Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton, Brian Daleiden, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Silverlight, @CloudExpo

Microsoft Cloud: Blog Post

Working with the Windows 8.1 Interface

Windows 8.1 for Business: Oh Start menu, how do I miss thee…or do I?

One of the most often questions/feedback we get regarding Windows 8.1 is where is my start menu.  These conversations can get very passionate, and usually turn into a commentary around on how much we miss our start menu.  I am sure some folks want to punch the screen.

imageI totally understand your frustration and I went through this as well.  While Windows 8 does provide a big change to how we do things in the interface, it did make me re-think why I used my start menu.  What I learned from my own usage and talking to all you wonderful folks,  is that the start menu is used for small common set of minimum tasks.  Here is a list of the most common things folks like yourselves have told me, and I personally had problems finding in Windows 8.1:

  • Shutdown and Sign Out
  • Search
  • Launch and Find Recently Installed Applications

Like all of you once I learned how to get around Windows 8 and find these basic tasks, I found that I will never need my start menu again.  In this article, I am here to help show you how to accomplish these tasks with ease in Windows 8.1.   In the end I hope you learn some new tips and tricks to improve how you use Windows 8.1

Last note, in another article in this series,  I will talk about how as an IT Admin you can take control of the Windows 8.1 interface with our good friend, Group Policy.

Shutdown and Sign Out

imageThis is easiest thing that was not easy to find until Windows 8.  You had to use the charms bar (sliding the mouse down the right hand side of your screen or Windows +C)  access it.  Then you would click on settings and you would see the power icon.  This is where you could shutdown, restart or sleep your system.  Log off was a little harder to find, on your start screen (formerly metro) if you clicked on your name you were given a menu that allowed you log off.  In Windows 8.1, you can still use the same tasks mentioned above you can use the Expert Menu.  I love that name, and to access it simply right click on the start button on the lower left corner of the screen and you will see a screen similar to one below:


In addition to shutdown and sign out you also have access to many control panel applications and Explorer.  So while this is different than what you are used to it is still essentially in the same location now in Windows 8.1


This is one of my most favorite features in Windows 8.1, and easily one of the best ones you can show anyone.  To access from your start screen simply start typing, and you have nearly a fully federation search environment.  Which BTW is the same way it has worked in previous versions of Windows, however this engine will allow you to quickly query other data sources.  Not only does the search access your local repositories of information, it also will quickly extend to the Internet and beyond.

Unfortunately, this was not obvious, however once you know you can type on the screen, it really takes on a life of its own.  This always seems to really please people when I show them, and for me this was my huge selling point on the new interface.  The search will also query for your applications, and my search as I typed in Word is shown in the screenshot to the right.  So the next time you cannot find something, simply type on the start screen, I be the results will surprise you!

Launch and Find Recently Installed Applications:

This is probably the most common thing that folks cannot find and I totally understand the frustration here.  I remember the first time I installed a new application I could not find it either.  It was not in the modern interface default screen, so where did it go?  The answer is that it went to Apps View.


You will also notice in the all apps screen you can quickly sort your applications in 4 ways:

  • imageby name
  • by date installed (this is how find the recently install applications)
  • by most used
  • by category

That’s great Matt but how do I get to the all apps screen?

From the Start menu, you can access the Apps view either by clicking on the down arrow in the lower left corner of the screen. Additionally when you are on the start screen you can press ctrl + tab to access the all app view as well.

See my fun super tip below for an alternative to get to your applications off the desktop, however before you dive head long into the super tip I want to ask you a small favor.   Give Windows 8.1 interface a try, and take a look at the new ways to accomplish your tasks.  While they are different ways to get to the tasks, I am confident you will find these new ways that are more efficient then in previous versions of Windows.

Fun Super Tip to access applications from the desktop

Check this out:


Now I know what your thinking, what free app is that?  It is not a free app, I am actually using a built-in Windows 8.1 feature, called a toolbar.  This is a custom toolbar that references the Programs in the start menu folder on imageyour system.  This is how you create it:

  1. On your desktop, right click on your taskbar
  2. Hover on Toolbars and select New Toolbar…
  3. On the New Toolbar – Choose a folder screen browse or  type in the path to your directory.  If you installed on the c: drive the directory would have to be the following

    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

    NOTE: You will have to make sure you are viewing hidden items to see the folder.
  4. After you get the path into the screen simply click on Select Folder and your Toolbar will be created.

By default this tool bar will be all the way to the right of your task bar, but you can drag the toolbar to the left, but using the resizing icons, you may also need to drag the right hand side as well to get the button the size you need.

Lastly, I had someone ask me what my favorite application in Windows 8.1 was and my answer is it depends on if I am at work or going on vacation.   Since this is a series called Windows 8.1 for business, I will give you my work answer:  Desktop.  That is where I spend all of my time, and if you checkout my teammates Jennelle’s post tomorrow she will show you how to go directly to the desktop and go directly to the All Apps view.  This will help you save time, check out her blog tomorrow:

If you miss any of the Windows 8.1 for business series you can click here

More Stories By Matt Hester

Matt Hester is a Senior Information Technology Professional Evangelist for Microsoft. Matt has been involved in the IT Pro community for over 20 years. Matt is a skilled and experienced evangelist presenting to audiences nationally and internationally. Prior to joining Microsoft Matt was a highly successful Microsoft Certified Trainer for over 8 years. After joining Microsoft, Matt has continued to be heavily involved in IT Pro community as an IT Pro Evangelist. In his role at Microsoft Matt has presented to audiences in excess of 5000 and as small as 10. Matt has written 4 articles for TechNet magazine. In addition Matt has published 3 books:

You can contact Matt off his blog at

@ThingsExpo Stories
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...