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Navigating the Start Menu in Windows 8 and Server 2012

Here is the new Windows 8 Menu that people are both not happy with and also trying to figure out how to use.

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I have written a few articles about the new start menu in Windows 8/Server 2012. (As seen below) Today I wanted to write another article to help people navigate through this new menu easier.

Before I begin, I wanted to give a little background about Windows 8 and its current perception. Sales of Windows 8 started out pretty modest and a lot of folks in the media started to hit the panic button as seen below:

To be blunt, a lot of people do not like the new menu option and the removal of the START menu is a deal breaker for many folks. However, hidden underneath a maze of the new live tiles, Windows 8 performs much like Windows 7. But those unfamiliar tiles and lack of START menu have been enough to push buyers back into the familiar lap of Windows 7.

What I really think is going on is the difference between Windows 8’s launch versus Windows 7.

Windows 7 was launched when a lot of people were very happy with Windows XP that was almost 10 years old. It also came after Windows Vista did not perform as expected and feel victim to the perception of waiting for service pack 1, which actually did fix a lot of the issues with Vista. So you had a very dependable and likeable OS followed by Windows Vista. To make matters worse, Apple Launched a very successful ad campaign that called out of all Vista’s problems and gave people the feeling that the Mac was cooler and more hip. So Windows users were hungry for a new OS that performed to the perception and expectation.

Windows 8 basically came into a market with very little demand, since Windows 7 was performing well for them during the past 3 years. Of course, a lot has changed in the IT World and a lot of people are looking into using the cloud more and are moving away from PC’s and laptops towards touch screen tablets.

Regardless, people are not really ready for this new interface and have enough on their plates to keep them busy without trying to reinvent the wheel. This is where I hope that this article will help you with Windows 8, because it is a really good operation system.

Here is the start menu from Windows 7:


Here is the search diagram box that allowed you to either search for programs or files on your computer:


Notice that I am searching for the word power and it finds the following for me:

  • PowerGUI
  • PowerDVD
  • PowerShell (What I was actually looking for)
  • Power Options
  • PowerPoint

Plus a few other things, this dialog box was very helpful to a lot of people. What you are about to learn is that it still exists in Windows 8 today! There just is not permanent box to type into, but instead you pop up the Start Menu with the Windows Logo on your keyboard (next to control and alt as seen below) and then just type what you are looking to use. I know it seems odd and unintuitive, plus a bit hard to get used to, but it provides the same functionality as Windows 7. Seriously, all you need to do if you’re already at the Start screen is just start typing.


Notice (click on image below to see a bigger screenshot) that I am searching for the word power and it finds the following 4 items for me:

  • PowerShell (x86)
  • PowerShell ISE (both 64 bit and 32 bit)
  • 64 bit PowerShell (Since I have nothing else installed on this VM)


Now, here is the cool thing, not to the right you have different fields called Apps, Settings and Files:


As you can see by default it will search applications and provided the 4 results. Now I see that there are also 7 items in the settings section:


To get there I just clicked on the Settings:


I don’t think you can change the default and I have not been able to find anything that allows me to modify the results. However, you can use these keyboard shortcuts to narrow your search:

  • WinKey+Q = Display the Search Bar with Apps selected
  • WinKey+W = Search Bar with Settings selected
  • WinKey+F = Display the Search Bar with Files selected

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