Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Getting started with Microsoft Windows 8

Poor old Microsoft. Ballmer and Company just can’t catch a break.

People who know me as loyal to Apple (I use a MacBook Pro and iPod Touch) will be surprised to find out that what I wrote above isn’t meant as sarcasm. I’ve used Windows 8 and Windows RT. Outside of a few flaws and Microsoft’s continuing vulnerability to the whims of PC and tablet manufacturers, I sincerely like the new Windows. I even helped somebody choose a Lenovo IdeaPad at CostCo earlier this year. She uses it mainly to connect to the servers at her office using Windows Remote Desktop, and it meets her modest computing needs.

Yet earlier this month, Microsoft caught the blame for a steep decline in PC sales.

Windows 8 is certainly a departure from Windows 7, and the huge visual differences may intimidate would-be computer buyers. But the aforementioned manufacturers also need to help owners of new Windows 8 machines get used to them. That isn’t always happening.

Let’s go back to that Lenovo purchase. I deliberately did not hover as the new IdeaPad was unboxed and the new owner started to use it. But she was stumped when she couldn’t find any basic instructions that explain how to use Windows 8.

Sure, the initial configuration screen shows some instructions, but once those are gone, how do you find them again?

Ideally, Lenovo should have included PRINTED instructions on how to use Windows 8. That’s it! Basic computer users (i.e. 90 per cent of the people who will buy computers) will be able to go back to the familiar medium of paper to help them figure things out when they need to.

I doubt Lenovo is the only manufacturer who omitted this basic courtesy to its customers. So to help rectify the problem, I pasted a guide to the basics of Windows 8/RT usage here. It’s part of a product guide Microsoft gave me, and now I’m giving it to you. Download it and share it (especially pages 18 to 27) with anybody struggling to figure out the new Windows. It isn’t so bad once you get used to it. You might find, like I did, that it’s innovative, easy to get used to and an improvement over previous versions of Windows.