Windows 8 works in a similar fashion as previous Windows releases, but the most noticeable change is the absence of the classic "Start" menu. Windows 8 includes a new "Start screen," which takes the place of the old Start menu. It allows users to open applications and access information.
By default, Windows 8 automatically opens the Start screen when the computer powers on. In addition to opening applications from the Start screen, users can add new "tiles" to this screen, which provide access to services, such as weather forecasts and news headlines, without the need to open a separate application. Users can access the traditional Windows desktop from the Start screen by clicking the "Desktop" tile, or by pressing the Windows key on the keyboard.
Windows 8 includes support for desktop computers, laptops and tablets. Microsoft also touts a new feature that allows users who have a touchscreen input device to perform tasks with touch instead of a traditional keyboard and mouse.
According to Microsoft, 4 million users installed Windows 8 during its first week of availability, falling short of internal estimates. Windows 8 has faced criticism from users for its exclusion of the traditional Start button and menu, which prompted Microsoft to release an upgraded version of Windows 8, called Windows 8.1, that features the return of the Start button.