Windows Server 2012 provides a new and quite different user experience. If you are an old-timer Windows user, you may experience a little bit of a shock initially. The Start menu is gone. The Desktop is empty, except for a Recycle Bin (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. The Windows Server 2012 Desktop (default).
How do I open the Internet Explorer? How do I populate the Desktop with some familiar and common tools, such as Control Panel and Command Prompt? How do I restart or shutdown the machine?
Well, Windows 2012 requires us to change behaviors and learn new ways of doing things. For example, to browse the web, you hover the mouse near the top-right or bottom-right corners of the screen. After a brief moment, you will see some icons (such as Search, Start and Settings). Click on the Start icon to open the Start screen. Then click on the Internet Explorer icon to open the browser.
Another good example is shutting down or restarting the server. Again, hover your mouse, click on the Settings icon. And you will see some Settings options. Notice a Power icon on the lower half of the Settings screen. Click on the Power icon, and you can then click on either Shout down or Restart.
By now, we have realized that it takes quite a few mouse clicks to perform common tasks as simple as browsing the web or shutting down the machine. Is there a simpler way? You bet. Below I’ll describe some tips and shortcuts, and hopefully, they can save some mouse clicks and help you (and myself) perform common operations more efficiently.
Populating the Desktop with shortcuts
Recall that on Windows Server 2008 or prior, we can create shortcuts for applications and tools on the Desktop. To launch an application or a tool, we only need to double click on its shortcut icon. We can do the same on Windows Server 2012. Below are three examples.
Figure 2. Clicking the folder icon on the Task bar.
Figure 3. Drag and drop the Control Panel icon to create a shortcut.
Figure 4. Creating a shortcut for Internet Explorer.
Figure 5. The Internet Explorer shortcut on the Desktop.
Figure 6. Creating a shortcut for Command Prompt.
Figure 7. The Command Prompt shortcut on the Desktop.
Creating a Restart button
Restarting the server involves a mouse hover and several clicks. It can be done by a single mouse click if we create a Restart button. Here are the steps.
Figure 8. The Shutdown shortcut on the Desktop.
Figure 9. Appending command line option /r.
Figure 10. Changing icon for the Shutdown shortcut.
Figure 11. Adding the Restart button to the Task bar.
Windows Server 2012 offers a new user experience, a lot of opportunities for learning and discovery, and some surprises too. At the same time, it is not too difficult to customize it to your liking.
Thanks for reading.