Here’s Our Complete Guide to Windows 8

If you get a new computer this holiday season, it will come with Windows 8, and you’re wondering where to begin. Don’t worry, this guide has you covered.

During this holiday season, a lot of you will be getting new desktop and laptop computers, and chances are, it will come with Windows 8 pre-installed on it. If you’re coming from the Windows 7 environment, you’re probably wondering where to begin. We have you covered! Here’s a complete list of all articles we’ve written about Windows 8 that will help you master basic and advanced tasks and features.

When we originally posted this guide (November 2012), a lot of the articles were written using Windows 8, but since then, there are three big updates — Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Update 1. We’ve updated some of the articles to reflect the changes in Windows 8.1 and the concept of a lot of these articles is the same, the UI just looks a bit different.

If you find an article that could use an update, definitely let us know and we’ll fix it asap.

Not sure which version is right for you? Check out the difference between Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and RT.

Installing Windows 8

Using the New Modern “metro” Interface

The biggest new feature to get used to is its new touch-based Start screen with Live Tiles and metro-style apps. Here’s how to get around and start customizing the new interface.

Using Metro Style Apps

With the new Start screen comes the new metro-style apps. These are touch-friendly apps that are perfect for a tablet or other touch-enabled monitor but can be used on a regular desktop PC too.

Managing the Metro UI

The lack of a Start button has a lot of people upset, but there are third-party alternatives and ways to work around the familiar Start menu.

Shutdown Windows 8

Another confusing thing about the new Windows 8 interface is finding how to shut it down. These articles will show you the different ways you can do it.

Music, Video, and Photos

Windows 8 handles media files differently than previous versions. It comes with new apps called Xbox Music and Xbox Video. It also has new Camera and Photos apps. Another thing to remember is it doesn’t have built-in support for DVD or Blu-ray playback. Here are some great articles on learning how to use the new features, and using the programs you’re already familiar with like Windows Media Player, Media Center, and awesome third-party apps like VLC.

Using the Desktop and Advanced Features

Here’s a list of tips, tricks, and how-to articles for advanced power users who like to go deeper than the tiled touch UI and really get things done. These articles also include several new features available out of the box from the traditional desktop.

Windows RT (for the few of you who have an RT device)

Editor’s Note: We’ll be continuously adding more tips, tricks, and how-to articles to this guide every week. So make sure to bookmark the guide and return often. If you don’t see a topic here that you want us to cover, leave us a comment or shoot me an email to request!


  1. Ziggy

    November 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Brilliant! At last a one-stop station to fill up on Windows 8 information, tips and tricks. Thanks Brian and groovyPost! Keep up the good work…

  2. NickyA

    November 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    this is excellent, thanks

    • Brian Burgess

      November 8, 2012 at 3:28 am

      @NickyA:disqus You Bet! Make sure to bookmark this page. It will be continuously updated. Also, if there’s something you’d like to see, leave a comment or shoot us an email and we’ll get it up for ya.

  3. CAtransplant

    November 9, 2012 at 4:04 am

    This looks great, thanks! However, I still have one legacy app that I need to retain and run – how can I run an old DOS app in Win8?

    • Brian Burgess

      November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      @disqus_Y8IET0dYJ5:disqus You can try the DOSBox emulator. I haven’t tried it on Windows 8 but I would assume it runs fine on the desktop —

  4. ShockerSH

    November 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    great lead on getting the start menu back…. then again, don’t get me started on that.

    Great portal to your windows 8 stuff. Thnx

    • Austin Krause

      November 10, 2012 at 11:17 am

      I don’t want the start menu back, I just want the small search box from the bottom of it back.

      • Steve Krause

        November 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

        That’s how I was at first but now I just tap the windows key and start typing. Same thing really however it does bounce you between the desktop and metro start screen.

        • Brian Burgess

          November 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

          Yeah, that is all I really want back too is the Search field on the Desktop. Hitting the Windows Key and typing is alright, but bouncing between Metro is kind of annoying. I am sure a decent work around for that will come if it hasn’t already. We just need to find it!

          You know, you can use the Everything app on Win8 still:

          Then again, Microsoft is turning back the clock, In the end, we just need to start embracing the new UI I guess.

          On the other hand, it is a complete desktop OS, and a person should be able to customize it to their liking so it’s most efficient to get work done.

        • Jack Busch

          December 31, 2012 at 3:56 am

          oh god i didn’t even realize you could do that until just now

          All this is A LOT like Unity –

  5. Mike Rothman

    November 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Terrific post, Brian. I always know that has the best coverage, but this puts it all in one place. You should consider publishing this as an ebook!

    • Brian Burgess

      November 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      We’re looking into that actually. Want to help?

      • Mike Rothman

        November 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

        Certainly! Could me in. What needs doing?

  6. Tim Shubert

    November 16, 2012 at 4:59 am

    There’s a lot of Windows users out there, with great variations of computer skills and knowledge. One Windows will never fit all. Consider, if you will, multiple versions of Windows from Windows for Experts to Windows Dumbed-Way-Down. This looks like the DWD version. Let’s see what magic Julie has in store. I heard she is planning to skip Windows IX and go straight to Windows X.

    • Brian Burgess

      December 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      @twitter-97653813:disqus Yeah, I know Julie and her team are working on something, the code name “Blue” is being tossed around quite a bit. From what I understand, it will be the next version of Windows, but will be an upgrade to Win8. Also the company will be pushing out major updates on a yearly basis instead of a whole new thing every year…much like the way Apple does with OS X.

      Of course, that’s the rumor and I have no first hand knowledge of what’s coming next.

      • Steve Krause

        January 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm

        They need to adapt or be left behind. They can’t release something every 3 years and stay relevant. That’s just the way of the times.

  7. Leah Krause

    November 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Just got Windows 8 up and running! Thanks for this. I’m no longer staring at the screen in a daze. Lol

    • Steve Krause

      November 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Awesome! Glad we could help ya make sense of it!

      Be sure to tweet about it and give us a hand! :)

    • Brian Burgess

      December 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      @google-309761b06ae9a446870a618de71f7631:disqus That’s great! Looks like you’ve been using it for about a month now? What are your thoughts about it now?

      Is there anything not in this guide that you’d like us to write up?

  8. Hammad

    December 18, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Thats a great list. Awesome work brian…

  9. Alan

    January 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Just to let you know, the link to Four Ways to open the Charms Bar, is incorrect.

    • Brian Burgess

      January 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      @disqus_l5a46voR8b:disqus good catch! I fixed the link to go to the correct article. Thanks.

  10. Gerhard

    March 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Thank you for such a long articles. That’s a lot of read though :D Will have a lot of read for few days I guess.

    One question though? How does Windows 8 work with old SSD drivers? Do Win8 contains legacy drivers for old SSD drives?


    • Brian Burgess

      March 4, 2013 at 9:29 am

      @Gerhard do you mean SATA II vs SATA III SSDs? I don’t think you’d have any problems. Actually, Windows 8 does well with a lot of hardware drivers…I know, I know…some people will holler at me and say something doesn’t work right anymore, but for the most part, the new Windows 8 Driver architecture does a really good job working with virtually anything say from the past 5 years or so.

      I have to say it does far better than Vista ever did that’s for sure. Here’s a MS article about the driver architecture for hardware if you’re curious:

  11. Mike Good

    December 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Awesome! I couldn’t find a simple solution to simply play a DVD, and then your article came out. Thanks and I’m bookmarking this for future reference.

  12. Anchit Shethia

    December 28, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Super detailed article mate. A single page so handy :) Will save it to Pocket for future reference. I hope we won’t have much difference for Windows 10 as well!

  13. Dior Jordon

    December 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Very handy resource..thanks!

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