On February 29th, Microsoft made available for download the Consumer Preview flavor of its Windows 8 platform, offering everyone the possibility to get a taste of what the final release of the platform would be all about.
When compared to the Developer Preview version that Microsoft made available for download back in September, the new release brings along a series of touch optimizations, some of which affect the so-called Charms as well.
Microsoft has designed Windows 8 as a full-featured desktop PC operating system, but it built it so that it would fit greatly on the smaller screen of tablet PCs, and the new Consumer Preview shows that.
There is a new Charms bar included in the OS, which comes up when moving the mouse to the right edge of the screen (on tablets, you’ll need to swipe from the right edge to make it appear). You can also press the Windows key + C.
Microsoft has designed these charms to provide users with a fast way to navigate to key tasks in Windows 8. The charms bar will also let you go to the Start screen fast.
The bar will enable you to easily search for apps, files, and settings on your PC. You will also be able to search within apps and on the web, regardless of whether you want to find something in an email or a Facebook update.
“You can also get search results from within apps right from the Start screen. If the info you need is on the web, just choose Internet Explorer in your search results, and Search brings the results right to you,” Kent Walter, Windows Team, explains.
Applications that have been designed for the Windows 8 will also be able to take advantage of the search feature. On PCs that use a keyboard, you will be able to search from the Start screen. Just start typing.
In addition to Search, the Charms bar will deliver fast access to Share. Whenever you find content that you consider worthy of being shared, you’ll just have to bring the charm up, without leaving the application you were using.
“You can quickly send wise words with the Mail app or share a great photo on SkyDrive. The apps you use most often are listed first for quick access, and you can choose whether to share with just one person, or with all of your contacts at once,” Kent Walter continues.
Through the Devices charm, you will get the chance to go to the devices you need to use right away. Accessing a camera, TV, your Xbox or another device is fast and easy.
Through the Settings charm, you will be able to access basic settings such as volume or shutting down your PC. However, when in a specific application, the charm will bring up the settings for that app. It will also get you to the PC settings.
When first bringing up the Charms bar, it is transparent, a great feature especially when on tablet PCs. You should also know that, starting with the Consumer Preview of Windows 8, the Windows Start button has been removed.