Here you are, faced with a new Windows 8 computer — a gift, perhaps, or maybe a machine you have to get going for a friend or family member.
What on earth do you do with it? How do you start without, uh, Start? Let me take you through eight easy steps toward Win8 enlightenment.
Step 1: Make sure you got the right version
Before you even take that new computer out of its box, make sure you have the version you want and can use. That might sound stupid, but it truly isn’t. A distressingly large number of new computer buyers are getting (or giving) Windows RT tablets/convertible laptops without understanding that Windows RT can’t run traditional Windows programs.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Windows RT. Microsoft Surface tablets run RT, and those devices seem like a good solution for doing light-duty work with Word or Excel on a light, portable device. But if you have or receive a Windows RT tablet and are anticipating running common programs such as, oh, 7-Zip, Foxit Reader, Firefox or Chrome, or Windows Live Mail, you’re in for a rude surprise.
If you have any doubts about the differences between Windows RT (which isn’t really a Windows operating system at all — at least not in the sense that you’re thinking) and Windows 8, read my Oct. 25 Top Story, “Win8 vs. Windows RT: What to know before you buy.”
Here’s another version difference to note. As I explained the April 26 Top Story, there are two primary versions of Windows 8: one called (imaginatively) Windows 8 and another, Windows 8 Pro. The differences between the two are similar to the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 7 Professional.
Both Pro versions can join corporate domains and include the Encrypting File System and the Group Policy Editor. They can also act as a server (or host) in a Remote Desktop session.