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Windows 8: the complete guide

Our in-depth guide to Microsoft's new OS

People

The People app brings all your contacts into one place. It's hardly a new idea, but it's the first time Windows has had a native app to pull in contact information from various websites. Most popular social networking sites are listed, and it's simply a case of logging in with your username and password and providing permission for the app to access the information.

Windows 8 People

Tap on a contact and you're given options for getting in touch, such as phone numbers and addresses. To the right, a number of panes will appear depending on the information available. For example, a What's new pane might show recent status updates from sites such as Twitter and a Photos pane could show recent images uploaded to sharing sites.

Contacts Windows 8

Media

Although Media Center and Media Player are still present, there are Metro-style apps as well. Music combines your local library with the music marketplace so you can quickly add to your collection.  Video is a separate app which looks identical to music and displays the files in the Videos folder. There's no 'video marketplace' yet, but there will almost certainly be one in the final version of Windows 8.

Windows 8 Music

In both apps, it's easy to control playback with your fingers, but it's not so easy to find what you're looking for. Admittedly, most of the Metro-style apps are unfinished, which would explain why it isn't possible to quickly jump to artists beginning with a certain letter, for example. Currently, you can browse only by 'most played'.

Windows 8 Music - now playing

Photos is perhaps the most polished of the media apps. It puts your pictures front and centre and is perfect for a touchscreen. As well as photos stored in your Pictures folder, you can link your Facebook, Flickr and SkyDrive (see below) photos, and view them all using the same great interface.

Windows 8 Photos - Facebook

Tap Facebook for example, and you'll see a list of albums just as you would if you tapped on Pictures library. A clever trick is the ability to pinch to zoom out from this view and see smaller album thumbnails to save you scrolling horizontally through all the big thumbnails. You can use the same trick when viewing photos themselves to see more of the contents of an album onscreen. If you don't have a touchscreen, hold Ctrl on your keyboard and use your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in and out. If you don't hold Ctrl, the mouse wheel scrolls through photos in a slideshow, or through lots of thumbnails if there are too many to fit on screen at once.

Windows 8 Photos - Semantic Zoom

NEXT PAGE: Mail, Messaging, Internet Explorer 10

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