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7/7/2014
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Windows 8.1 Multitasking: 5 Tips

To multitask in Windows 8, you had to jump between drastically different UIs. But Windows 8.1 changes that: Get more productive using these tips.

Microsoft Office For iPad Vs. iWork Vs. Google
Microsoft Office For iPad Vs. iWork Vs. Google
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Heading into July, just under half the combined Windows 8 and 8.1 user base is still using the first version of the new operating system. That's puzzling. After all, critics and users both trashed Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 Update has earned significantly better marks.

Some of the resistance to Windows 8.1 can be explained. A number of users have experienced update problems, the most extreme and long-running of which simply disallows Windows 8.1 from installing through the Windows Store. Microsoft is working on a fix. But the problem isn't widespread enough to explain why half the Win 8/8.1 user base has stuck with the maligned original version.

New device sales contribute to Windows 8.1's share, which means that among Windows 7 users who upgraded to Windows 8, a huge number -- perhaps over half -- have ignored upgrades. These people use non-touch machines, which only makes their hesitancy more baffling. Whereas Windows 8 is awkward for mouse-and-keyboard users, Windows 8.1 Update works well on both touch and traditional hardware.

[Does Microsoft finally have a winning tablet? Read Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Customers Speak.]

Some industry watchers, including those with ties inside the company, have said the Windows 8 brand is tarnished beyond repair. The operating system's poor reputation explains, or so the commentary goes, why Microsoft is allegedly barreling toward a new Windows version codenamed Threshold. Likely to launch as Windows 9, it reportedly will restore the Start menu to the desktop interface and de-emphasize Live Tiles for non-tablet devices, among other major changes. Have Windows 8 users become so disenchanted they have simply lost faith in Microsoft and are dismissing subsequent updates?

Whatever the reason for hesitancy, if you're still using the original version of Windows 8, especially on anything other than a traditional tablet, consider giving Windows 8.1 a try. No, it's not perfect, but it's miles ahead of the Frankenstein-esque original edition, especially if you're a multitasker.

To multitask in Windows 8, you had to jump between drastically different UIs, but the newest versions offer a much more cohesive and productive experience. Whether you're new to Windows 8.1 Update or an experienced user looking to hone your multitasking skills, we've got you covered. Here are five tips to get you started.

1. One person's tool is another person's distraction.
If you didn't like Windows 8's changes, the OS didn't give you many options. Want to boot directly to the desktop? Too bad. But Windows 8.1 Update is much more flexible. It not only recognizes whether it's running on a tablet or PC and attempts to choose the right settings, but also gives you plenty of options to customize the interface to your preference. With a few minutes' work in PC Settings, you can enable or disable a variety of features, such as boot-to-desktop mode and smart corners. If you want a touch-centric Tile interface, you got it. If you want Windows 8.1 Update to act like a faster, more secure version of Windows 7 (minus the Start menu), you can more or less do that, too.

There are several ways to get started. From the Start screen, you can click the new PC Settings Live Tile, or activate the Charms menu (swipe from the right of a touchscreen, or mouse to the top-right hot corner) and select Change PC Settings. Once you've reached PC Settings, choose PC and devices, which includes a variety of personalization controls.

2. Use the taskbar to switch between legacy and Modern apps.
If you use both Modern and desktop apps, the taskbar makes a great navigation center. In Windows 8.1 Update, you can pin both types of apps to the taskbar. By launching apps from the taskbar (instead of, say, the Start screen, or a desktop shortcut), you'll save yourself the disruption of jumping between the desktop and the tiled Start screen. When Modern apps launch,

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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anon3952195041
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33%
anon3952195041,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 12:45:49 PM
The devil!
Windows is the devil! use Ubuntu!
bimplebean
100%
0%
bimplebean,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 11:09:38 AM
Choice
It's always about choice. I installed StartIsBack and had a Windows 7 machine, albeit with the superior security and speed of a new OS along with the simpler Aero-free UI. No big. 

But I understand everyone's hatred of the new UI. For several years now Microsoft has been undermining, hiding and de-emphasising user interface standards they've promoted and lived by since the mid 80s, most notably in Windows and Office. It's foolish. Menus are gone or hidden, with busy, bulky ribbons taking their place. Shortcut key indicators are invisible unless you press the alt key, the help button is relegated to a tiny icon at top right -- the discoverability -- and much of the usability -- is gone. Hopefully they've learned their lesson and will return to better form with Windows 9.
moonwatcher
50%
50%
moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 10:43:59 AM
Why half haven't upgraded - maybe?
Maybe half haven't upgraded because they don't KNOW they need to upgrade. Calling the follow on update to the original Windows 8.1 "update" was beyond dumb. When I ask friends,  relatives, and co-workers what version of Windows 8 they are running most don't have a clue. And the only way to tell if you do have Windows 8.1 UPDATE is checking the infernal Metro interface to see if you have a search box in the upper right corner. The O/S doesn't report what version of Windows you are running other than 8 or 8.1. The idiots at Microsoft should have called the Windows 8.1 UPDATE, Windows 8.2 and been done with it. At least the non-geek masses might have figured it out. Only by poking and proding my friends have I been able to get them to get the far better for desktop users Windows 8.1 UPDATE.

On one machine I upgraded for a friend (from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 UPDATE) the update kept dying until I temporarily disabled her virus software. She would never have figured out she wasn't getting the update or any subsequent patches.
KarlksW003
50%
50%
KarlksW003,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 10:31:40 AM
8.1
This OS will go down in history as one of the most poorly designed, unintuitive, and least user friendly OS's ever made. It's a pile of steaming garbage designed to drive traffic to the Microsoft Store "Apps", which no one asked for or wanted.

 

With the introduction of the Ribbon garbage, windows 8, "subscription" software, and the forced kinect always online xbone fiasco, it seems that Microsoft is becoming more and more out of touch with its users.
anon4444522735
50%
50%
anon4444522735,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2014 | 9:43:25 AM
Vista is gaining over 8/8.1
http://whatreallyhappened.com/fr/content/windows-7-xp-and-even-vista-gain-market-share-again
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