Windows 8 Consumer Preview runs reasonably well on netbooks as well as other notebook or desktop computers. But clearly the new Metro-style user interface was designed to be touched.
So when the folks at Kupa offered to send me a Kupa X11 tablet loaded with the latest pre-release version of Windows 8, I jumped at the chance. The X11 normally ships with Windows 7, but the $799 tablet has all the basic hardware requirements needed for a decent Windows 8 experience.
One of the first things I wanted to do was familiarize myself with the new touch-based gestures for navigating Windows.
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a good list of gestures. I guess if you want something done right… anyway, here’s a quick overview of gestures you can use to navigate in Windows 8 on a computer with a touchscreen.
1. Swipe from the right (Charms menu)
When you pull your finger from the bezel on the right side of a tablet to the left a little bit you bring up the Windows 8 “charms.” These include the Search, Share, Devices, and Settings icons — as well as a shortcut to the Start Screen.
2. Swipe from the left (Switch apps)
When you have multiple apps running you can slide your finger from the left screen bezel to the right to switch between them. This is sort of like the Metro version of Alt+Tab.
3. Swipe slowly from the left (Snap apps)
If you perform the same left-to-right action more slowly, instead of switching from one full screen app to another you can drag one app out and display it side-by-side with the app that was already on your screen.
One app will take up about a quarter of the display while the other takes up three quarters. You can decide which app gets more room by dragging the black bar in the center.
4. Swipe from left-and-back (Show running apps)
You can drag your finger from the left edge of the touchscreen and then quickly drag it back to bring up a bar that shows thumbnail images of all the apps that are currently running. Tap on any app to switch to it, or tap the icon at the bottom to return to the Start Screen.
5. Pull down from the top (Close app)
You can close an app that’s currently running by starting at the top bezel and pulling your finger about halfway down the screen. Imagine you’re throwing the app in an invisible trash bin at the bottom.
6. Swipe down (Bring up additional menus)
While you can access app settings from the Charms menu, pulling down from the top of the screen or up from the bottom can bring up additional menu options. Just make sure to only drag your finger a tiny bit — pulling too far from the top bezel can close an app (see above).
For instance, in Internet Explorer 10, pulling down a little from the top brings up the tab menu showing a list of currently open browser tabs as well as a new tab button. This also brings up the URL bar.
On the Windows Start Screen pulling down (or up) brings up an option to view all the apps on your PC, not just those that are pinned to the Start Screen.
7. Swipe down on an item (Select)
At the Start Screen, you can swipe downward on any tile to select it and bring up additional options. For instance, you can resize a tile, uninstall an app, unpin an app from the Start Screen, or turn of the “live tile” so that the shortcut is still on the Start Screen but the app won’t display constantly updated information.
8. Pinch (Zoom)
Over the past few years pinching has become the de facto zoom control on touch-based operating systems. Windows 8 is no different and you can pinch to zoom in the Internet Explorer 10 web browser, making text and images larger.
You can also zoom out of the Start Screen, allowing you to quickly move to another area if you have many apps installed.
9. Swipe left/right in Internet Explorer (Move back, forward)
When using Internet Explorer 10 in Metro mode, there are icons in the URL menu bar for moving back to the previous page or forward to the one you just left to go back.
But you can also perform these actions with touch-based gestures. Just slide your finger from the left side of the screen to the right to go back, or from right to left to go forward.
While most of the gestures listed above require you to start from the screen bezel, moving forward or back in IE10 only works if you don’t start from the bezel. That’s because you don’t want to switch applications or bring up the Charms menu. So you just touch the web page you’re looking at and swipe left or right.