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Tips for the Techies using Win8

What's running?

If you launch a Metro app, play with it for a while, then press the Windows key you'll switch back to the Start screen. Your app will remain running, but as there's no taskbar then you might be wondering how you'd ever find that out. 
You could just press Alt+Tab, which shows you what's running just as it always have.  
Holding down the Windows key and pressing Tab displays a pane on the left-hand side of the screen with your running apps. (To see this with the mouse, move your cursor to the top left corner of the screen, wait until the thumbnail of one app appears, then drag down. And of course you can always press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to see all your running apps in the Task Manager, if you don't mind (or actually need) the extra technical detail. 

 Task Manager win8.jpg

Run as Administrator

Some programs need you to run them with Administrator rights before they'll work properly. The old context menu isn't available for a pinned Start screen app, but right-click one, and if it's appropriate for this app then you'll see a Run As Administrator option.
Administrative tools
Experienced Windows users who spend much of their time in one advanced applet or another are often a little annoyed to see their favourite tools buried by Windows 8. Microsoft have paid at least some attention, though, and there is a way to bring some of them back. 
Open the Metro Settings panel (press Win+I), click the Settings link, change "Show administrative tools" to Yes and click back on an empty part of the Start screen. And it's as simple as that. Scroll to the right and you'll find a host of new tiles for various key applets - Performance Monitor, Event Viewer, Task Scheduler, Resource Monitor and more - ready to be accessed at a click.
 Administrative tools win8.jpg
Install anything
Most mobile platforms recommend you only install apps from approved sources to protect your security, and Windows 8 is the same: it'll only allow you to install trusted (that is, digitally signed) apps from the Windows store.
If this proves a problem, though, and you're willing to take the security risk (because this isn't something to try unless you're entirely sure it's safe), then the system can be configured to run trusted apps from any source. Launch GPEdit.msc, browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > App Package Deployment, double-click "Allow all trusted apps to install" and select Enabled > OK.
Uninstall easily
The latest Windows 8 apps are better than those in the Developer Preview, but they're still a fairly random selection and you're sure to find some that you'll rarely, if ever use.  In this case right-clicking one of their Start screen tiles will display a few relevant options. 
If this is one of the larger tiles, for instance, choosing "Small" will cut it down to half the size, freeing up some valuable Start screen real estate. 
If you just want to dismiss the app for now, select "Unpin from Start". The tile will disappear, but if you change your mind then you can always add it again later. (Search for the app, right-click it, select Pin to Start. Or, if you're sure you'll never want to use an app again, choose Uninstall to remove it entirely.
 Uninstall app win8.jpg
Launch programs fast
If you're a fan of keyboard shortcuts and don't like the idea of scrolling through Metro tiles to find the program you need, don't worry, Windows 8 still supports a useful old shortcut. This is perfect if, say, you're looking to be able to shut down your PC with a click.
Launch the desktop app, right-click an empty part of the desktop and click New > Shortcut. 
Browse to the application you'd like to launch here. Of for the sake of this example, enter
shutdown.exe -s -t 00 to shut down your PC, or shutdown.exe -h -t 00 to hibernate it, and click Next. Type a shortcut name - Hibernate, say - and click Finish.
Right-click the shortcut, select Pin to Start and it should appear on the far right of the Metro screen - just drag the tile wherever you like.
VHD - enhanced
Windows 7 added support for creating and attaching virtual hard drives in Microsoft's VHD format. Now Windows 8 extends this with the new VHDX format, which improves performance, extends the maximum file size from 2 to 16TB, and makes the format "more resilient to power failure events" (so they shouldn't get corrupted as easily). Launch the Computer Management Control Panel applet, choose Disk Management, and click Actions > Create VHD to give the format a try.
Virtual Machines
Install Windows 8 and you also get Microsoft's Hyper-V, allowing you to create and run virtual machines (as long as you're not running in a virtual machine already). Launch OptionalFeatures.exe, check Hyper-V and click OK to enable the feature. Then switch back to Metro, scroll to the right, find and click on the Hyper-V Manager tile to begin exploring its capabilities.
Scheduled Maintenance
Windows 8 Consumer Preview will now run common maintenance tasks - software updates, security scanning, system diagnostics and more at a scheduled convenient time, which is good.
Unfortunately it doesn't actually ask you what time is convenient, instead just setting it to 3am and allowing the system to wake your computer (if hardware and circumstances permit) to do its work. This isn't so good. To change this, launch Control Panel, click System and Security > Action Centre > Maintenance. You can now click "Start maintenance" to launch any outstanding tasks right now, while selecting "Change maintenance settings" enables you to choose a more convenient time, and optionally disable the feature's ability to wake up your computer if that's not required.
Advanced menu options
If you need to run the command prompt as an Administrator then your instant reaction will probably be to reach for the Start menu. Before becoming annoyed a microsecond later when you remember it's no longer there.  
It's good to see that Microsoft have provided a simple alternative, then - just click the File menu in Explorer and click Open command prompt > Open command prompt as administrator.And while you're there, make note of the other advanced new options also on that menu: you can open a new window in a new process, open Explorer, and even delete your Recent Places and Address Bar histories with a click.
 Advanced Menu options win8.jpg
Show all folders
The default Windows 8 Explorer view doesn't show all the usual drives and folders - Control Panel, Recycle Bin and so on - in the left-hand navigation pane. It certainly keeps the display simple, and if you want to see all your drives then you can just click Computer, but if you prefer to see everything up-front then it only takes a moment. Click View > Options, check "Show all folders" and click OK.
Mount ISO files in Windows 8
Need to take a closer look at an ISO file? Right-click it in Explorer, click Mount and you can view it as a virtual drive, launch the files it contains, or add more if you like.
Restart Explorer
If Explorer locks up for some reason, then regaining control is now very easy. No need to close the process any more: simply press Ctrl+Alt+Esc, select Explorer in the list, click Restart and Windows 8 will handle the rest.
VirtualBox error
The safest way to sample Windows 8 CP is to install it on a VirtualBox virtual machine. It's fairly easy to set up, there's no need to worry about partitioning or other issues, and if it doesn't work for whatever reason (which is possible, it's a beta after all) then you'll have lost nothing but a little time. 
After completing your installation, though, you might find your virtual Windows 8 complaining that "Your PC needs to be repaired". But despite telling you to "Press Enter to try again", or "Press F8 for alternate boot options", neither option works. 
Fortunately there's an easy answer. Close the Windows 8 window, select your virtual machine in VirtualBox, click Settings > System > Processor and check the "Enable PAE/NX" box. Click OK, restart your virtual machine and this time it should launch properly.
Metro apps won't launch
You click a Metro app, and nothing else happens? Display issues are often the cause. In particular, Metro apps don't currently support screen resolutions lower than 1024x768 (or 1366 x 768 when snapping), so increase your resolution if possible (launch the desktop, right-click, select Screen Resolution).
Or if that's no help, try updating your video drivers.
Performance problems
If your Windows 8 system seems sluggish, the revamped task manager may be able to offer some clues. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to take a look.
The simplified Processes tab then reveals what's currently using your CPU time, RAM, hard drive and network bandwidth. (The more in-depth data available in previous Task Manager versions is now accessible via the Details tab.)
The Performance tab gives you a graphical view of resource use over the last few seconds, while the App History dialog looks back over days or more to reveal which app is the most resource-hungry.
And is your boot time slow? Click the new Startup tab to see programs your system is launched when Windows boots. The "Startup impact" now shows how much of an effect each of these has on your boot time; if you spot high impact programs you're sure you don't need, then right-clicking them and selecting "Disable" will ensure they're not loaded next time.
 Powerful though all this is, if you can think of a reason to use the old Task Manager then it's still accessible. Hold down the Windows key, press R, type TaskMGR and press Enter to launch it. (Typing TM will launch the new version.)
 Performance problems Task manager win8.jpg
Device Manager Events
If you've a driver or hardware-related problem with Windows 8, launch Device Manager, browse to the relevant device, right-click it, select Properties and click the new Events tab. If Windows has installed drivers, related services or carried out other important actions on this device then you'll now see them here, very useful when troubleshooting.
Recovery options
Windows 8 Consumer Preview has performed well for us, but if you find it won't boot at some point then you now have to press Shift+F8 during the launch process to access its recovery tools. Access the Troubleshoot menu, then Advanced Options and you'll be able to try the Automatic Repair tool, which may fix your problems. No luck? The same menu enables you to use the last System Restore point, tweak key Windows Startup settings, even open a command prompt if you'd like to troubleshoot your system manually. 
If that all seems like too much hassle then the Troubleshoot menu's option to "Refresh your PC" may be preferable, as it essentially reinstalls Windows 8 but keeps your files, and will fix many issues.But if it doesn't then there's always the more drastic "Reset your PC" option, which removes all your files and installs a fresh new copy of Windows 8.You don't have to access these features from the boot menu, of course. If Windows 8 starts but seems very unstable, then open the new Recovery applet in Control Panel for easy access to the Refresh, Reset and other disaster recovery features.
Advanced options Recovery win8.jpg 

Windows 8 Basics for those who can’t Touch!

Many users of Windows 7 or older OSs are apprehensive about the new Windows 8 Operating System. They are prejudiced when they think that Windows 8 is inclined more towards the touch screen interface than the conventional keyboard – mouse interface that we are all familiar with. But the fact is Windows 8 is designed not only for the Touch user but also the Can't-touch user. Almost all that you can do with the touch interface can also be done with one or more keystrokes or one or two mouse clicks.

Here is how…


Move from the lock screen to the login screen with the tap of your Spacebar key or the spin of the mouse wheel.


Press the Home or End keys to jump from one end of your Start screen to the other. Spin the mouse wheel to scroll the screen forward and backward. Use the cursor keys to move to a particular tile. Tap Enter to select it. Double click a tile to launch the app. Press the Windows key to return to the Metro screen. Right-click apps you don't need and select Unpin to remove them.  Drag and drop the other tiles around to organize them as you like.
To find all your installed apps, hold down the Windows key and press Q (or right-click an empty part of the Start screen and select All Apps).You can use the horizontal scroll bar now. Browse the various tiles to find what you need and click the relevant app to launch it.
A text based Start menu can be accessed with a right-click in the bottom left corner (or hold down the Windows key and press X) which provides easy access to lots of useful applets and features: Device Manager, Control Panel, Explorer, the Search dialog and more.


If you launch a Metro app, play with it for a while, then press the Windows key you'll switch back to the Start screen. Your app will remaining running.
Metro apps don't have close buttons, but this isn't the issue you might think. Apps are suspended when you switch to something else so they're only a very minimal drain on your system, and if you need the system resources then they'll automatically be shut down. (Their context will be saved, of course, so on relaunching they'll carry on where you left off.)
If you want to close down an app anyway, though, move the mouse cursor up to the top of the screen. When it turns from the regular mouse pointer to the icon of a hand, hold down the left mouse button and drag it down the screen. Your app should shrink to a thumbnail which you can drag off the screen to close it. If that's too much hassle then simply pressing Alt+F4 still works. 
And when all else fails then press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task Manager, right-click something in the Apps list and select End Task. Beware, though, close something you shouldn't and it's easy to crash or lock up your PC. 


Wonder how to shut down the system? Just move the mouse cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen, click the Settings icon - or just hold down the Windows key and press I - and you'll see a power button. Click this and choose "Shut down" or "Restart". 
Some of the tricks available in previous versions of Windows still apply. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, for instance, click the power button in the bottom right-hand corner and you'll be presented with the same "Shut down" and "Restart" options. And if you're on the desktop, press Alt+F4 and you'll be able to choose Shut Down, Restart, Sign Out or Switch User options.

Can’t-touch users! Improve your productivity with Windows 8

Navigate easily - Group together your applications

The Start screen apps are initially displayed in a fairly random order, but if you'd prefer a more organized life then it's easy to sort them into custom groups.
E.g. You might drag People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar over to the left-hand side to form a separate "People" group. Click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to carry out a "semantic zoom", and you'll now find you can drag and drop the new group (or any of the others) around as a block.
Right-click within the block (while still in the semantic zoom view) and you'll also be able to give the group a name, which - if you go on to add another 20 or 30 apps to your Start screen - will make it much easier to find the tools you need.

Access quickly - Push-pin your app to the Start screen

If there's an application you use all the time, you don't have to access it via the search system. Start by typing part of the name of your application.
E.g., type Control. Right-click the "Control Panel" tile on the Apps Search screen, and click "Pin to Start".
Now press the Windows key, scroll to the right and you'll see the Control Panel tile at the far end. Drag and drop this over to the left somewhere if you'd like it more easily accessible, then click the tile to open the desktop along with the Control Panel window, and press the Windows key to return you to the Start screen when you've done.

Become versatile - Run two apps side by side

Metro apps are what Microsoft call "immersive" applications, which basically means they run full-screen - but there is a way to view two at once.
if you're using a keyboard, use Win+. (period) to snap an app to the right, or Win+Shift+. (period) to snap to the left. (Whatever the interface, you can't snap apps unless your screen resolution is at least 1366 x 768.)
E.g. Launch the Map applet and press Win+. (period). Then switch back to the Start screen and launch your desktop. And now you have a live, scrolling Map applet on the right side of your screen which is effectively working as a desktop sidebar, and you can access simply by moving the mouse there and clicking on it. If you need more space then drag the separator to the left and the desktop will shrink to a left-hand sidebar, but both apps remain active and working, so you can use Metro and regular desktop tools side by side.

Save your time – save a screen shot automatically

If a Metro application is showing something interesting and you'd like to record it for posterity, then hold down the Windows key, press PrtSc, and the image won't just go to the clipboard: it'll also be automatically saved to your My Pictures folder with the name Screenshot.png (and then Screenshot(1).png, Screenshot(2).png and so on). The earlier Win+Alt+PrtSc won’t work anymore.

Find Settings information faster – Smart search your way

If you'd like to know what's new in the area of storage, say, just press Win+W to launch the Settings Search dialog, type drive , and the system will return a host of related options. That is, not just those with "drive" in the name, but anything storage-related: BitLocker, Device Manager, backup tools, disk cleanup, and interesting new features like Storage Spaces. 
This Search feature isn't new, of course, but it's easy to forget how useful this can be, especially when you're trying to learn about a new operating system. So don't just carry out specific searches, use the Apps search to look for general keywords such as "privacy" or "performance", and you just might discover something new.

More Realestate on the MS Office Screen!

​Have you ever thought "if only I could have more space on the screen to work in MS office apps - Word / Excel / PowerPoint!" Do you consider the Ribbon Interface an encroachment, occupying more space on your screen, sapping your productivity?

Do not worry!

Just double click on one of the tabs of the Ribbon. The Ribbon disappears leaving behind only the tab names and you can see more working space for your document or worksheet or your slide. (Office 2010 also helps you do this by clicking on the carat icon close by the Help (question mark) icon).

You can continue to work in your current file until you are in need of a command on the ribbon for a mouse click . All you need to do now is to click on of the tab names and the ribbon displays the respective commands for you temporarily.

If you want the ribbon commands to be displayed permanently as in the beginning, then a double click on one of the tab names will do this. (Office 2010 user - click on the inverted carat icon again

I came across a 2007 user who had hidden the ribbon permanently with a double click on one of the tabs unknowingly and had kept wondering what to do to acces the ribbon commands or display the ribbon permanently again. As a result, she just avoided using the Office 2007 applications as much as she could. When I told her of the double click trick, she was quiet relieved.

Three Danger Zones of Virtualization

​In the area of virtualisation, three general risk areas have been identified.

The first revolves around traditional security risk areas. These risks affect both virtual and physical machines. Virtual software layers expand the potential attack surface for targeted malware and breach attempts. In some cases, a malware-infested virtual machine can be introduced to attack a network from within. The risks of data loss also increase with virtualisation. With the creation of virtual networks, more confidential data is located at more areas both inside and outside of the organisation. Virtual machines can also suffer from gaps in the security updates and patching process. Furthermore, traditional protection models can also fail to track the fluidity of virtual instances, thereby leaving open gaps for intrusions.

The second consists of risks exclusive to virtual environments. Accelerated provisioning may enable organisations to provision and run new services much more rapidly, but it gives little time to identify and address security risks. Moreover, sensitive data previously restricted to certain trust domains can now reside beside other data on host systems, increasing the risk of data loss. Virtual networks also add new layers of complexity due to the dynamic movements of virtual machines, as well as more workload interactions, administrative and user access points. This decreases virtual machine visibility.
The third area concerns hybrid environments. With quick provisioning and dynamically mobile workloads, these environments are incredibly susceptible to threats. Advanced security threats can deploy techniques such as drive-by downloads, zero-day vulnerability exploits and rootkits to attack virtual machines. Applications are also distributed across physical and virtual environments, resulting in many pieces of code across multiple platforms. Visibility is also lost in the complexity of adopting IT managed services and Infrastructure-as-a-Service outsourcing services
- Securing the promise of Virtualization
A Symantec/VMware Position Paper

Link your cell values for automatic update

While working in Excel, we come across a situation where we want to display the content of one or more cells at a different place - in the same worksheet, a different worksheet in the same work book or in a different workbook altogether. We usually copy-paste these values from the source to the target. But when the values in the source change, then, we are bound to update them manually. Now, we have this challenge taken care of by Excel in 2010.

If we want the value in the source to reflect in the target cells realtime, then, while pasting the selection, we need to choose "Link" option in "Paste Special". Thereafter, any changes in the source cells will immediately reflect in the target cells. If the link is pasted in another workbook, and if the target workbook is not open at the time of change, then, when the respective workbook with the link is opened the next time, Excel will update the results in the target cells when you "Enable Content" - the command appearing at the top of the workbook.

You can have as many links created this way between workbooks but be careful enough not to change the original location of the workbooks that are linked.

All linked workbooks need to be saved with a specific name to enable the links.

This is a real time saver!