The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for over 24 hours at this point, and users are beginning to weigh in on their experiences. For the most part, the missing Start menu and introduction of the Metro UI have taken center stage, but some other highlights of Windows 8 can be easily missed in translation.
For example, personalization has changed quite a lot on the new OS. The lock screen, Start screen, and Aero desktop can all be arranged and set up to meet your particular needs. In fact, you can configure Windows to display quick and/or detailed information from a number of your apps while the screen itself is locked, giving you at-a-glance information without having to open your desktop and navigate to various programs.
Here are some of the areas in which desktop personalization have changed:
The Lock screen in Windows 8 is very different than the ones present in previous versions of Windows. For one, you’re able to control which apps display notifications on the Lock screen which alert you to messages, calendar events, weather hazards, and any new email that you receive. It’s possible that third-party apps may also be supported by the Lock screen update feature as they become available.
To customize the background, and the app alerts, all you need to do is follow these steps.
- Launch the Start page.
- Open the Charms by moving your mouse to the lower-right corner and sliding up until you reach Settings.
- Select Settings.
- Click More PC Settings at the bottom of the Settings pane that appears on the right-hand side of the screen.
- Under Personalize, Choose the Lock Screen tab.
Once you’re here, you should see a screen that looks like the one pictured to the right. This screen allows you to customize the picture that appears while your computer is locked. You can choose between the provided photos, or select one on your hard drive by clicking the Browse button.
Below the photo area, you’l notice Lock Screen Apps which enables you to customize which apps provide quick notifications from the Lock screen.
If you’re interested in having an app deliver more detailed information about a given alert, and security isn’t a big issue for you in that regard, you may opt to add it to the detailed status row near the bottom of the screen.
The Start screen is by far the most iconic and recognizable portion of Windows 8. If you’ve been keeping up with Windows news lately, there’s a good chance you’ve seen more than a few screenshots of the Start screen which has replaced the Start menu which has been a cornerstone of the Windows UI since Windows 95.
Customization options are still somewhat few, though you are able to decide on a background pattern and color. You can access these options by following the same steps you took to get to the Lock screen (mentioned above) while selecting the Start Screen option tab instead.
Here, you’re given a very simple preview window and set of designs to choose from. You can use the color slider which currently offers blue, dark grey, dark blue, purple, pink, red, brown, green, and light grey. There is no save button (another former hallmark of Windows) and changes you make are applied immediately.
You can also arrange the tiles that appear on the Start screen by left-clicking and dragging them where you want them to go. Adding more tiles is as easy as right-clicking in the Start screen, selecting All Apps, right-clicking on the app(s) you want to add and choosing Pin to Start Screen.
Aero Desktop Background
The old-school desktop is still available in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Changing the background and general color scheme of this desktop is very similar to the way it appeared before.
You can change the desktop background by right-clicking anywhere on the existing background within the Aero desktop and selecting Personalize.
Here, you can select a theme which changes everything from your desktop background to the sounds that appear as various alerts and tones fire within Windows. You can also modify just the desktop background, window color scheme, sounds, or your screen saver via the four options at the bottom of this window.
Again, not much (if anything) has changed regarding the old desktop at this early stage of the preview. We’ll keep this article updated should any changes appear over the next few months.
If you’re wondering how you can take advantage of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, detailed instructions on where and how to install it on your PC can be found here.