Windows 8 Tips For Professionals

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 1, 2012
Updated • Mar 6, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

Even if you are a tech savvy user, it will take some time before you understand the workflow and functionality of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system. The change from a desktop-orientated system to a Metro and desktop hybrid may throw you off at first as basic features have been changed in the operating system. This guide looks at those features from a professional perspective.

Windows 8 ships with two interfaces currently. The start screen, known as Metro UI, which gets loaded when you log in, and the traditional desktop. It was previously possible to disable Metro UI to only work on the desktop. With recent changes, it is currently not possible. All the tools that worked in the Developer Preview are not working right now.

1. Switching between apps in Metro

You may have noticed that Metro apps and games start in fullscreen, and that you cannot close them down once they are started. There is no close button available, and the only way to get out of an app is to press the Windows key, or use the Charms menu which you can display when you hover your mouse cursor over the lower right edge of the screen.

You can switch between open apps and windows with Alt-Tab, which works exactly as it did under Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows. Windows 8's Alt-Tab displays both desktop windows and Metro apps.

2. Closing Metro apps

task manager

Metro apps keep running on the system even if you leave them using Alt-Tab. They use little to no resources and are basically put into sleep mode. The only option to close them down is to use Ctrl-Shift-Esc to bring up Metro UI's basic Task Manager to do that.

There are several reasons why you might want to close open apps. They first appear when you use Alt-Tab to switch between apps and windows. The more you have open, the longer it takes to find the app that you want to switch to. Privacy, and the urge to run a "clean system" may be other reasons for killing apps when you do not need to use them anymore.

You can click on More Details to display the full Task Manager instead.

3. Show administrative tools in Metro

Administrative tools are hidden by default, but you can enable them if you know where to look. Open the Charms menu by hovering the mouse cursor over the lower right corner of the screen. Select Settings, and then Settings again under Start at the top.

Switch Enable Administrative Tools from No to Yes. This adds 18 core system tools like the Task Scheduler, Event Viewer or Computer Management to the Metro interface.

4. MSConfig without startup information


If you have been using the built-in tool MSConfig to manage the system's startup programs, you'd be in for a surprise. Microsoft has moved the information from the system tool into the task manager. MSConfig still displays the list of services, boot information and links to tools though.

5. App History

app history

Windows keeps track of a system's application history. Apps in this regards are only Metro applications, and not desktop programs. You see the names of the apps that have eebn used, their cpu time, bandwidth and other information.

You can click on Delete Usage History to remove the resource usage information, but not the apps from the listing. It was previously possible to control the feature in the Privacy settings of the Metro Control Panel. The options were removed in the Consumer Preview.

There may be a setting in the Registry that deals with it, but I have not found it yet.

6. Synchronize settings

sync your settings

You may remember the announcement that Windows 8 can synchronize customized settings like themes or account pictures with the cloud, to make them available on every Windows 8 PC the user signs in with the same account.

You can configure the feature for each PC individually in the Sync your settings menu in the Metro Control Panel. To get there bring up the Charms menu, select Settings, then More PC Settings. Scroll down until you find Sync your Settings.

You can switch the synchronization feature off for the PC, or customize which information you want synced.

7. Just Type

type and run

When in Metro UI, you can just type to launch programs. Windows will not display all files matching the term you enter. This may be confusing at first, as regedit for instance returns no results. You can still hit the enter key to launch the Registry Editor, or other tools like msconfig in Metro.

The type, search and run feature only works on the Metro start page. It won't work if you have a Metro app open, and it won't work on the desktop as well.

8. Drag and Drop

You can drag and drop Metro apps around to sort them the way you want them to be in. This works ok-ish with a mouse or touch screen, and not so well if you only have a trackpad at your disposal. There does not seem to be a way to drag and drop multiple items at once either.

Still, if you want particular apps to appear in different locations, drag and drop is your only option to achieve that goal.

9. Uninstalling Apps

uninstall apps

If you do not use some of the default apps, or want to uninstall apps that you have tried out, you can do so quite easily. Right-click the app that you want to uninstall, and select the Uninstall option from the footer menu afterwards.

You can alternatively unpin the app from the start screen, which would keep it on the system, accessible through search for instance, but not on the Metro UI start screen.

10. Making apps larger or smaller

app size

You may have noticed that some apps take up more space on the start screen than others. Some apps are displayed with twice the size of others. A right-click and the selection of smaller or larger decreases or increases the size of the app on the screen.

11. Double-click to zoom out

A double-click on the Charms icon in the lower right corner of the screen zooms out of the start page. This makes it easier to navigate if you have lots of apps installed. You can also drag and drop blocks around instead of single apps.

12. Turn of Windows Store

Windows Store can be disabled in the Group Policy Editor. Type gpedit.msc in Metro and press enter. Now go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Store, and enable Turn off the Store application (or under Computer Configuration and the same path).


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.