Though Microsoft’s operating system isn’t released yet, Windows 8 Release Preview has a lot for personalization. In fact, the very first choice in Windows 8′s PC settings page is “Personalize,” where you can make the lock screen, your account picture, and start screen reflect your own style.
Windows 8 inherits many of the customization options that were available in Windows 7. You choose a desktop background, screensaver, and system sounds, and also take advantage of downloadable Themes, including some that are dynamically updated throughout the day. And you can now sync your customizations among all Windows 8 PCs you sign into.
1. Start Screen Color and Tattoos
With Release Preview, Windows 8 offers 25 different color combinations for your Start screen. Your color choice also affects the charms, your tattoo choice, and even the Windows logo itself.
Now you have a total of 20 tattoos to choose from, with some sporting flowers, planets, gears, guitars, or creatures. To get to this option, simply choose the Settings charm from the Start screen, Change PC settings, Personalize, and then Start screen.
2. Lock Screen Apps
The lock screen isn’t just a static picture waiting for you to log in: In addition to indicating battery level and the date and time, it can display useful information such as the number of email messages awaiting you, the current weather, and calendar appointments and reminders.
3. Lock Screen Picture
The first thing you see when you power up your Windows 8 PC or tablet is the lock screen. This is a familiar concept for smartphone users, but it’s a new one for PCs. To get to this option, choose the Settings charm from the Start screen, Change PC settings, Personalize, and then Lock screen.
4. Tile Sizes
One of the first things you’ll notice on the Windows 8 Start screen is that some of the app tiles are twice as wide as others. To change the size, right-click on a tile (or hold your finger on it and drag up or down if your using a touchscreen), to display the tile options. If the tile is the larger size, you’ll see a “Smaller” button, and vice versa for a large tile. Other choices here include unpinning the tile from the start menu, uninstalling the app, and turning off its live updates.
5. Group and Rearrange Tiles
There are plenty of ways to arrange your Start screen tiles to taste: click and drag a tile to change its position on the screen (or hold and drag on a touchscreen). For more global changes, you can pinch to zoom out (or Ctrl-mouse wheel), making your whole screen shrink, with all tiles on multiple screens visible. From this view, you can move and even name groups of tiles.
6. Account Picture
In Windows 8, your user picture is always starting up at you from your login screen and from the top-right of the start screen. From the PC Settings/Personalize page’s Account picture tab, you can either shoot a photo from the PC’s built-in webcam, or choose any image file in a folder on the PC.
Windows 8 features new “toast” notifications that appear temporarily at top-right when an app or the system has a message for you. From the Settings Charm, choose Change PC settings, then Notifications. From this settings page, you can turn on and off notifications from every app capable of sending them, or turn all off at once. You can also mute the notification sound if you prefer.
8. Customize Your Default Apps
Microsoft’s operating system comes with several new-style apps, which you can modify to your own needs and interests. Four in particular lend themselves to customization—News, Finance, Sports, and Weather . As with most new-style Windows 8 apps, you get to the customizations by right clicking on the program’s running screen, or, if you’re using a touch screen, by swiping in from the top or up from the bottom of the display. With any of these apps, you can pin a particular set of content to the Start screen, rather than just the general app.
9. Desktop background
A fair portion of the desktop customizations that existed under Windows 7 remain in Windows 8′s desktop mode. You can change the background , color, sounds, and screensaver. There are still Themes, including some with live-updated RSS themes. Moreover, your theme choices here can be synced with any other Windows 8 PC you log into.
10. Taskbar Options
To customise the Windows 8 desktop taskbar, right click on the taskbar, and choose Properties. Nearly all of the old reliable Windows 7 options are still available. You can change its position from the bottom to the top or either side, auto-hide it, change to small buttons, and uncombined a program’s windows. You can even add toolbars to the taskbar for addresses, links, the touch keyboard, or for Desktop, which gives access to not only any desktop icons, but also Libraries, My Computer, Control Panel, and more.