With the Windows 8 launch fast approaching, I can already predict the call I’m going to get from my grandmother. Believe it or not, she’s a Windows power user. But before Windows XP, she thought a “cursor” is someone with a foul mouth, a “click” is simply a sound, and a “mouse” is a rodent that spreads Hantavirus. But now she’s pretty good with her computer. She uses it to search for news and information, watch YouTube videos, load and organize photos from her phone. She even figured out how to print letters out to mail to friends -- putting a somewhat high-tech spin on low-tech snail mail. Here’s a loose transcript of my call to Grandma, describing the new features of Windows 8.
Me: “Hi Grandma. How’s it going?
Grandma: I got a new computer with a touchscreen with Windows 8.
Me: Wow, that’s cool!
Grandma: I got a special price on a case of 2,000 sanitizer wipes too. Because, you know, I don’t want all those germs on my computer’s screen.
Me: Well, I don’t think you need to worry too much about that grandma. I…
The New Metro Layout
Grandma: The Metro screen looks very different but I wish the icons were still there.
Me: Well, the icons are kind of gone, but there are icons in the tiles, which you can just click and open.
Grandma: Why are the tiles changing all the time?
Me: It’s a live feed—it’s constantly giving you the latest news—e-mail previews too.
Grandma: Is that a weather tile, the one with the cloud on it?
Me: The weather tile? The big tile with the cloud on it? Oh, that’s not for the weather. That’s Skydrive. It lets you to store files in the cloud. Not actually in the sky—in a server farm.
Grandma: You know, your grandfather grew up on a farm.
Me: Uh, okay, it’s not really a farm like that. It’s really a huge room where a bunch of other computers store your data so it doesn’t take up too much space in your computer. You probably don’t need it. You don’t create a lot of big files on your computer.
Grandma: I download a lot of articles from Dr. Mercola and pictures of my favorite grandson.
Me: Yea, you probably don’t need Skydrive yet. Maybe when I send you more pictures.
Some Cool New Browser Tricks with Windows 8
Grandma: Can I open two Internet windows?
Me: Yes. Just put your finger on the top edge of the screen and slide it down. Tap the plus sign. If you want to go back to the main screen, put your finger on the right edge of the screen and slide it to the left. See the “Start” icon with four squares? Tap it.
Grandma: I wish there were still icons on the main screen too.
Me: Don’t worry Grandma, you’ll get used to it (really, a 3 year-old kid could do it). Also if you’re in an app and place your finger on the top edge of the screen and swipe all the way down, you can close the app.
And if you swipe from the left edge to the right, it loads the previous app. If you swipe about a third of the way, you can run the previous app alongside the app you’re currently running. Slide it back to the left and you can choose from all your open apps.
To see all the apps you have installed, put your finger at the bottom of the screen and slide it up. See the icon at the right? Tap it and you’ll see all your apps.
Oh, you know what, if you really want, you can go back to the traditional desktop through the “desktop app.”
Well, I need to go Grandma. It was nice talking to you. Yeah, if you have any more questions about your new computer, give me a call. Love you too. Bye-bye.”
Change is good. Embrace it.
Want to learn more about Windows 8? See all our coverage:
Five Reasons Why Microsoft’s Windows RT Is Right for You
How Windows 8 Apps Stack Up
Dell XPS 10 Flaunts Windows RT
Hands-On with the Samsung ATIV Tab