The Windows 8 Developer Preview is out for all to try, and there are all sorts of hidden little features in the new OS. As you're playing with it this weekend, here are some that we recommend checking out..
We'll be talking more about the big stuff next week (like the new Metro interface, the new version of Explorer, and more), but as this week draws to a close we've already noticed a lot of cool little Windows 8 tips pop up around the net, so we decided to share them with you all at once.
If you have a Windows Live ID, you're probably using that to log into Windows 8 (though of course, you can always make your own local account as well). However, by default, you have to log in every time you boot up your machine. If you find this tedious and unnecessary, you can easily edit your preferences to automatically log in to Windows 8. Similarly, you've probably noticed there's no "Hibernate" option in the shutdown menu. It's there, you just have to reveal the Hibernate button by digging into Windows' new power settings.
While the Metro interface may be touch-oriented, it still has some pretty handy new keyboard shortcuts you can use to control it (though they'll work on the desktop too). If you don't like the new Shut Down menus, you can create your own shortcuts for shut down, reboot, and others, and create your own Metro tiles for them. Or, better yet, stick them on the desktop, since the Shut Down function is now a few annoying clicks away.
And, speaking of the traditional desktop, if you'd prefer to turn Metro off entirely, you have a few choices. This registry tweak will bring back the old Start menu, as well as the old, ribbon-less Explorer and the old Task Manager. If you like the new Explorer, though, you can ditch the Metro UI and bring back just the old Start menu using a small utility called MetroController.
Of course, the Metro UI isn't the only thing new in Windows 8. The desktop may look pretty similar to Windows 7, but its got its own little enhancements too. The taskbar jumplists come with some enhanced privacy options in Windows 8, and if you're using dual monitors, you'll notice that the taskbar stretches across both monitors by default. Of course, you can turn this off just by right-clicking on the taskbar, going to Properties, and unchecking "Show Taskbar on All Displays". You'll also notice it now supports dual-monitor wallpapers if you go into "Appearance and Personalization" in the Control Panel.
Windows 8 also has some nice things going on behind the scenes. We've seen that the Blue Screen of Death has become a little more friendly, and Windows also has some nice, updated malware protection built-in. Possibly most exciting is the new method for installing drivers — now, devices can only install one piece of software when you plug them in, which will (hopefully) lead to less bloatware with your drivers (printers, anyone?). And, lastly, Internet Explorer 10 can run in 64-bit mode, you just have to enable it manually in the Internet Options. Photo by Chip Hazard.
These are just a few of the new features in Windows 8, of course. We'll be going through the big stuff next week, and you can always check out this list to see the other 300+ features Microsoft is working on, but hopefully this gives you a few things to play with on your Windows 8 system this weekend. While you're at it, check out our other Windows 8 coverage from this week, including:
- Our first look at Windows 8 and our condensed version of Microsoft's keynote
- How to dual boot Windows 8 with Windows 7 and seamlessly share your data between them
- How to install Windows 8 in a virtual machine (if dual booting isn't your thing)
Have you discovered any hidden Windows 8 features in your travels? Let us know about them in the comments.