What Resources are there for Trainers and others needing to get across Windows 8?

Windows 8 itself

Running Windows 8 on a PC or virtual machine will help and its not too hard to set up. I have been working through the book below over the last couple of days, and it is invaluable to be able to jump out into Windows to try a feature when you get to it in the book.


There is a growing range of Windows 8 books available, via Safari Books Online I have been using and recommend  Paul Thurrott and Rafael Riviera’s Windows 8 Secrets. (John Wiley & Sons)

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Windows 8 – Where is the Start button?

Where is the Windows 8 Start menu – rather than adding in a third party replacement, I explore rearranging the tiles and few useful keyboard shortcuts.

First one created using Camtasia – Please adjust the volume to suit.

Windows 8 on Desktop – The trick is to organise the start screen

Working through the Windows 8 for IT Pros Jump Start videos and just had a penny drop with a thump. My first impression was that without the Start button, end users will find Windows 8  frustrating on the desktop. The trick is to organise your tiles into logical groups for your organisation. Sorting out the grouping could be challenge – my suggestion would be to borrow a principle from web design – that is to organise content from the perspective of the end user, not the organisation. This might mean different teams get different groups of applications on the left – to suit their needs and view of the world. Going for bigger tiles for organisations with older users? – I have just entered the trifocal zone of life and I  find the smaller tiles are OK.

So if the apps are well grouped, I could argue it is more convenient than the old start button – especially where applications were buried in sub menus in the past – they can now been brought to the “surface” more easily.

Continue reading “Windows 8 on Desktop – The trick is to organise the start screen”

Windows 8 Better impressions

One of the roles of this blog is for me to share what I have learned (and to write it down so I remember!)

I have been watching the Windows 8 Jump Start series at the Microsoft web site

Learned a few things that in combination to a few days practical exposure to Windows 8 have substantially improved my impressions of Windows 8 on the desktop, including:

  • To Search, Windows key and type part or all the name of the application or file you are looking for – it works as advertised and is a feature will appeal to end users
  • Rename and rearrange the groups on the Start screen (the interface previously known as Metro) – this is a feature I can see IT areas using to make directing users to apps easier
  • Windows Key + C to open the “Charms”
  • Windows key + X brings up a handy little system tools menu (I can see I am going to have to learn the proper names of these features!
  • Storage Spaces – gives users the ability to duplicate data from one drive to another – effectively a kind of easy RAID like tool for users
Also reading Windows 8 in Depth by Knittel and McFedries. Waiting for Paul Thurrott’s new book to come on to Safari Books Online.
More study on Widows 8 tomorrow – and then venturing into Office 365/Office 2013 and Captivate 6 and Acrobat XI from the Adobe world…


Windows 8 and Office 2013 Evaluation – First Impressions

Before I do the permanent set up of my new PC, I took the opportunity to set it up with Windows 8 and Office 2013. These are my first impressions, based on a few hours exploring ans installing and are mostly good to excellent, with one major exception. So let’s get that out of the way.

Windows 8 is Different

My first impression is, that if implemented in its standard form, Windows 8 will drive most regular desktop PC based end users nuts with frustration.  The interface might initially be too different for them. Discussions I have heard about organisations considering customised desktops now make sense.

As a non typical, but largely desktop based end user, I was within about 30 minutes beginning to get a feel for where things would be, and easily connecting to Twitter  LinkedIn and Google and installing IIS and Hyper V tools. I can see users having a  good experience with a touch screen.

Shame about the Windows 8 interface, because Office 2013 is really very impressive.  Windows 8 and Office 2013 are clearly meant to go together. I have had comments from colleagues about the Office 2013 interface. On Windows 8 it looks at home. Even on a desktop PC.

So what is impressive about Office 2013?

The connection to SharePoint and Office 365.

Over recent months as I find myself training on site more and more, I am seeing the value of having my documents and resources in a SharePoint library in the “cloud” . My recent PC troubles have confirmed this is the direction for my company and training documents.

Previously the value in Office 365 for me was in exchange based email and SharePoint Calendars. My document creation process is still local disk based with some documents going to SharePoint libraries. In part because the integration between Office on the desktop and SharePoint online wasn’t seamless.

In Office 2013, the integration to Office 365  is easy to set up and seamless once done. When I go to my  permanent set up on my PC I will be directing my documents directly into SharePoint as they are created. And I will be finding the time to upgrade my laptop as well, to get the same integration there as well.

The Office 365 integration makes sharing, collaborating and accessing documents for mobile or dispersed end users in small and very small organisations very, very easy. It brings out the true potential of Office 365 much more that Office 2010 did. Used to its potential this could give a nimble small organisation a flexible edge over some corporate dinosaur stuck on Office 2003. At modest cost too.

Office 2013 probably has other features, I was so taken with trying the SharePoint/Office 365 integration I didn’t even notice…

More on that another time.

Adobe E-Learning Suite

Also more on installing Adobe E-Learning Suite on Windows 8 next time. (Acrobat X Professional doesn’t install – but Acrobat XI might…)