For Microsoft Kool-Aid Drinkers, Non-paid MS Evangelists written by a Senior Consultant, Passionate about Tech

All posts in Windows 8

TileGroupsHeader

So, I was talking to someone the other day about Windows 8.1 and how amazing it really is to work with in all of my environments.  They mentioned that the one thing they wish they could do is organize their start screen and have it be more functional like their old desktop.  I nearly fell off of my seat.  Uh, more functional like the desktop?   It didn’t take long for me to convince him that the new start screen is by far more useful than the old desktop.  For example, to really organize your desktop icons, you needed to move them around and place them into groups. Or use a third party tool.  You would also have to rename them so that you could actually understand what they were.  Not only were they hard to read, but very hard to use on a touch screen.  Add moving them around on multiple monitors and resolutions, yikes!!  If I think about how terrible the old desktop was, I might start having nightmares again.  So, I will stop there.

I started to talk more about live tiles,  moving one or more icons with semantic zoom and resizing them.  He already knew about all of that, but I happened to notice that he had a variety of large and small groups, but I couldn’t figure out what they represented for him.  So, I asked him why he didn’t name his groups.  He said, “I hadn’t even thought of that.”

So, today, I thought I would give you a quick tip on naming the groups of tiles you have on your start screen.

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LockscreenImageNow that most of us have a camera in our pocket, we snap a picture at everything that moves us.  Then we share it on our plethora of social networks.  Why not showcase those bad boys off to the world?  Okay, maybe not to the world, but how about to anyone that walks by our device or home PC?

Well, Windows 8.1 allows you to show off all your pictures in all of their glory.  Show people your ski vacation, summer retreat, fun family pictures, your nature walks or even that crazy guy doing street tricks on your walk to work.  Windows will create a unique slideshow with collages, full screen pictures and a number of animations to bring them all to life.  Did you know it will also pick images from the last year if you let it?  Yeah, I know, pretty darn cool!  I have heard that it also selects images based on the time of year, however, I haven’t taken the time to research the truth to that rumor.

Are you interested?  Well, let’s begin…

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imageWindows 8.1.  Wow.  Some really great changes from Windows 8.  Wow.  I mean, look at that Start screen.   Wow, it is beautiful.  Isn’t it?  Those tiles just pop out and give you so much information.  Wow.  I don’t even have to open up half of my applications anymore.  Wow, just look at how much more information you can get by just looking at your screen.   Did, the old desktop give that much information (without widgets of course)?  Wow, it is amazing.

So, you love the “Wow” factor of Windows 8 as well?  What is that?  You want more “Wow”?  Well, the great thing is that in Windows 8.1, you can get even larger tiles for even more information!!  And “Wow”.

Okay, enough with the “Wow”s for a while and let’s see how we can make a tile larger.  First thing to note is that an application has to support the larger tile format.  Let’s take a look at one that does.

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RecycleBinRemember back in the good old days when things were running slow, you could go to your recycle bin on your desktop and delete files permanently in hopes that it would help performance?  Well, with Windows 8.1, unless you have it setup to go directly to the desktop on startup (see my posts on Windows 8.1 Tips and Tricks:  How to boot to desktop and Windows 8 Tip #4 – Pin Any File to Start Screen), you need to go to your Start Screen, click on the desktop tile, then double click on the Recycle Bin.  Geez, that seems like a lot of work.

Truthfully, unless you like to manage your Recycle Bin regularly, you probably only do it once every month or so.  Maybe even less often.  However, if you are a Recycle Bin Junky (tee hee), you might want a quicker way to access it, say, through the Start Screen, via a tile.  I mean, isn’t there a simple way to do this and still do most of my work in Metro?  Well, yes, slightly.  It is actually really easy to setup.  Let’s take a look. Read more


Win8Desktop

So, you still aren’t sold out on the new Start Screen for WIndows 8.1?  Well, my 2 cents.  You are crazy!  But, as they say, “you can lead a house to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  That applies to you, but hey, I guess I have to live with it.  I mean, it is your life.  My gut feeling is that you probably really haven’t given it much of a try.  But hey, up to you.  Is it the beauty of it that you don’t like?  That’s okay.  Is it that you want to go into your application to find quick information instead of just looking in one place?  Cool, I understand that there are people who really like to stay in their rut and keep doing the same things.  Maybe you like using the old Start Menu instead of a Start Screen with more functionality.  Nice.

 

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imageRunning Windows 8 and not able to figure out how to close the Windows Store application you have open?  Where are the close buttons?  Are they hidden?  Do you need to turn them on in some kind of hidden settings panel?

A new design feature in Windows 8 is the removal of the close buttons.  Applications are now suspended when you move away from them.  This allows the system to maximize your systems resources.  This is a very good thing.

The bad thing is the system will also shutdown your application without telling you when it needs more resources to do more important things.  But it never tells you.  They just magically disappear.  It does however save the context of the application so that when you run it again, it will start the application from where it was before it was shutdown.

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PanoramExampleOne of the coolest design elements of a Windows Phone application is the parallax effect that uses the background image to make the content pop out at the user.  You probably won’t believe this, but yes, Microsoft had one of the coolest design concepts in their mobile platform before even Apple.  Apple is just getting this effect in iOS 7.  Over 2 years after Microsoft introduced it in Windows Phone 7.

Okay, so we have gone over how to use Metro Studio, by SyncFusion,  to create splash screens, Metro Studio, Part 1 – Splash Screen, and icons/tiles, Metro Studio, Part 2 – Icons and Tiles.  Now, let’s use the parallax effect in our application.  The best part is that it is already built into the controls that come with the Windows Phone SDK.  It is called the Panorama control and allows us to easily set a property defining the background image that it uses.

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