The new Windows 8 Start Screen

Perhaps, the most controversial decision of Microsoft in Windows 8 is the removal of Start Menu. An unfamiliar user will be shocked to see the absence of Start Button and the Start Menu. Instead, he will be greeted by a screen filled with colorful rectangular tiles.

Yes, that is the new Start Menu, now called the Start Screen.

The main components of the Start Screen are the lively looking colorful tiles, each representing an application. They are similar to application icons, but they do much more than a static icon.

Customization of the Start Screen

It is extremely customizable. Each tile can be arranged at any position that you like, through drag and drop. This flexibility of arranging tiles according to your taste is a great killer feature. Divide the tiles in any types of blocks you want to, like, a browser block containing all the browsers, an entertainment block containing Photos, Video, Music, and other entertainment apps, a social block containing Twitter app, People app, Mail app, Messaging app, etc.

The bottom line is: No two customized Start Screens will ever look same!

Here is my customized Start Screen as an example.

Figure 2 Customize Start Screen to make it look what you like it to be

Figure 2 Customize Start Screen to make it look what you like it to be

I have simply arranged the tiles in a way that I get to access my most frequently used applications as fast as possible (laziness, you see!).

You can pin new programs to the Start Screen, including the traditional apps. Just use the option “Pin to Start” in the context menu of a program.

Figure 3 Pin a traditional app to Start Screen

Figure 3 Pin a traditional app to Start Screen

The Start Screen itself has several contextual options. If you click on an empty part of the Start Screen, it will give you a toggle option to show/hide all the apps. This will change the Start Screen to show tiles for all the installed apps, instead of only selected ones.

Figure 4 Context option to show all installed apps

Figure 4 Context option to show all installed apps

Figure 5 Start Screen showing all installed apps

Figure 5 Start Screen showing all installed apps

Customize a Tile

You can customize a single tile. Right click on the tile that you want to customize. A context menu will slide up from the bottom for the tile. You can toggle the tile size (larger or smaller), unpin the tile so that it no longer displays on the Start Screen, or uninstall the app corresponding to the tile.

Figure 6 Various options to customize a tile

Figure 6 Various options to customize a tile

You can also customize multiple tiles at once. Right click on all the tiles that you want to cuztomize. This will slide up a context menu from the bottom. At this time, the only customization available is to unpin multiple tiles.

Figure 7 Customize multiple tiles at once

Figure 7 Customize multiple tiles at once

Settings Charm of Start Screen

The Start Screen has its own Settings Charm. It provides options like clearing live data on the tiles, toggle display of tiles for administrative tools, and a menu to help you navigate your ways around the Start Screen.

Figure 8 Settings Charm of Start Screen

Figure 8 Settings Charm of Start Screen

Figure 9 Tiles Setting in Settings Charm

Figure 9 Tiles Setting in Settings Charm

Figure 10 Help settings in Settings Charm

Figure 10 Help settings in Settings Charm

User Account Options on Start Screen

Other than that, Start Screen gives you user account options like

  • Change account picture.
  • Lock the screen.
  • Sign out of the user account.
  • Switch to another user account.
Figure 11 User account options on Start Screen

Figure 11 User account options on Start Screen

Conclusion

The newly introduced Start Screen is highly customizable. It becomes what you want it to be. Your wish is its command. It provides you with plethora of information, options to launch and uninstall applications, user account settings, etc. It follows the Metro concept of emphasizing content beautifully.

Please Leave Your Comments Below...