Windows 8: Your questions answered

You ask Windows 8 questions, I (try to) answer them!
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

I've been hit by a lot of Windows 8 related questions over the past few hours. I'll do my best to answer a few of them in this post.

Feel free to ask your own question in the TalkBack, on Twitter, or hit me up via the contact form.

OK, let's get going.

Q #1 - Is there an option to allow you to boot direct to the traditional Windows Desktop and bypass the Metro UI stuff?

A - Nope, there's no 'official' toggle that I can find anywhere. It can be done via a registry hack, and there's an unofficial third-party app for disabling the Metro UI (which just seems to implement the registry hack), but nothing official.

Q #2 - How integrated is the antivirus solution? What does it look like?

A - It's all part of Windows Defender. There's an entry in Action Center in Control panel:

And there's the Windows Defender application:

Q #3 - Can you get to the old-school-style Start Menu?

A - Not by any official means other than by digging through hidden folders in the file system. If you disable the Metro UI (see answer to Q #1 above) then it reappears.

Q #4 - What happens when you install an old-school-style application?

A - A link to the application appears as a new tile in the Metro UI.

Q #5 - Can you organize tiles?

A - Only by dragging them about. There does not seem to be any way to logically group them otherwise.

Q #6 - Other than launching an app, what can you do from the Metro UI tile screen?

A - You can:

- Drag them about

-  Right-clicking on an app from the Microsoft Store brings up the option to unpin, uninstall and, in some cases, resize the tile (only two settings, larger and smaller)

- If you right-click on an application tile, you get the option to unpin and an advanced option which brings up a set of options

Next -->

Q #7 - Is it buggy?

A - Hell yeah!

Q #8 - Is the Windows Registry still there?

A - Since I've already mentioned Registry hacks, you can guess the answer to this!

Q #9 - If the Start menu is gone, what does the Start button do?

A - Two things:

- Taking you pointer to the lower-left hand of the screen brings up this:

- Clicking on Start toggles between the classic desktop and the Metro UI tiles screen

Q #10 - Can I virtualize Windows 8 yet?

A - I've only been able to get it to run in VirtualBox so far.

Here’s how!

Note: Your PC must support hardware virtualization for this to work.

  1. Download and install VirtualBox (I’m using this because it’s free so you don’t have to shell out on virtualization software … don’t say I never give you anything!).
  2. Download the Windows 8 ISO from here. So far I’ve only tested this with the 32-bit ISO.
  3. Create a new VirtualBox virtual machine. Call it whatever you want but select Windows 7as the OS type.
  4. In the Motherboard tab under System, check Enable IO APIC.
  5. In the Processor tab under System, check Enable PAE/NX.
  6. In the Acceleration tab under System, check Enable VT-x/AMD-V and Enable Nested Paging.
  7. In the Video tab under Display, check Enable 2D acceleration.
  8. Remember to mount the Windows 8 .ISO file you downloaded and you’re good to go!

Q #11 - Is Windows 8 faster or slower than Windows 7?

A - Pointless question at this stage given how early a build this is ... it's not even a beta. However, Windows 8 is certainly lighter on system resources.

Q #12 - What happens to the Metro UI when you run an old-school application?

A - You click on the app, then there's a transition to the classic desktop, and then the app runs. Right now this feels clumsy and unfinished.

Q #13 - Is Windows Activation still present?

A - There's no key needed for the Windows 8 developer build, but it's still there.


If you have any more questions, feel free to get in touch with me.

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