APP or alternatively NO THANKS.

6. If you agree to the authorisation by the PEOPLE app, you will then see another screen stating that you are ready to go but it could take a few moments before you see any changes in the PEOPLE app. Click on DONE.

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A few moments later, all of your contacts from those accounts that you just added will begin to be shown in  the PEOPLE app. Some larger avatars will be added to the ALL screen and on the right hand side, an alphabetical list of your contacts names along with their avatars. Scrolling right using the mouse scroll wheel will take you through from A to Z of your added contacts.

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7. Click on any contact from that list to see both more details about them and also their latest updates. For this how-to, I’ll click on my friend Andre. A new page will open up which allows me to send Andre a message, see where he lives on a map and see more info about him. I can also see his latest updates he has made and also his photos he has uploaded to Facebook. If I click on a photo album I can then scroll through Andre’s photos and either like or add a comment.

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Similarly I can click on any update that Andre has made on Facebook, like that update or add a comment to it. If Andre is also on Twitter, I can add favourite one of his tweets, retweet it or reply to him from the PEOPLE app. You can access do any of this for each one of your Facebook or Twitter contacts. Next let’s take a look at What’s New in the PEOPLE app.

8. Click on WHAT’S NEW. You will now see a sideways scrolling screen with all your updates from everyone whom you either follow on Twitter or who is your friend on Facebook.

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9. To see all of these updates from any of your accounts that you have allowed in your PEOPLE app, scroll sideways from left to right using the mouse scroll wheel.

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10. If you wish to interact with the update, either to favourite it, retweet it or reply if its from Twitter, or like it or add a comment to it if its an update from Facebook, you can either click on the red header or click on one of the small icons underneath the update. Either one will take you to the screen where you can interact with the update.

At this point in time, it is only possible to scroll through a limited amount of updates in WHAT’S NEW. Next, lets take a look at ME.

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11. Click on the ME choice from above the updates. As you can see from the screen grab, I can see my own ALL INFO, my latest updates from any of my added accounts, NOTIFICATIONS from Facebook and any PHOTOS that I have added to Facebook in the past.

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12. To see more notifications, click on the ALL NOTIFICATIONS at the bottom of the list. Similarly you can scroll right with the mouse scroll wheel to see all the shown Photo Albums and click on ALL ALBUMS to see all your photo albums together.

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13. Left click on top of any album and then using the scroll wheel on your mouse you can scroll through your Facebook albums from left to right. You can also like or comment on any of your photos contained in an album.

14. To return to the ME screen simply click on the large left arrow.

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Besides Facebook and Twitter, you can also add a Google account, a Hotmail account or an Exchange account to the PEOPLE app.

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15. To conduct a SEARCH of your PEOPLE tile from anywhere inside the app, move your mouse to the top right hand side of your screen to invoke the CHARMS then click on the SEARCH icon. Type in someone’s name into the search box in order to find that person. Clicking onto that persons Avatar or name will then take you to their latest updates and more information about them.

TG  Next post we’ll personalise our PHOTOS app.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 3. Personalising the People app.

Next, let’s personalise our PEOPLE app.  For this how to, I’m beginning as if you do not already have any of your other accounts synced with your Microsoft Account. When you open the PEOPLE app for the first time, it might look fairly sparse.

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1. To add more accounts to your PEOPLE app, click on ADD MORE ACCOUNTS. For this how-to, I’m going to add my Facebook account and also my Twitter account to the PEOPLE app.

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2. Click on the account that you wish to add to the PEOPLE app. A CONNECT screen will be shown which explains at the top exactly what you will be able to do once you have connected that account to your PEOPLE app. In the case of Facebook for example, you will be able to chat with your Facebook friends and see their updates. You can also see more information by clicking on What else happens when I connect?

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3. Click on CONNECT from that screen.

4. Next you will be required to fill in your email address or username in the name field and your password.  As you input your name/email address and password, you will also be informed what the app will be able to do and what it won’t be able to do.

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5. If you are happy with the information, click on AUTHORISE APP or alternatively NO THANKS.

6. If you agree to the authorisation by the PEOPLE app, you will then see another screen stating that you are ready to go but it could take a few moments before you see any changes in the PEOPLE app. Click on DONE.

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A few moments later, all of your contacts from those accounts that you just added will begin to be shown in  the PEOPLE app. Some larger avatars will be added to the ALL screen and on the right hand side, an alphabetical list of your contacts names along with their avatars. Scrolling right using the mouse scroll wheel will take you through from A to Z of your added contacts.

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7. Click on any contact from that list to see both more details about them and also their latest updates. For this how-to, I’ll click on my friend Andre. A new page will open up which allows me to send Andre a message, see where he lives on a map and see more info about him. I can also see his latest updates he has made and also his photos he has uploaded to Facebook. If I click on a photo album I can then scroll through Andre’s photos and either like or add a comment.

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Similarly I can click on any update that Andre has made on Facebook, like that update or add a comment to it. If Andre is also on Twitter, I can add favourite one of his tweets, retweet it or reply to him from the PEOPLE app. You can access do any of this for each one of your Facebook or Twitter contacts. Next let’s take a look at What’s New in the PEOPLE app.

8. Click on WHAT’S NEW. You will now see a sideways scrolling screen with all your updates from everyone whom you either follow on Twitter or who is your friend on Facebook.

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9. To see all of these updates from any of your accounts that you have allowed in your PEOPLE app, scroll sideways from left to right using the mouse scroll wheel.

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10. If you wish to interact with the update, either to favourite it, retweet it or reply if its from Twitter, or like it or add a comment to it if its an update from Facebook, you can either click on the red header or click on one of the small icons underneath the update. Either one will take you to the screen where you can interact with the update.

At this point in time, it is only possible to scroll through a limited amount of updates in WHAT’S NEW. Next, lets take a look at ME.

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11. Click on the ME choice from above the updates. As you can see from the screen grab, I can see my own ALL INFO, my latest updates from any of my added accounts, NOTIFICATIONS from Facebook and any PHOTOS that I have added to Facebook in the past.

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12. To see more notifications, click on the ALL NOTIFICATIONS at the bottom of the list. Similarly you can scroll right with the mouse scroll wheel to see all the shown Photo Albums and click on ALL ALBUMS to see all your photo albums together.

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13. Left click on top of any album and then using the scroll wheel on your mouse you can scroll through your Facebook albums from left to right. You can also like or comment on any of your photos contained in an album.

14. To return to the ME screen simply click on the large left arrow.

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Besides Facebook and Twitter, you can also add a Google account, a Hotmail account or an Exchange account to the PEOPLE app.

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15. To conduct a SEARCH of your PEOPLE tile from anywhere inside the app, move your mouse to the top right hand side of your screen to invoke the CHARMS then click on the SEARCH icon. Type in someone’s name into the search box in order to find that person. Clicking onto that persons Avatar or name will then take you to their latest updates and more information about them.

TG  Next post we’ll personalise our PHOTOS app.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview. 2. Setting up Mail.

Next we’ll begin to add our email accounts to the MAIL app. At this point in time, the app will only work with a Hotmail/Live or Gmail account. However, if you have a POP account there is a temporary work around which I’ll cover in this how to. So let’s get started setting up our email accounts and using the new MAIL app.

1. Click on the MAIL app from the METRO start screen. Once the app is open it will show your mail from the account that you have already used to log into Windows 8 with. For this how to, I’m going to add an Gmail account.

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You can also add other Live ID’s or Hotmail accounts as well as Exchange accounts. As this app is still in a Preview stage, you cannot at this time use a POP account. But you can add your POP account to your Hotmail or Live ID online in order to temporarily get around this.

2. Access your Hotmail account online.

3. From the INBOX screen, click on OPTIONS on the top right hand side of your messages then from the drop down list click on MORE OPTIONS.

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4. From the MANAGING YOUR ACCOUNT list  select Sending and Receiving Email from other Accounts.

5. Select ADD AN EMAIL ACCOUNT and the fill in the email address and your password.

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6. Next you will be asked to choose between having your emails arrive in a separate folder or your INBOX folder. Choose INBOX then click on SAVE. Your Hotmail account will send a verification email to the account that you are trying to add, so you will have to go online to access your POP account in order to receive the verification email and therefore verify the account.

Once you have done that, all your POP account email will be downloaded to your Hotmail/Live account in the MAIL app. When POP accounts are enabled in the MAIL app in the future you can always go back to your Hotmail account online and delete any added POP accounts.

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7. At the top right hand side of the reading screen, you can see three icons, + to compose a new email, REPLY to the highlighted email and DELETE to delete the highlighted email. Click on any to choose either of those choices.

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8. If the ADD EMAIL ACCOUNTS choice at the bottom left hand column disappears or is no longer visible, then you can still add accounts from the CHARM bar by hovering your mouse to the right top corner in order to bring up the CHARM bar and click on SETTINGS, then ACCOUNTS.

9. You can conduct a SEARCH of your emails and their content in any account by taking your mouse to the top right hand corner to invoke the CHARMS bar and then select SEARCH.

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10.Type in a word or phrase into the SEARCH MAIL box. Click on SEARCH. All of your emails which contain that search word or term will then be presented to you in the INBOX column.

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11. When you need to compose a new email in the MAIL app by clicking on the + icon, as soon as you click in the writing area you are presented with several choices at the bottom of the write screen.  The choices are as follows:

Attachments, Emoticons, Font, Font colour, Highlight, Bold, Italic, Underline, Bulleted list and More which when clicked on displays a list containing High Priority, Normal Priority, Show Bcc, Undo and Redo.

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12. To use any of the choices in your email click on the icon to enable it. To disable click on the icon again. When you have finished composing your email, click on the SEND icon at the top right hand side of the compose screen.

TG  Next post we’ll work through personalising the PEOPLE app.

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