Gotcha! Accelerator Keys, Bookmarks, Pinning, and QAT: A lost art


Photo is from Windows 8 Shortcuts by FirstLook: A free app that I downloaded from the Windows Store several months ago launched via the Start Screen in Windows 8. Searched for keyboard shortcuts and there it was. Screenshot (above) courtesy of the Start key + S key combo that you get with OneNote 2013 desktop (paid) version. There is also a OneNote 2013 modern (free) app available in the Windows Store. However, the keyboard shortcut (Start+S) is installed by the paid version is, unfortunately, not there in the free one. Gotcha!

The Start Screen in Windows 8, in my opinion, is the major gotcha in Windows 8. What do I mean by gotcha? An unforeseen obstacle. For who? For anyone who buys or sees it. Why? Some folks may not need all the bells and whistles and at this point may not view it as a wise investment. For me, yes, it’s a wise investment. But I’m blogging about this stuff and I need to keep my Dell T7400 running in tip top shape to be able to run the max amount of apps and get more done, be more productive. So for me it has been a wise investment. But if you’re interested, the Surface RT and Surface Pro are the prototypes Microsoft has built to inspire other OEMs to create their own RT (ARM) or Pro (Intel/AMD) device. If you haven’t tried it yet, there’s probably one at Best Buy or Staples if you live near one if you are truly interested in Windows on a touch. Then compare against a desktop (non-touch) device in the same store if possible.

Why am I talking about accelerator keys and QAT then? Accelerator keys are just keyboard shortcuts that you can either program or configure on your operating system, or even into Word. Macro shortcut keys are a good example. The Quick Access Toolbar that was introduced with Office 2007’s Fluent UI (User Interface), or the Ribbon.


Photo of the “Start” screen my Dell Precision Workstation T7400 running Windows 8 Professional 64-bit. Took it by pressing Start+S and pasting into Live Writer by placing my insertion point (cursor) above this paragraph, in a paragraph with nothing typed in it yet, and simply pressed Ctrl+V.


So how could it be viewed and rationalized by information workers (power users) that it may not be a wise for others then? They’re not “all in” on the Microsoft vision for the cloud. It’s probably they don’t own a portable device. Whether it be a tablet or a smartphone. They may just not need one. Either they don’t need to be portable or they’ve defacto committed to iPhone or Droid via wireless contract. Bleeding edge consumers who like their gadgets may just be committed to Apple and Google altogether, they’re lifelong users and that’s just that. Apple users, who are by choice Apple consumers, who a required by their job to use Windows 8 may have interesting opinions on this topic. But I digress, for now.

Let’s look at the scenario I found myself in when I installed Windows 8 RTM* (no service pack, yet, obviously) on my home computer back about last October (2012). Before that I had tested the beta but only for work. Not regularly, in a non-controlled environment and outside the think-tank (workplace) to play freely.

I had the following scenario:

1-PC with Windows 7

1-Mobile phone with Windows Phone 7

When I installed Windows 8 on my home computer that was the first time I had tested it on a physical machine. Before that it was in virtual machine environments. I knew about the Start screen. But what I really cared about was if the Start “key” on the keyboard would work. In the Hyper-V manager connection it didn’t. So I checked and found the on-screen keyboard which you can get by hitting Start menu, move cursor to far lower right corner of the screen, then move up to hit Start. You can also do that from the top right corner or the lower left to get your old Start+Tab screen (live thumbnail preview of cycling through programs via Alt+Tab.

“Where’s that Tab I ordered…”


Here’s what I have today:

1-PC with Windows 8 Professional

1-Surface Pro with 128 GB built-in storage (SDD)

1-Windows Phone 8, an HTC 8x

From my experience on this configuration, here’s my final synopsis, or review if you will, on Windows 8:

Great for touch devices and bleeding edge Windows geeks.

Good for anyone interested in getting a touch device. Whether it be a tablet or desktop. They make those now you know.

Bad for non-touch, desktops users who want to get things done and IT helpdesk staff.

Ugly for those implementing, migrating, upgrading, evangelizing. The only good scenarios I foresee is if you have folks from the first two either in your social network or colleagues at work.

I guess I’m stuck in the final quadrant. But, for me, I see lots of software come and go and don’t blame the companies as much anymore that make it. But with that said, the end-users ultimately rule the roost and have a strong influence on how and why I write content such as this article.


Bottom line, don’t fee pressured to move to Windows 8 just yet if you haven’t already. If you’re comfortable staying there, especially if you’re purchasing the licenses for your org, and you’re on Windows 7, then you’ve staved off upgrades for another year. But with a warning, be sure to get it in your budget for next year or look at Windows codename Blue. Yep, they’re already going there.

But what about search? When I click on the Start button I want to be able to search there! Start + Q. However, this will be a problem for those intermingling, or co-existing in the workplace using different versions of Windows. My answer for Windows 8 users talking to Windows 7 users: Start key. Or, let’s say, if you yourself have Windows 7 at home but Windows 8 at work or vice versa. Or worse, Vista!!! Same steps, same ultimate result. Just a different search experience once you get past that point. But I digress, again. Windows 7 users will likely still want to use their mouse and click the Start button. Understandable. The old option for searching on Windows XP was Ctrl+F. Don’t get me started on those Fn keys! (laptops)


Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Windows Live Writer 2012. Notice that I’ve customized mine a bit, adding the from your computer command that you get here:


Inserting a photo from computer. Also possible if you copied to clipboard using Ctrl+V, provided you actually copied a photo by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+C.


Probably the best command in Live Writer would be Post draft to blog, just right-click it on the Ribbon if you have Live Writer 2012.


And there you go, it’s now on the QAT. Brilliant!


Takes some time getting used to though. I still find myself going down the same path of clicking the Insert tab.

But why do I say “a lost art” in the title then when commenting on shortcuts, accelerators, and QAT? Because art is activity. Thus, if you are in the activity of being productive (working in an office) and are an information worker, then work is kind of your art. So keyboard shortcuts, in my opinion, can be a great way to maximize your productivity even though you may not agree, like, care, or ever want to even look at another Windows 8 or Vista box. All the new bells and whistles, sometimes, cover the forest behind the trees: Getting things done faster in less time with less clicks.

And finally, a word on pinning. On my desktop non-touch Dell T7400 device at home, I hardly use the Start Screen as much as I used to, unless I’m testing a new Windows app or something related to the new Modern UI. So what I do is pin items to my Taskbar and Start menu, any chance I find one that I need via Start+Q. To me it’s all about real-estate. How much you can fit into that strip on the desktop.

As far as the Surface, I’m only using that when I’m on the road which hasn’t been much lately. I’ll need to blog from that this upcoming weekend. Provided I can get Live Writer on there.

One tip for those interested in purchasing a Surface. Ask for devices with ARM chips running Windows RT and compare pricing to Intel/AMD devices. Do a comparison of Windows RT to Pro features. You’ll want to get to know those gotchas for down the road.


RTM stands for Release to Manufacturing

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer (e.g. Dell, HP, IBM, Apple, Google). They make the device, PC, hardware, etc…

ISV stands for Independent Software Vendor (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!). They focus more on the software (OS/apps) side of things.

Softpedia article with Windows (keyboard) shortcuts:

Photo #3 of Homer Simpson courtesy Bing Images.

Don’t Judge!!! Except when…

You don’t want to judge anyone or anything on a personal level but on a professional level I’d say “Yes, do judge!” Because money’s involved and there’s always a marketing angle (gimmick) attached. You don’t want to judge someone individually or a companies philosophies. But when it comes to an ad campaign. Oh heck yes! Please judge.

That’s the one reason I don’t care much for personal opinions in ads or suggestive content. Not that I won’t like what perceive (think) they’re suggesting, just that someone else might not. That’s all.

The first thing I ask myself when (I suspect) someone tries to sell me something looks or sounds to me like a gimmick is “is there money involved here?” and what I always tell myself (if I’m lucky) is “there usually is”.

Does that give me the right to judge someone prior to further investigation (vetting)? No, just be skeptical.

A good example, in my opinion of course, are the use of tattoos (body art) in society today. I honestly can no longer tell if someone gets one (tattoo) because they’re simply expressing themselves, communicating a belief, or exploiting themselves. But that would be judging them. Right? Yes, unless they try to sell me something… Then I start eyeballing (judging) and analyzing their artwork.

Don’t get me wrong though, there’s some tattoos that are just cool artwork. I don’t have them but the more cool ones I see, the more I want one… Just hope I don’t whore (exploit) myself out after I do. Not judging there (am I?), just expressing an opinion about two separate things that every once in a while seem to collide. (art/money)

Office 365 and “cloud” subscriptions

What is could computing? It’s storing stuff in the cloud and having everything in one central place for accessibility, agility, and redundancy. Some go all-in and dump it all up there. Others, like me, use a hybrid solution. There are some documents that I don’t want out there, for obvious reasons.


What’s Office 365? I’ve been using Office 365 for quite a while. But I was using it back before it was even called Office 365, can’t even recall right now what it was. Which is probably good. I actually have two subscriptions. One for Home and Business called “Office 365 Home and Business” that I purchased a one year subscription for $99.00, bumping up my SkyDrive (cloud) storage by 20GB (I think). I purchased that along with my Surface Pro from Microsoft Store. The other subscription is Office 365 Enterprise 4 (E4) that’s basically an enterprise subscription, really an E3, grandfathered in from when I worked at Microsoft. Legacy account that was upgraded to Office 365 back when it was released. I recently converted it to a paid subscription for $20.00/month. So I have two subscriptions for 120.00+99.00=$219.00/year. Each cover one user (me).


Subscriptions are really just paying per month or per year, or whatever service contract you get into. Stop paying, stop using. Like the phone or electric company. Or, your internet service provider charging you per month as opposed to metering your usage and charging you for that (wireless data plans).


SharePoint is a web solution (web application, service running on web server(s)) that enables you to create a business portal (site collections/subsites) without the need to know web development or web design. It’s like FrontPage but for businesses and it’s all web based. So you don’t need to install an app on the client. But you can install Office suite or SharePoint Workspace (Groove) and interact with SharePoint server from the client with those apps acting as the client front end to interface with SharePoint’s front end. It’s sometimes hosted on premise, partner hosting, or on Office 365 subscription.


SharePoint Online is the “cloud” service or off-premise or outsourced version of SharePoint. They host it, not you. It comes bundled in enterprise (volume) offerings of Office 365.


So if someone approaches and asks me What is Office 365? what do I tell them? I tell them that Office 365 is simply a suite of web applications (running on web servers on the Internet), similar to how the Microsoft Office suite bundles apps for Windows or Mac computers. Microsoft Office is not an application*, it’s a product or a SKU (stock keeping unit). A box, if you will. Just another way to get the apps, or in this case, services. Office 365 Home and Business can be purchased in a box at a store but it’s just a card with a (25 character) product key to unlock the product. But that’s all done online, you just buy a license in a box, basically.


Home/Startup/SMB versus Large Organization/Corporation/Enterprise:
Office 365 Home and Business, gives you more storage in the cloud (SkyDrive, 20GB) and Skype minutes (60/month). I’m not sure if they replenish per month or not. Or if it’s just 60 for the whole year. Need to check on that.

Office 365 Enterprise suites, give you SharePoint Online, Exchange, Lync, Office suite (clients). I think with the higher suites (E3/E4) you’ll get more web services like Office Web Apps hosted (not on SkyDrive) or Visio Services (not on E1/E2). That was last time I checked. So I could be off on those. But I do know that it’s not related to SkyDrive, you store your documents in SharePoint Document Libraries (repositories).


For consumers (personal individual end-users) or small business (SMB) owners, startups, what have you; cloud computing a good thing. For enterprises (large organizations, corporations) it’s also good, but not as important if you understand Microsoft Licensing and volume licensing or enterprise agreements. MS partners and ISVs should have a grasp of MS licensing concepts.


Single, LLC startups should look at getting Home and Business. Enterprises the E1-E4 suites. I’ll try to refine the E-x model later.


Okay, so it’s a suite of applications. So what applications are in that now? Okay, here’s the selling points begin: You get SharePoint Online (business portal), Exchange (email server), Communications Server (now Lync Server?) for instant messaging (IM) and online meetings. Pretty easy sell to someone already into that stuff already and using them on-premise. Even if they’re not using SharePoint or Exchange. There’s some other features included but I won’t get into those yet.





Office Professional 2010 (client machines)


The big sell for me is having both SharePoint Online and Exchange, sometimes referred to as SPO, hosted and outsourced. Because even if Microsoft hosts it and I can’t touch the servers, from an HR/operational perspective you’ve just eliminated the need for 1) two full time administrators (SP/Exchange), 2) server hardware, 3) carbon footprint, and 4) operational costs (reducing TCO**: power, cooling equip., backup, peripherals, cables, upkeep, etc…).


The tough sell is if someone isn’t currently running Exchange or SharePoint. But there’s migration paths out (whitepapers) out there, demos, accelerators, etc… if someone wants to read further.


It’s a subscription based The fees are doled out per month, per user.


So great, I’m sold. Where do I get it now? Partner/VAR (value added reseller) or direct marketing?


Talk to a local or trusted certified (gold, silver, etc…) Microsoft Partner or if you have a Microsoft Store nearby, visit that and ask them. Merchants who are partners may have a partner sticker (branding) in their window, entry, kiosk, billboard, or in their ads in local periodicals (newspapers, yellow pages) or other media (radio/TV/web). You can locate either through Microsoft PinPoint (Bing or Google it). If you don’t want to talk to a partner call 800-MICROSOFT or visit Or, just search or for Office 365 and you’ll get ads, assuming you’re not blocking ads. I recommend if you want to check ads, but that’s just because I haven’t used Google as much lately. I use Bing for the reward points accumulated with every search when I’m logged in with Microsoft Account (Live/Hotmail) or Facebook. Partners should be able to answer the simple (pre-sales) questions without charging for anything. But if they don’t, you can go to another or just contact Microsoft sales over phone or electronically using the information above.


I encourage consumers or small businesses to get in touch with their local MS partner, if available, in their region. Because, it promotes local merchants which in turn helps local commerce. But should always have an entry point like chat to speak to a rep. Just during normal business hours. After hours you may get someone in chat on the Answers desk, they may not know as much.


Where I live, Fargo, it would be either Staples (OfficeMax), Best Buy, and the local “computer place” store(s). Either the guys in software, PC area, or service desk (Geek Squad) should be able to help if you ask about Office 365 and “cloud” services.


What about privacy and CISPA? Yes, there’s concerns and chatter out there in the media regarding new privacy legislation. Me included. But I won’t get into that in this post. I still don’t know enough to comment on CISPA. But Microsoft does have privacy statements at the corporate, subsidiary, and intellectual property level (Office 365 itself) that by reviewing should help you rationalize the benefits versus risks (Pros vs. Cons) of hosting off-premise (off site) by another company (hosting service). In this case, Microsoft is the hosting service. This really goes the same for Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, etc… They all have privacy statements and I haven’t heard anything that these organizations have ever gone against the principles laid out in those statements. Just be on the lookout for the words statement, policy, or terms and read the fine print.


Okay, but what issues are there I need to look out for?


*Setup.exe that installs Microsoft Office (MSI based installs, not Click to Run (C2R***)) is, well yes, an executable, so theoretically it could be perceived as an application because of the user interface to install Office to make it easier for a human being (not automation), but it’s really what some software engineers would just a call a wrapper containing of MSIs that calls (makes a request to Windows to run) the Windows Installer (msiexec.exe) service.

Tags: consumer, advocacy, evangelism, marketing, cloud, subscription, storage


**TCO stands for total cost of ownership. In the context of this article, it’s the costs to host SharePoint on-premise.

***C2R stands for click to run and is the new technology that installs Office. If you buy online, you’re probably getting a click to run (C2R) install. Some sites you purchase from online (MS Store, educational, vol licensing portal) will give you the option to download full MSI (MicroSoft Installer package, *.msi via setup.exe) based install.