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Using Windows 8 and the Metro Interface

Tiles for launching: where are my apps?

The Windows 8 developer preview comes with a range of sample Metro apps to give developers some inspiration and to give us users something to try out. They have large colorful tiles with pictures and live updates and they’re already pinned to the Start screen and arranged into groups, as are a couple of key desktop applications – including the Task Manager.

But what about your own applications? When you install a program, a tile for it is pinned to the Start screen in a new group. For something like Office, you get icons for all the apps and utilities that installs. There aren’t tiles for all the programs and utilities installed as part of Windows though; you have to search for those and pin the ones you want, one at a time. Pinning an app to the desktop task bar doesn’t pin it to the Start screen, and it doesn’t even give you the option to pin it to the Start screen. That means you can’t open a program, use it and then pin it to the Start menu. Instead you have to go out of your way to pin it as a separate task.

Install Office and you get tiles for the applications: all of them.

Install Office and you get tiles for the applications: all of them.

Similarly, pinning a Web site to the task bar or saving it as a favorite doesn’t pin it to the Start screen as well. You have to pin it from the Metro version of IE. That does make sense. You don’t want every page you favorite cluttering up the Start screen and if you open a Web site from Metro IE it won’t load plugins like Flash or Silverlight so it won’t work the same way as in desktop IE. But it also means that the Start screen is only a fast way to get to Web sites that don’t use plugins and you have to work out which is which and treat them differently.

If you want to unpin an app, swipe the tile upwards or right-click it to get a menu that lets you unpin it. The same menu lets you choose a smaller tile – for a Metro app – or choose Advanced options for a desktop app. Being able to open the location in Explorer is often a good way to find associated programs and utilities, but it’s a long-winded way of doing it. Running as administrator is useful for power users. Bizarrely enough, you can pin an app from the Start screen to the task bar from here, even though you can’t do it the other way round.

You can only choose larger and smaller tiles for Metro apps.

You can only choose larger and smaller tiles for Metro apps.