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by Ray Carlson

Q. I got a new computer with Windows 8, but I cannot even find the Start menu.

A. There are several differences between Windows 8 and earlier versions of Windows. One of the most obvious is the start screen which replaced the start menu. It consists of several boxes called tiles. The intent is to make the screen easier for someone with a tablet or smart phone by letting the person tap on the box representing what they want to do. With a mouse, you move the pointer to a box, and click. The boxes can represent programs, apps, folders, websites, pictures, etc. Tap or click on the box, and the program, folder, website, movie, etc. will open.

The screen cannot show boxes for all of these options at one time. With a touch screen, your finger can slide the screen to the side to show additional choices. With a regular screen, when you move the pointer, a scroll bar appears at the bottom. Moving that scroll bar with the mouse makes other parts of the Start screen visible. As you move the mouse indicator, some of the boxes will change showing things like messages that have not been read, whether updates are available, the current weather or news. Clicking in the boxes on this screen works like clicking on the items in the former Start-up menu.

There are several other innovations in Windows 8 as Microsoft encourages people to explore new ways of doing things. Many of us find computing complex enough and would prefer moderate chunks of change. Such people may avoid Windows 8, but to make the transition easier, other software companies are trying to bridge the gap between innovation and tradition. For example, a software company called Stardock has developed a program called Start8. That program costs $5 and, when added to your computer, will place a start menu in the same position as in previous versions of Windows.

Published: Courier 11/18/12 - Page 3C