Computing

Windows 8 Ultimate Buyer's Guide: Setup Tips To Get You Started

You’ve picked the right form factor and you know the specs you need, and now a shiny new Windows 8 box is sitting on your desk. What happens once you turn it on? Make the most of your new device with these setup tips and tricks.

Your new machine will already have Windows 8 installed, and the basic setup is a simple enough process that we won’t walk you through it in detail here. That doesn’t mean you won’t want to make a few alterations once you get started.

Upgrade And Add Media Center

Windows 8 comes in two versions: standard Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Higher priced machines with Windows 8 pre-installed may have Windows 8 Pro, but cheaper machines will only run Windows 8, which doesn’t include a number of business-oriented features such as BitLocker encryption and remote desktop hosting. If you have a basic Windows 8 machine and want to upgrade it to Windows 8 Pro, you can do so for $249.99.

An upgrade that Pro owners may want to consider is the Windows 8 Media Center Pack, which adds TV recording abilities (presuming your machine has a TV tuner built-in or you’re happy to attach a USB tuner). That costs a more reasonable $9.99 and can be purchased direct from Microsoft. The $249.99 Pro upgrade also includes this feature (and annoyingly, you can’t buy just Media Center on its own for standard Windows 8).

Learn The New Interface

If you’ve scored a machine with a touch interface, you’ll want to make sure you know all the Windows gestures. Many of these are self-evident, but it’s worth spending time to learn what some of the more complex options. Our complete guide to Windows 8 shortcuts and tricks has you covered, and there’s a handy summary guide as well. There are mouse equivalents of those gestures that are also worth learning.

If you’re more of a keyboard freak, then check out the Top 10 Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts. Most familiar keyboard shortcuts from earlier versions (such as Alt-Tab to switch apps and Control-C to copy) continue to work.

Tweak The Windows 8 Interface

The modernised Windows 8 interface doesn’t take that much effort to get used to, and definitely makes sense if you’re making use of a touch screen. However, if you want to restore some of the features of earlier Windows environments, it’s easy to do that. Want a traditional Start menu to go alongside the new Start screen? Classic Shell has you covered. Check out our full guide on fixing Windows 8 annoyances for more ideas on interface tweaks.

Discover Hidden Features

When you first start using Windows 8, the modernised interface is likely to be what grabs your attention, but there are lots of useful features buried further inside the operating system, including automatic backups and syncing with other Windows devices. Head to our guide to the best hidden Windows 8 features to learn more.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the Windows 8 Ultimate Buyers Guide.