While I was at a conference recently, I had an older gentleman walk up to me so I could provide him an overview of the new Microsoft Surface device and to give a little tour of the new Windows 8 operating system. The conversation was a pleasant one… I truly enjoy sharing the new experiences of Windows 8 with the many new touch-enabled devices that are available.
The conversation lasted about 10 minutes total but it ended kinda oddly for me. This gentleman kindly asked where are the “folders” and how do you group the applications into “folders” in the new Windows 8 Start Screen. He proceeded to tell me he has 1,000s of applications on his computer and he organizes these applications into folders to make it easier for him to find the application.
He even proceeded to show his new fancy smartphone and how he has several hundred applications on that device and proceeded to say “look, here’s how I organize these applications in the various folders.”
Personally, I always had an issue with folders. How many folders should I create? Can I do subfolders? I always found it a challenge prior to Windows 7 to find where a particular application or setting would be. Example – if I was looking to change my Bluetooth settings, would I look in Start / Programs / Administrative Tools? Or, maybe it is in Start / Control Panel?
Since Windows 7, I’ve sorta gave up on folders and classifying my applications. The integrated search in Windows 7 made it easy for me to select Start / Search and type in the program I needed. Maybe I’m just lazy???
This has been expanded with Windows 8. First, I showed this gentleman how I grouped my applications on the new Windows 8 Start screen. I may have 100s of applications, but I only have the top 20-50 on my Start screen organized in groups: The first group are my most common applications (like the desktop, mail, calendar, Lync/Skype), then I have a group for my Line-of-Business applications (the SAP Business Apps are shown in this example), I have a Productivity group that includes my Productivity Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc), and then my Friends and Colleagues so I can keep up-to-date with their Facebook and Twitter updates.
For the other applications, I showed this gentleman how I can easily see all of my applications and applets by zooming out (pinching the Start screen).
Although I can zoom out the Start screen… I never do this. If there is an application I need, I just start typing the application name from the Start screen (i.e. Evernote).
With Search being pervasive throughout the operating system, I can also easily search for things like “Bluetooth” and let search find what I need. By switching the context from Apps to Settings (since Bluetooth isn’t an application), I can easily find how to change my Bluetooth settings… or search for “users” or “domain” or “power management.”
With Search, Folders are way overrated. It’s almost liberating not to have to classify everything on my computer. Reduce the clutter in your life – Optimize your Start Screen to the applications you need or use most often. Pin things that matter most like your productivity applications or your friends, family, and colleagues. Unpin (hide) the rest.
Windows 8 is a fresh new experience. Embrace it. I’m confident that you’ll enjoy the new experience.