Love it or hate it, Windows 8 is a major departure from Microsoft’s past interfaces. While previous versions of Windows kept mostly the same mouse-driven metaphor as their predecessors, even veteran Windows users may find the start of their Windows 8 experience a little disorienting.

For the average PC user, some of the changes may turn once routine tasks into frustrating excursions involving Windows 8’s manifold gestures, especially if that average PC user is trying to use Windows 8 with a mouse. On the other hand, experiencing Windows 8 on a touch-capable device is somewhat more intuitive—but some basic aspects of the OS will still mystify many.

Don’t panic. Here are the essential things you need to know to climb Windows 8’s learning curve quickly—and, if you are so inclined, to make Windows 8 look a little more like that old Windows you knew so well. Once you’ve gotten past the distractions of the shiny animated Start page, you’ll be productive in no time. And you can even make that Start screen go away if you want.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab