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The top 10 Windows 8 questions everyone asks

Lincoln Spector | June 30, 2014
Here are the 10 most common ones we hear about Microsoft's latest operating system. With these answers under your belt, you can consider yourself well past the beginner stage.

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You've finally made the leap to Windows 8 (or, more probably, Windows 8.1), and a pretty big leap it was. Everything looks different. Everything acts differently. Even a simple task like shutting down your PC suddenly becomes a challenge.

We know. We've lived through Windows 8, too, and we've received many, many questions about it. Here are the 10 most common ones we hear about Microsoft's latest operating system. With these answers under your belt, you can consider yourself well past the beginner stage.

1. What's the differences between Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and the Windows 8.1 Update?
To start the confusion, there are three versions of Windows 8:

· The original Windows 8

· The much-improved Windows 8.1

· The even-better Windows 8.1 Update, though saddled with an idiotic name

How do you tell which you have? Go to the Desktop environment and look in the lower-left corner. If there's no Start button, you've got the original Windows 8.

If there's a Start button, click or tap it to go to the Start screen. Look in the upper-right corner. If there's a magnifying-glass icon, you have Windows 8.1 Update.

If you have the Start button, but not the magnifying glass, you have Windows 8.1, without the Update. In that case, you need update KB2919355. Microsoft is patching Windows 8 and the Windows 8.1 Update, but not Windows 8.1 without the Update. Without patches, Windows becomes less secure.

Besides, the Windows 8.1 Update is by far the easiest and friendliest version of Windows 8 so far. Finally, the two user interfaces—Modern and Desktop—appear to be cooperating.

The good news: If you have a new computer, it's almost certainly running Windows 8.1 with the Update.

2. What about the Start menu?
From the very birth of Windows 8, this was the biggest complaint: "Where's the Start menu?" 

Even with the improvements of 8.1 and the 8.1 Update, which brought back the Start button, there's still no Start menu.

One could argue that the Start screen—which is what you get when you click the 8.1 Start button—can do everything that the Start menu can. Except that it can't. You can't hover the mouse over a Modern tile and get a submenu of files recently opened in that application. And the Start screen just doesn't feel right. When you're working in a windowing environment like the Desktop, you don't want to be thrown into a bad-imitation iPad just to launch a program.

Luckily, where Microsoft fails, others provide. You can find plenty of third-party Start menus for Windows 8, and many of them are free.

 

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