In Windows 8, the new PC Settings interface provides a partial replacement to the old Control Panel, though that older interface continues in the new OS for more advanced configuration settings. Not surprisingly, PC Settings has gotten the once over in the Windows 8 Release Preview. Here are some of the changes you can expect.
You may recall that PC Settings was available as a tile back in the Developer Preview, but that the tile was removed in the Consumer Preview. This, sadly, has not changed, which is too bad: Many users would like such a tile. But what has changed is the link you use to get to PC Settings from the Settings pane (WINKEY + I): In the Consumer Preview, this was called More PC Settings, but in the Release Preview it’s changed to Change PC Settings.
The Personalize view in PC Settings provides three separate interfaces: Lock screen, Start screen, and Account picture.
Lock screen gets modest layout changes, with the “Change your picture” text removed and a few new provided background images. The available lock screen apps are the same between releases—Calendar, Mail, Messaging, and Weather—as are the detailed status choices (Calendar and Weather).
The Start screen interface has changed only to accommodate the new color schemes that are available in the Release Preview. (The background patterns are unchanged.) Check out Windows 8 Release Preview: Metro Color Schemes Screenshot Gallery for a full listing of the new color schemes.
Account picture, like Lock screen, has been cleaned up, with the Camera app option moved to the “Create an account picture” section where it belongs.
The Users interface is almost identical to that of the Consumer Preview, but with two changes. A new link titled More account settings online takes you (via IE Metro) to the Windows Live web site. And a new Change button lets you configure whether users need a password to wake the PC.
Notifications has been cleaned up from a layout perspective, but the big news is that many more apps now support notifications in the Release Preview, so they’re available from the list of possible apps. These include Calendar, Mail, News, Store, and others.
Aside from some layout cleanup, the Search interface hasn’t changed much. But as with Notifications, there are now more apps that take advantage of the Search contract, including News, Sports, and Travel.
Another subtly evolved interface, Share gets a cleanup and one major addition to the list of apps that can accept Share requests: Now you can share via People (and thus over social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and others) in addition to Mail.
No major changes here, but the PC Reset feature, called “Reset your PC and start over” has been renamed to “Remove everything and reinstall Windows”, presumably for clarity.
No major changes, but the “Metered Internet Connections” section has been renamed to “Download over metered connections” and its descriptive text has been updated.
Ease of Access
Sync Your Settings
This very important interface gets just a few small changes related to language usage, but nothing worth discussing.
The Metro front-end to Windows’ homegroup feature hasn’t changed.
This interface receives only very minor changes, mostly related to simpler/clearer language usage. (The “Check for updates” button is now labeled as “Check for updates now”, for example.) You can still click links that described pending automatic installs to install them immediately.
But wait, there’s more!
Discover much, much more about the Windows 8 Release Preview in Windows 8 Release Preview: The Ultimate Delta Guide, a guide to all of the articles I’ve published about this milestone build of Microsoft’s next OS.