Tips for a smooth transition from Windows XP, Office 2003 to Windows 8.1, Office 365

You use the familiar Windows desktop to work with Office apps in Windows 8.1, and can use IE from the desktop as well if you want.

With Microsoft support for Windows XP and Office 2003 ending April 8, small businesses and consumers are upgrading to newer devices with updated technology. For people still using technology from more than a decade ago, Microsoft’s new operating system and productivity software — Windows 8.1 and Office 365 — will look and feel a little different. But knowing a few simple tips will make for an easy transition.

In Windows 8.1:

Meet the Start screen. Start is where Windows 8.1 displays apps, contacts and more in an easy-to-navigate tile format, which can be organized by dragging and dropping the tiles into labeled groups. It’s easy to navigate back to Start from anywhere in Windows by swiping inward from the right edge of the touchscreen and tapping Start — or by pressing the Windows logo key on the keyboard. Moving the mouse to the lower-left corner of the screen also brings up a direct shortcut to the Start screen.

Get to know the five charms. The five “charms” — Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings — are shortcuts to frequently used actions such as searching the Web and the hard drive, printing documents, and emailing photos and links. They’re always available on the right side of the screen no matter where you are in Windows — just swipe inward from the right edge if you’re using touch, or move the mouse to one of the right-hand corners or press the Windows logo key + C.

The familiar desktop is still there. The desktop is where you find programs such as Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Access the desktop from anywhere in Windows 8 by tapping or clicking on the Desktop tile on the Start screen, or pressing the Windows logo key + D on the keyboard.

Go to the desktop at sign-in.

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or, if using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down and then clicking on Search), entering Taskbar in the search box and then tapping or clicking on Taskbar and Navigation in the results.
  2. Tap or click on the Navigation tab, then tap or click on the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box. Then tap or click on OK.

In Office 365:

Explore Office 365 on the Web. All of the familiar Office apps that people already know and use — such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint — are accessible online through Office Online for no extra cost. In addition, employees can access their email, calendars and contacts, and use their team site to share and collaborate on documents from anywhere and on nearly any device.

Connect Office 365 to mobile devices. People can access Office 365 on any mobile device via Office Web Apps, but Windows Phone and iPhone users can download specific apps that make accessing email and files even easier.

“Windows 8.1 and Office 365 have been designed for how we work today,” said Thomas Hansen, Microsoft vice president of worldwide small and medium business. “These new technologies provide people with a consistent and personalized experience no matter which device they’re using or where they’re working, enabling them to collaborate with colleagues and get business done efficiently. For small businesses, solutions like Windows 8.1 and Office 365 boost productivity from day one, allowing them to carry their office in their pocket.”

For more helpful resources for making the jump from outdated technology to Windows 8.1 and Office 365, visit the Retiring Windows XP site, the Windows 8 Pro site and the Office 365 for Business site.

You might also be interested in:

· Small businesses: Stay safe, get up to date before Windows XP, Office 2003 support ends April 8
· Free file transfer tool available if you’re moving from Windows XP to a new PC
· Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 ends April 8, 2014 — what’s next?