Windows 8: what you'll need to relearn

And even figuring out how to close Modern UI programs can pose a challenge. There's no "x" top-right, no "File > Exit" option, no visual clues as to how this might be done − although the answer turns out to be reasonably simple.

To shut down apps with your mouse, first move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen until it changes to a hand icon, then click, hold, and drag it to the bottom of the screen. With Windows 8 you can release the left mouse button right away, but with 8.1 you have to wait until the app flips over. None of this is exactly obvious, of course, so the best approach might just be to press Alt+F4, which always closes the active program, whether you're on the desktop or the Start Screen.

This, and many of the other Windows 8 problems we've raised, are mostly just a matter of familiarity. They may be confusing at first, and perhaps take an extra click or two, but once you've learned the basics then life will mostly return to normal.

But other concerns still remain, in particular with the Start Screen, which just doesn't feel like it belongs on a desktop. If someone has a 27-inch monitor, will they be happy that they're restricted to displaying a maximum of three apps at the same time? Are they really going to look at the messy Apps View (which ditches the Start Menu's customisable folders and fills the screen with icons you don't really need), and think, "this is a step forward"?

It's important to keep this in perspective, of course. Whatever its interface issues, Windows 8 delivers a stack of worthwhile improvements to performance, security and reliability, more than enough to justify an upgrade. And bringing back the Start Menu with a tool like Classic Shell might simplify the migration process. Be ready for some frustrations, though: there are many significant changes, and it'll probably take quite some time before you have the system configured to suit your needs.

Mike Williams
Lead security reviewer

Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.