5 Nov.

Simple Windows 8.1 Tips For IT Pros (11/81)

For today’s post I have assembled some of the things that IT Pros should be looking at on Windows 8.1, this time for their own benefit, not necessarily targeting their user base.

Taskbar Enhancements

Well, I guess I have to start with the most obvious one, pun intended. Yes, the “Start” button. For anyone who has been using Windows 8.1 for an extended period of time it’s not that big a deal, but the nice thing it brings is that it gives you better access to the same menu that right mouse clicking in the bottom left hand corner, (the same shortcut menu that Windows-X provides) without the chance of accidentally right mouse clicking on the adjoining icon.

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Right mouse clicking on the Windows logo gives you this shortcut menu, but you have to install the Zune client yourself to get that awesome Zune logo next to it.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with Windows 8, the above shortcut is probably worth it’s weight in gold to you. I’m not exactly sure how you would way it, but it has something to do with pixel count. I’ll leave it up to you to decide. For those that are familiar with Windows 8, there is the new option of Shut down or sign out, which helps the transition for those who may struggle with the relocation of the shutdown commands to the Charms bar. The addition of sign out to this option is a benefit for those times you are switching between multiple user profiles, as it avoids having to go back to the Start screen.

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For many admins, the shortcuts here are incredibly useful.

But wait, there’s more. Microsoft has been telling us that we should be using PowerShell, but alas, it seems to have disappeared from this menu between preview releases and RTM, but that’s easily fixed from the Taskbar and Navigation properties which can be accessed by right clicking on an empty part of the Taskbar.

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These aren’t the options you’re looking for. And they aren’t droids either.

If we click on the Navigation tab, we see where things really start to get interesting. If we look at the third option, currently unchecked, we have the ability to replace the Command Prompt options with PowerShell on the menu.

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Enabling that option changes the menu to launch PowerShell or PowerShell with admin rights, depending on the user needs.

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More Power(Shell) to the people!

Why the backflip on defaults so late in the game? Why does a default Windows 8.1 Enterprise installation require a Microsoft account (Live ID)? These are questions that will be pondered for many a year, but my guess is that PowerShell confused people, and people have been trained to think that a blue screen is a bad thing.

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The Blue Screen Of Life (for PowerShell fans)

Navigation Enhancements

Let’s go back to that Navigation tab, there’s one more thing to call out here – and that’s the first check box under Start Screen. You want desktop? You’ve got desktop. Can we read a not quite subliminal message into desktop having a lower case d versus Start and it’s upper case S? We can add it to the list of things we may never get the answer to.

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The universal question – was it really so hard?

The option for Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start gives you a more comprehensive view of what you’ve got installed, which I would recommend to you as an IT Pro, but for the typical user I would avoid it using it as it could be a bit overwhelming. It’s effectively showing you everything that the traditional Start menu would, along with all of the new apps that would appear on the Start screen.

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User friendly? Not so much, at least with this much software installed.

That’s it for today, hopefully you’ve picked up some useful hints to help you as you adjust to the (modern) world of Windows 8.1.

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