For the most part, Windows 8.1 changes the Metro interface side to the Windows 8 experience while leaving the Desktop experience alone. For instance, the Control Panel hasn’t changed much in Windows 8.1; on the Metro interface, though, PC Settings have developed an outsize role. PC Settings is so important now that many traditional Control Panel features have been rolled into it. It would appear that Microsoft aims to shift greater functionality to PC Settings in future versions of Windows. It may be important to begin learning right now about the new way in which you’re supposed to access system controls in Windows.
To begin, how do you access the Desktop Control Panel and Metro PC Settings
In a Windows 8.1 as in Windows 8, finding the traditional Desktop Control Panel is particularly easy – you have multiple routes to take. The easiest way available is to take your mouse to the bottom-left corner of your screen and right-click on the Start button (pressing the Windows key and the X key together is another way). Right away, you get a menu with a number of system control options. The Control Panel is the sixth item from the bottom. If you are on a touchscreen (or if you just like using Metro-like things), you need to take your mouse pointer to the top- or bottom-right corner of your screen. Right away, the Charm Bar pulls out. You need to click on Settings (the gearwheel icon). The shortcut to the Control Panel then appears at the top of the bar, while the Change PC settings shortcut appears at the very bottom.
You get controls under several categories under PC Settings
When you click on the PC Settings shortcut at the bottom of the Charm Bar, a new PC and Devices bar opens up with at least nine categories in which to make changes (you may have more than nine categories if your computer has devices like a Bluetooth adapter attached). Here’s a quick rundown of these categories.
Clicking on Display gives you access to the same resolution settings and other display-related settings that you usually get by right-clicking on your Desktop and picking Screen Resolution. Unfortunately, the Metro-style version is less capable in some ways. For instance, it can only detect two monitors. If you have a triple-monitor display system, you’re out of luck.
The Devices menu gives you access to settings related to several devices connected to your computer – printers, external hard drives, Webcams, routers, and so on. Here, too, all you get is a less powerful version of a traditional desktop feature – Devices and Printers. On Devices and Printers, you get access to multimedia devices, as well.
Corners and edges
Many features present on Windows 8 and 8.1 are only useful to those on touchscreens. They are only an annoyance to those on regular, non-touch computers. The Corners and Edges function on Change PC Settings helps you do away with these needless conveniences when you’re on such a non-touch computer. It allows you to switch off all swiping functions and Charm Bar functions. The Desktop Control Panel gets a similar feature to – under Taskbar and Navigation Properties.
Other options on PC Settings
Other options on PC Settings function in a similar way – they offer rudimentary controls on a visually appealing interface. You get controls for Power and Sleep, Accounts, Sign-in Options, Other Accounts, Search and Apps, Notifications, Network Control and so on.