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Windows 8.1 Quick Start

Here is a fast way to get up and running on Windows 8.1, taking advantage of the real strength of the Start screen. This is based on the recommendations presented in How to Love Windows 8.1

This is a pre-configuration script that is very specifically designed for those who use Firefox and  Gmail and it's associated functions: Contacts, Calendars, Maps. If you are an Android phone or tablet user, you will especially appreciate this.

 This is what your start screen will look like, after running the setup. Only tiles that you should find useful will remain. They have been organized into groups. Once setup is completed, you can modify your Start screen however you like.

The configuration assumes you will install the following programs. All of these are free and may  be downloaded by clicking on the names.
  • Firefox: Web browser with great functionality and security that you can tailor to your preferences.  You may wish to use the pre-configured Setup available near the bottom of the post "Firefox Browser - Why and How?"
  • Apache Open Office: Free alternative to Window Office
  • Thunderbird Mail Client:  Free alternative to the old Outlook functions
  • Picasa: Excellent photo organizer, touchup, and sharing software. Recommend you decline to load other programs, such as Chrome, when installing this.
  • Keepass: Password vault to securely keep all of your user ids and passwords under lock and key
We also assume you will regularly use these websites:
  • Gmail
  • Google Contacts
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Maps
  • Facebook
If you do not install any of the above programs, their tiles will not be displayed
If you don't use any of the websites noted, you can delete their tiles.

If you are brand new to Windows 8 and are stuck on the "Dreaded Default Start Screen" or in some app,   hold down the Windows Key and press D. This will always  take you to the conventional Desktop view.

If you are having problems finding where the files were downloaded, click on the Folder icon in your taskbar and search for Downloads in This Computer

If you have previously modified your Start screen, this will replace it, so you may want to create a new account from the Control Panel and try it there. 

Here's how easy it is to setup:
  1. Download each of the programs listed above and install on your computer. If queried, select them as your default program
  2. Download THIS QUICKSTART zip file and extract the enclosed folder:
    1. Right-click on zip file, 
    2. Open with: Windows Explorer
    3. Select the folder, and Extract (top menu)
  3. Double click on Setup within the extracted folder and follow the displayed instructions.*
After completing these steps, your Start screen should be similar to the image above. From here, you can customize it as you like, using the techniques in  
How to Love Windows 8.1  .

If you use this process, please leave a comment and let me know how it worked for you. Thanks!

* In general, never click on batch files from unknown sources.  Nasty people can do nasty things. To be safe, right click on any batch file before running and open with an editor (Notepad, etc). Look at the instructions in the file and be sure nothing looks suspicious or destructive. 

In the attached batch file, the following commands in addition to instructions are provided:
  1. copy "Shortcuts for AppDrawer\*.*" "C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs"
  2. copy "appsFolder.itemdata-ms"  "c:\users\%username%\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\"
  • Command #1 copies shortcuts to point to specific websites into the Apps View folder so associated tiles may be displayed in the Start screen
  • Command #2 replaces the file which displays all of the undesired Microsoft Apps Tiles on the Start screen with the ones that are displayed in the image above.  Only tiles for programs that are already installed will display.

1 comment:

  1. Len, I used your set-up process last January or February when I got my new laptop. Worked great! Then in September my hard drive died. Of course, it was under warranty and was replaced, but now I need to go through your system and set up and organize everything all over again...smile...which I want to do as I loved how everything was organized. Thanks for figuring all this out and writing clear instructions for us.