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We love when a new software version is released. It gives our staff plenty to tinker with – and sometimes plenty to nitpick (see this post by Joe Puckett). But, often, it also means new and better tools with which to get work done.

This season’s software is Windows 8 and Office 2013, and there’s plenty of information to absorb. We have been keeping on top of what is being written, and we have compiled a list of recent Windows 8 articles worth reading. If we had to categorize them, we’d say they fall into the following two buckets: practical tips and big-picture reviews.

Bookmark and enjoy!

Practical Matters

In “The Diehard’s Guide to Making the Most of Windows 8,” InfoWorld’s Serdar Yegulalp acknowledges up front the negatives that have been written about Windows 8 (namely, how it’s been called a two-faced UI, Windows Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde OS), but takes a glass-half-full approach by offering tips on how to get the most out of it.

Microsoft’s screenshot of multiple monitors (top), and Yegulalp’s view.

Microsoft’s screenshot of multiple monitors (top), and Yegulalp’s view. (Click image to enlarge)

He breaks it out into a handful of useful sections: coping with the loss of the Start menu; navigating the made-for-touch interface without touch (hooray for keyboard shortcuts); knowing when to go Metro; and successfully using multiple monitors with the new OS. It’s a clip-and-save piece for legacy Windows users, which focuses on the most immediate and pressing changes that will impact your moment-to-moment Windows use.

For more practical advice, see also:

Windows 8 Advent Means Enterprise IT Staff Needs to Start Preparing Now

Big Picture Thinking, and Largely Positive

With “Five Ways Windows 8 Overhauls The PC,” CNET’s Seth Rosenblatt writes that Windows 8 will change how we use computers.

“Windows 8 is Microsoft’s answer to the question of how to integrate mobile and desktop computing. For the most part, it succeeds, but it’s an ambitious answer that will be best understood only when many people to stop thinking of desktop and mobile as discrete entities,” he continues.

He offers a number of points that support his view:

For one, although touch will drive the buzz surrounding Windows 8, the keyboard and mouse aren’t dead. He writes that Windows 8 signals a new era in computing in that it offers a variety of control solutions.

Touch, of course, is the biggest star in this OS. And, writes Rosenblatt, the steepest part of the Windows 8 learning curve will be figuring out which app and operating system controls are hidden under which edges.

“The important lesson here is that the swipe gesture can be applied in ways we haven’t yet seen in Android or iOS, which allows the content to shine through,” he writes. “Microsoft’s engineering on the concept of hiding chrome and controls under the edge has made it accessible to touch pads, traditional mice, and hot keys.”

For more big-picture thinking, see also:

Windows 8 Takes Security To The Next Level

Windows 8 Comes to the Mac

The Case for Windows 8

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