Windows 8: Working without Start Orb

I’ve been meaning to write about my Windows 8 experience since the OS debut back in September 2011. But never seemed to get around to putting fingers to keyboard. There’s been a lot of positive and negative press about how Windows 8 will be a game-changer. Along with comparisons to Apple’s iOS interface. Many writers also talk about how the lack of the Start Orb means this Windows version is useless. And other about how they are going to go back to Windows 7 or Vista or even Windows XP.

Yeah, right! The missing Start orb won’t be missed by me as I rarely used it. I always found conventional layer based menus rather slow since you had to flip through them as you find your way to whatever you were looking for. It was way simpler. And faster. To add shortcuts to your most frequently used apps in the Taskbar. And when you (eventually) run out of space, I recommend against stacking the Taskbar into multiple rows. Instead add a new Folder on the Desktop and place the rest of your shortcuts here. You have the option of adding a new Toolbar link. Just mouse over Taskbar, right-click to select New Toolbar which open the add folder dialog: Desktop > New Custom Folder) then Add select Desktop. Although I usually give my custom folder descriptive name like “Appz” or “Helpful Stuff” but whatever floats your boat, Honey!

I’ve been following this system since Windows XP. And have only used Start in its various avatars to open an application I used so once in a while that it didn’t merit its own Taskbar/Desktop shortcut.

In Windows 7 and Windows 8 the Run dialog (Windows key + R) is also a great way to launch apps as it stores previously-run links until you next purge your Explorer cache.

There’s a great video on the Windows 8 User Experience (see video below) by Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, at UX Week 2012. Use Windows 8 and you’ll never miss that bloody orb again. And if you are a Luddite, there are several free 3rd-party apps and even a Windows Registry hack to restore the Start orb if you need so very badly.

I’ve never understood why folks talk about using older versions of software. New means resolution of bugs and other irritants present in the previous version that have been (mostly) resolved. In Windows 8 though not only is there a whole new interface. But the overall quality has been improved. It runs faster. Looks better. Is way easier to use (Yes, even without the Start orb). And it does all this using less resources than its predecessors. Maybe because the core has been developed to work the same across mobile phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops. I’ve been testing the Developer Preview 64-bit (released September 2011) and Release Candidate 64-bit on an AMD Athlon X2 with 2 GB RAM and it runs as fast as if I had 4 GB installed!

More Windows 8 soon.

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