Microsoft has added and taken away some features in Windows 8 with the release of Windows 8.1. One of the items that has gone away is the Getting Started corner guides that appeared in Windows 8 on first start up, which isn't necessarily bad, and one of the things that has come back is the Start Button. One of the apps I found in the original release that has managed to stay around in 8.1 is called Help + Tips. I realize that many IT pros might rather just dive in and use Windows 8.1, but other business users getting used to Windows 8.1 will find the app useful.
Accessing the Help + Tips app
The Help + Tips app is available as a Windows native app from the Start screen. Once it's open, the app is broken up into the following categories:
- Start and apps: This category shows overviews of how the Start screen and apps available for Windows 8.1 operate. It also explains the desktop app experience.
- Get around: This category tells you how to access and navigate apps in Windows 8.1. It also includes a recently used apps list and information about how to change and close apps.
- Basic actions: The Basic Actions category describes the charms menu and how to split the screen between multiple apps.
- Your account and files: This category explains how to access your Microsoft Account, SkyDrive, and Search.
- Settings: Here you can learn about various Windows and app settings, including a new style control panel for Windows 8 called PC Settings. Apps in Windows 8.1 include custom settings based on the app you're using, but the settings for apps and the settings for Windows are accessed in the same manner. Don't worry, the original control panel is still accessible from the desktop app.
- What's new: This section outlines a number of new features available in Windows 8.1. If there's something specific to the latest release of Windows that you're curious about, this is a good place to start.
The Help + Tips app is designed to be a place to start working with Windows 8.1, since there are a number of new features and changes to features from previous versions. It would also be nice if this application were updatable. For example, Microsoft Windows PowerShell includes an updatable help feature that allows new content to be published to the Internet and pulled into PowerShell to keep the information fresh. The Windows Help + Tips app would be another great use for this feature, allowing ongoing information to be downloaded with one click.
Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.