Opening the control panel is a pretty straightforward process in all versions of Windows except Windows 8. You simply click on Start and select Control Panel and *bam* there you have it. Windows 8 on the other hand has no start button anymore, that is, unless you do not add it again with the help of third party software like Start8, Classic Shell or Pokki.
If that is not enough, you will also find out eventually that Windows 8 does not ship with a single control panel. No, Microsoft decided to integrate two control panels into the system. So, how do you open the control panels in Windows 8, and what's the difference between them?
Why there are two control panels in Windows 8
As far as I know, there is no official wording why Microsoft made the decision to integrate another control panel into the Windows 8 operating system. The most likely explanation is that the company wanted to separate settings that modify start screen behavior with settings that affect the system as a whole.
The start screen interface is the part that Windows 8 boots in to on start, and it feels a lot like a second interface that Microsoft added to the classic desktop, especially if you are working on a desktop and not a touch-enabled device.
While it would have been possible to provide users with one control panel, for instance by adding a new category to the existing one that deals with all things start screen, Microsoft may have decided against this because of the screen switching it would involve.
Anyway, there are two control panels available and you need to use them both to effectively work on the system.
Control Panel 1: PC Settings
This is the start screen control panel. You can access it with a tap on Windows-i and the selection of Change PC settings on the Charms Bar (the sidebar that opens up when you run the shortcut).
PC Settings open up in full screen and the majority of changes that you can make here affect the start screen interface. From personalizing its look and feel to notification and searching settings. Some settings on the other hand are shared with the regular control panel, like the list of devices or homegroup settings.
Windows Update has also been integrated into this control panel.
Control Panel 2: Classic
Since there is no start menu displayed any more on the desktop, there need to be other ways to load the control panel. You can access it in the following ways:
- While on the desktop, press Windows-i and select Control Panel from the Charms Bar (not PC Settings).
- While on the desktop, press Windows-x and select Control Panel from the menu that opens on the screen.
- While on the desktop, press Windows-r to open up a run box, and enter control panel.
- While on the start screen, enter Control Panel and select it from the list of results.
A two control panel for one operating system approach is certainly confusing, and it may be that some users use one control panel all the time, or none if they do not know where to look, while there is another one (or two) waiting for them.Enjoyed the article?: Then sign-up for our free newsletter or RSS feed to kick off your day with the latest technology news and tips, or share the article with your friends and contacts on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ using the icons below.