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Whenever you switch to a new operating system there are always a few new things to learn – and with Windows 8, the learning curve has increased considerably with the new user interface and built-in store adding a new dimension to Microsoft's long-running OS.
One of the key differences in Windows 8 is the approach to social networking. Whereas previously it was something that was easily covered by visiting websites or installing third party clients, social networking in Windows 8 – typically accessing services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – is made all the more simple by the provision of integrated support and approved clients that can be downloaded from the store.
Getting to grips with social networking in Windows 8, therefore, might prove quite difficult to start with – until you've got to grips with the People screen.
Windows 8 People Explained
For many years, Windows has got by without having its own dedicated contact management system. Unlike Mac OS X, Windows has instead relied on its integrated email tool or third party solutions, but with Windows 8, this comes to an end with the introduction of the People screen.
Like its Windows Phone namesake, this holds the contact details for all of your friends and family, and can display details from various social networks.
Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, LinkedIn and Google accounts are all supported, and can be added either by opening People and clicking the Connect option in the top right corner and entering the account username and password.
The immense benefit of this is that Windows 8 will then effortlessly import the details for all of your contacts from Facebook, Google or whatever your preferred social networking service is. Opening the People tool will then display your friends for you to scroll through, and you can use the What's New button to see the latest news. Updates will also be displayed on the live tile on the Start screen.
Facebook On Windows 8
At the time of release, there is no dedicated Facebook app for Windows 8. Rather, users are expected to integrate the social network into their computers via the People screen, as described above.
This isn't really a massive hardship; although there is no access to groups and pages through this tool, and Facebook games are also disabled (all of which can of course be viewed through the Internet Explorer browser), you can effortlessly move through conversations on Facebook through the People screen.
Engaging with your friends is simply a case of clicking their update, reading through the comments and leaving your own. The View Notifications button in the People screen will display any responses to threads that you're involved in.
If you want to update your own status, meanwhile, you can do so from the main People screen – click Me and in the Facebook "What's on your mind?" field you can leave your thoughts. This view also provides access to your Facebook photos by scrolling right.
Twitter For Windows 8
It's not too different with Twitter. Importing an account requires the same steps, and the What's New button displays not only updates from Facebook but also Twitter.
When you want to comment on or like a Twitter update, once again all you need to do is select it and tap the Like button and/or leave a comment; new status updates can be left by clicking the drop-down arrow (if there are multiple accounts setup) and selecting Twitter, before entering your thoughts.
You will be alerted to mentions and retweets in the View Notifications screen. Although not the most ideal way of using Twitter, the integration is good, and the Start screen live tile updates make it ideal for quick use.
Social Networking, The Windows 8 Way
Simple integration of these popular social networks enables users to skimp on installing dedicated apps, although in the case of Twitter this isn't recommended for intensive use.
Accounts for both Twitter and Facebook can be added to Windows 8, thereby populating your contacts screen (People) and enabling you to quickly interact with friends and family on your new computer.
Meanwhile, third party apps (for Twitter at least!) are provided that expand on the native integration – and if you want to play Facebook games, you can simply launch the web browser!
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