Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Changing PC Settings in Windows 8

Windows 8 will be released October 26, so I thought I would get some of my "to-do" guides here on the blog. I've been testing Windows 8 at work for quite some time now and I haven't ran into any production issues yet. Our production apps run just fine in Windows 8, the only hurdle we'll have (should we decide to use it - we actually have no "need" to upgrade) is user training because Windows 8 is so, so, so different in functionality than previous Windows systems. Anyway, this blog post is on getting to and changing PC settings in Windows 8.

1. When booted into Windows 8, click on the desktop tile.
2. When in the desktop, lower your mouse pointer to the bottom right and wait just a second. A sidebar should appear with icons like "search," "devices," etc.

3. Click on settings. After clicking on settings, a turquoise sidebar will appear with various options. Choose "change PC settings"

4. Now you should see the beautiful PC Settings area for Windows 8. There are many settings to configure.

5. Personalize
You have the option of changing settings for the lock screen, start screen and your account picture. Under lock screen, you can change the lock image from a decent amount of images preloaded on Windows 8 or from your own collection of images. The choice is yours, though it's difficult to beat the gorgeous images that come with Windows 8.

You can also change lock screen apps. These are apps that run in the background and will continue to give you updates while in "locked" mode, e.g. the email app will give you a notification of a new email on your lock screen. The three that run in the background by default are: instant messaging, email, and calendar. You can add more. Some even have the option of giving a detailed status like the calendar app.

Start Screen. The settings for this deal with the background art for the start screen and the color. By default the color is turquoise and has the circle art. You have 6 choices to choose from for the background of the start screen: 5 designs and then the option of no design. The color options offer a healthy amount of choices.

Account Picture. Not much to see here. There is the "browse" button for choosing from pictures currently installed on your PC or you can create an account picture if you have a webcam by using the webcam app.

6. Users 
This section deals with user settings for the PC: local and domain. If you're connected to a domain, then you many or may not have privilege to change your domain user settings depending on your domain policies. The first button we see is "connect your Microsoft account" which if chosen will sync your domain settings with your Microsoft account settings. I'm not entirely sure on how this works yet. I've read different things, but my theory is that web-facing apps you personally use will utilize your Microsoft account settings while domain stuff like group policy and such will utilize your domain settings allowing the two settings to work harmoniously together.

The "manage domain users" stuff works like windows 7. When clicked, you will be taken to desktop mode to tinker around with the domain users for the PC. You can also add a user here. When clicked you will be taken through the "add a user" wizard.

7. Notifications 
This is a simple section. You can turn on and off notifications for apps and whether notifications are shown at all or in lock screen or heard.

8. Search
You can choose how search works. Turn on or off features like "show the apps I search most often at the top" and "let windows save my searches as future search suggestions." You can delete search history and turn on or off the apps you want to use search.

9. Share 
This area is limited. The two top options are turn on or off whether you want to see apps most often used at top and show a list of how you share most often. At the bottom you have two apps to choose from for turning on and off their sharing ability: mail and people. Of course, this a fresh install PC. I don't have many apps installed, I'm sure when the list of apps installed grows more will be populated in this "share" list.

10. General
Usually general settings aren't very fun. They are usually confined to date/time, spelling, language, and such and all of that is here in Windows 8's general settings, but there are two very exciting features here in the general settings: refresh your PC without affecting your files and Reinstall Windows. I'm very excited about these two features. The first option "refreshes" your pc without losing, photos, music, and other personal files (system restore?) and the second option is for staring all over - factory fresh. This is very nice.

11. Privacy 
Ah yes the privacy settings. Not much to see here. These are turn on or off functions for the following: apps use my location, let apps access my domain info, and let help improve windows store by sending URLs apps use.

12. Devices 
This section gives a list of devices connected your PC locally and via the network. You can also add a device here.

13. Ease of Access 
In this section there are on/off functions for making the display and audio better for you. Narration is here, length of time notifications are shown, and cursor thickness.

14. Sync Settings
This section is for users who have settings synced between their local/domain account and Microsoft account. There are many options to choose from: personalize, desktop, passwords, ease of access, language, app settings, browser, and other windows settings.

15. Homegroup 
This is for home networks. What's shared, what isn't, and privacy stuff.

16. Windows Update
Check for updates, choose your update method.

I didn't include a screenshot for every setting because that would have been overkill I think. I decided to take a text approach. I did include a screenshot of the main PC settings screen and from that you can probably tell how each section will look and feel. I hope this has been helpful.

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