That laptop you purchased this holiday may look similar to notebooks you’ve purchased in the past. It isn’t. The Windows notebooks we have to today are more agile, more media centric and more productivity driven. Some of the new features of notebooks are hardware focused. There are new hinges that allow buyers to flip the screen in a different direction. Maybe your new Windows notebook has a touchscreen so that you aren’t stuck using a mouse and keyboard all day.
Here are 7 things to do with your new Windows notebook running Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system. Windows 8.1 is a free software upgrade that Microsoft made available to users of Windows 8 last year. Chances are that Windows 8.1 is already on your new notebook. If what you see on your screen doesn’t look like what we have here that’s ok. If connected to the internet, Windows 8 will download the Windows 8.1 update for you in the background and let you know when it’s ready to install it.
Stream or Mirror Windows 8 to a TV
Now more than ever, getting some sort of second screen experience is important. Notebook screens have improved a lot. It’s a rarity to find a notebook that doesn’t have a high-definition display. That being said, size is a factor too. There’s nothing worse than forcing a crowd of people to huddle around a Windows notebook with a 13-inch screen trying to see something. That’s where mirroring comes in. Windows 8 allows users to connect to other displays wireless.
It’s really as simple as a few button presses, if you have the right equipment already. Microsoft’s Xbox One doesn’t allow you to mirror your entire screen – it’s for streaming video and music only. You can purchase a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter for just this purpose. Any set-top box or display that supports Intel’s WiDi wireless display technology works too.
Share Almost Anything
Sharing pictures, websites and more with friends, family and just about anyone in between has never been that easy. Past versions of Windows required users to save a picture then email it to someone. Sending a link required a button on the real website or copying a pasting the link into an email.
Windows notebooks now have something called the Share Charm. The Share Charm allows users to send screenshots, pictures, links and more with people they know directly through the Mail app. Additionally, it supports sharing on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks with a Windows Store app.
Make a Website an App
One of the things you’re going to quickly notice about Windows 8 is the app store. Finally, there’s a single safe place for users to purchase games and apps without a web browser in Windows. That’s the good news. The bad news is that more often than not, Windows notebooks are missing a lot of the apps you may be familiar because you’re an iPhone or Samsung owner.
The Windows Store’s selection can and will get better overtime. That being said, we’re all looking for a quick fix in the meantime. That quick fix is app pins. Say you’re looking for a decent podcast app for Windows. There isn’t a such thing yet, but there are web apps like Pocket Casts. You can sign up for Pocket Cast and pin it to your Start Screen so that you can access it quickly, almost how you would a native app – provided that you have an internet connection.
Use a Picture as a Password
The iPhones iOS operating system allows users with a compatible iPhone to unlock their phone quickly using their finger. Windows doesn’t allow that yet, but Windows notebook users can log into their device using what’s called a picture password. Once configured, logging into a notebook with Picture Password on is as simple as a few swipes on a track pad. Windows notebooks with touch can use Picture Password with their touchscreen too. Best of all, picture passwords are compatible with personal photos too.
Rent a Movie
Windows Media Player is still kicking around on Windows notebooks these days. That being said, it hasn’t been updated for new usage scenarios in years. Truth be told, Windows notebook buyers are more likely to rent a movie digitally than purchase it. That’s where Xbox Video comes in.
Xbox Video allows users to rent a movie for $5.99 or way less. Pricing depends on whether it a high-definition rental or standard definition. Streaming rentals are available, but those who are planning to take a trip somewhere are better off storing a video rental on their Windows notebook if they have enough free storage space.
Turn Your Windows Notebook into an Xbox One
Microsoft’s Xbox One console hit stores last year with a controller so great that users immediately wanted to know when it’d be available for PC games. Microsoft delivered that functionality earlier this year. Now anyone and everyone can download games to their Windows notebook, plug-in an Xbox One controller and play like they’re at home sitting in front of their console.
Many of the games available in the Windows Store are compatible with the Xbox One controller and feature Xbox Live Achievements. In short, any Windows notebook can become an Xbox One, almost.
Run Apps Side by Side
Every Windows notebook allows users to run Desktop apps. Desktop apps are what we traditionally thought of as Windows apps before Windows 8. They run in Desktop in windows. These are what we think of as iTunes and Windows Media Player. Windows Store apps don’t run in the Desktop yet – that’s not happening until Windows 10.
Luckily most Windows notebooks have displays so decent that running Windows Store apps side by side is a breeze. Users with touch can drag a Windows Store app to the side of their notebook’s screen and then open another to multitask. Notebooks without touch can multitask too, they just have to drag the top of the window with their mouse.
Good luck with your new Windows notebook.