The Definitive Windows 8 Review And User Guide


The Switcher is essentially the other half of the taskbar in Windows 8.

It auto-hides on the left side of the screen. Like the Charms bar on the right, you have to move your mouse cursor to the top or bottom corner and then move it towards the center in order to see the full contents of the Switcher.

If you are on the Start screen with no apps open, the Switcher does not appear at all and the left-side hot corners do nothing. If you only have one application open, the Switcher won't appear like a dock. Instead, the hot corners take you back to the app from the Start screen, while the bottom-left corner takes you back to the Start screen from the app.

You need to have two or more apps open for the Switcher to start acting like a proper taskbar.

Oddly, when you have so many apps open that you run out of space on the Switcher, apps start disappearing. They don't get smaller, and the list doesn't scroll. They're simply not listed anymore. What's more, according to the Task Manager these apps are still running, but there is nothing to indicate as much. This appears to simply be a list of the most recently launched apps, with the number of apps on the list depending on your vertical resolution.

Full Switcher

Right-clicking on an app in the Switcher reveals a pop-up menu with the option to close that app. If you're already employing Snap, the options to Snap left or right also appear in the right-click menu.

Snapping via the Switcher's right-click menu always manipulates the sidebar app and leaves the main app alone. In other words, the main app is sticky.

As an example, let's say you have the desktop open as the main app on the left side of the screen, and Bing Weather open as the sidebar app on the right...

...but now you want to look at the News app in a sidebar on the left side of the desktop. Right-click on News in the Switcher and choose Snap left. This causes the desktop to slide right, moving the Bing Weather app off-screen and creating room for the News app on the left.

Alternatively, if you simply want to replace the Bing Weather app on the right side of the screen, choose Snap right on the News app and it replaces the Weather app.

  • deftonian
    decisions, decisions... part of me wants to upgrade, the other part is afraid there's no turning back. I'll keep reading reviews and eventually make the decision. However, thanks Tom's, and not for posting the review, but for not posting another apple article.... :)
  • mayankleoboy1
    Adam, where are the UI performance improvement benchmarks ?

    Win8 is supposed to have everything GPU accelerated, to "better handle big texts" like MS-Word.
    So how will you measure FPS in MS-Word ?Plus, how do you measure the 2D performance improvements, the much touted smoothness of win8 ?
  • amuffin
    Too "blocky" for me. :P
  • Upgraded to Windows 8 Pro yesterday for $15 on a brand new all in one computer I bought the same day and already, have lots of problems. A lot of my the software I had running on Windows 7 Ultimate worked fine and now don't work at all. The brand new computer I bought with the touch screen... well the touch screen doesn't work and the manufacturer has not driver update to fix it. I'm hoping this will change in time.
  • jasonw223
    Just bought 3 copies for my desktop / HTPC / wife's PC. There are quite a few haters out there - but I quite like it. I think if more people gave it a try (like the reviewer) that it would grow on them.

    Also, if anyone wants to buy my Transformer Prime, let me know lol.
  • DjEaZy
    ... classic shell FTW!!!
  • agnickolov
    I'm getting an upgrade copy for my wife's computer. She's struggling with Vista, so this should help I hope... (It better, she's getting a 128GB Samsung 830 as well.) For myself I'll likely stick with Windows 7 Ultimate.
  • DjEaZy
    agnickolovI'm getting an upgrade copy for my wife's computer. She's struggling with Vista, so this should help I hope... (It better, she's getting a 128GB Samsung 830 as well.) For myself I'll likely stick with Windows 7 Ultimate.... why you are torturing your wife... it's hardly an update from vista to 8... the one is slow but windows, the other is quick, but nothing like windows... be a good husband and get her Win7 too...
  • SteelCity1981
    Without Aero the Windows in Windows 8 looks like something you would see in Windows Windows 9x which makes Windows 7 with Aero look more modern then Windows 8 without Aero. I would even say Windows XP's Luna Windows looks more modern then Windows 8 Windows.

    I gave Windows 8 a chance for months in its preview version and not much has changed since the preview version went to the RTM version and always found myself navigating back to Windows 7. I mean Windows 8 felt like an OS that had things i didn't want then an OS that had things I did want. I didn't want a Modern UI as my main screen. I didn't want MS to get rid of the start menu, I didn't want Aeroless Windows that looks like something you would see on Windows 9x. Sure there are programs like classic shell the helps ease the pain of not having a start menu, but that won't be a gurantee to always work esp if MS tries to block it from working with future update patches to Windows 8. And even if they don't patch it all i'm doing is trying to make Windows 8 look like Windows 7 so why don't just stick with Windows 7 instead if that's the case.

    Now I think Windows 8 is great on touch screen devices, but for pc's it's another story. Which is why I always thought that MS should have made two diff versions of Windows 8 one for touch screens and one for non touch screens without the Modern UI and with a start menu. Those two simple changes would have made a lot more people that use anon touch screen pc more satisfied with Windows 8.

    I read people on here saying people are haters of Windows 8, but those so called haters of Windows 8 reflect on reality off the frustration that most consumers will feel the first time they try to use Windows 8. I think what some of you are missing is the avg consumer that aren't tech savvy doesn't like a lot of change presented to them at once, because it took them a while to understand the Windows that they are using now and making a big change to that will generate almost instant frustration and this is where I feel MS is at a big disconnect with Windows 8 and the avg consumer who are vastly makeup the computer market and when you impose something that seems radical to them and what they have been soo used to for years, it's going to have a big negative effect on that product.
    Now that I think about it, I don't even use my Start Button. Everything I need, I have tucked away in quick launch. Very rarely do I find myself looking at my Start Button, unless I need the Control Panel.