An odd decision or a bit of a bungle?

By | September 15, 2014
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A few things that might be useful if you have Windows 8 and an interesting website I mentioned the other day…

A problem with Windows 8 or an odd decision by Microsoft?

Funny things, coincidences.  Last week I was using a “spare” laptop from that has Windows 8 on it and found something odd.  And the very next day we had an email from someone asking about exactly the same problem… so it’s not just me!

Here’s what was happening:

Normally in Windows 8 or 8.1, when you click on the Internet Explorer tile on the Start screen, Internet Explorer (I’m going to just call it IE to save typing…) starts up.  And unless you have set it to do something different, it starts up as an app running on top of the start screen.

On the other hand, if you start IE from the desktop, it starts up in the desktop.

Makes sense.

But suddenly I found that even when I clicked it on the start screen, it started in the desktop.

It didn’t particularly bother me, but if you’re trying to learn Windows 8, it’s a bit confusing!

It’s due to some very bizarre decision by Microsoft… though I half-wonder if actually it was a mistake rather than a deliberate decision.

It turns out that if you have a different web browser (eg Google Chrome or Firefox) set as your default, the one used if you don’t choose a specific one, then if you do click on IE, it always starts in the desktop.

You might not even have deliberately chosen a different default browser – when you install Chrome it asks if it can be the default and it’s easy to click yes without even realising it.

I’ve no idea why anyone thought this was a good idea… as I say, I wonder if it was an accident.

But if you do want to change it back, here’s how:

  1. Start up IE (it’ll start in the desktop but that’s fine)
  2. Click on the cog wheel near the top right hand corner of the screen.
  3. Choose Internet options
  4. Choose the programs tab at the top – I think it’s the second from the right but I’m not at a Windows 8 PC so I wouldn’t swear to it.  It’s near the right, anyway.
  5. Near the top, you can click to make IE the default browser.  When you click the link, it doesn’t do it straight away (that would be too easy!).  It takes you to a screen where you can choose the default for all sorts of things.  Click on IE in the list on the left and then click on the option to make it default for everything.

That should sort it.

As if by magic, the start menu appeared…

By the way, if you have Windows 8 (or 8.1) and wish you didn’t… or at least wish it was a bit more like Windows used to be, with a proper start menu, you might find useful.  There are a few programs designed to make Windows 8 a bit more like Windows 7 used to be, but this collection is probably one of the best.

(Thanks to Tony, a reader of these newsletters, for recommending this one)

An interesting website I mentioned the other day

I mentioned the other day about a website someone had put together about their family history and how it’s a really good example of what you can discover with a bit of perseverance (and a little bit of luck).

I thought it could be interesting for everyone who’s interested in Family History to have a look at it so I checked with the family who put it together and they said they’re happy for me to give you the web address – so here you are:

As Nick said, not everyone will be lucky enough to get back as far as they’ve managed – but you’ve a good chance of getting back as far as the 17th Century… and who knows?

Anyway, it’s an interesting site anyway, so well worth a browse!