At the same time, a black rectangle appears toward the lower-left portion of the screen, displaying the time and date and, if you're using a portable device, the state of your Internet connection and power supply.
You can also display the full Charms bar by pressing the Windows key + C on your keyboard -- or, if you have a touch-screen device, by swiping from the right edge of the screen toward the center.
You can get to the Charms bar no matter where you are in Windows 8 -- on the Start screen, on the Desktop, in a Windows 8 app, and even in a Desktop app. This feature is one of the ways in which Microsoft has attempted to bolt together the Start screen and the Desktop.
There are five charms on the Charms bar. Several of them are context-sensitive and offer slightly different options depending on what you're doing at the time you invoke the bar. Here's a brief description of what each charm does.
Search. Click this and you can search for apps, files and settings; you can also search inside any app. Underneath the search box is a list that includes Apps, Settings, Files and each of your individual Windows 8 apps. When you type in a search term, click anything in the list to search it. So to search for an app, you'd click Apps, and to search inside an individual app, click the name of that app -- for example, to search your email, click Mail.
Windows 8 supports three keyboard shortcuts that take you directly to the Search charm without going through the Charms bar first: Pressing the Windows key + F takes you to Search with Files already highlighted, the Windows key + Q takes you to Search with Apps selected, and the Windows key + W takes you to Search with Settings selected.
Because the Desktop no longer includes a Start button, you'll frequently use the Search charm to run apps from the Desktop. It's kludgy -- press the Windows key + Q to launch the Search charm, type the first few letters of the app's name and click the icon of the app you want to run.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.