Windows Patterns

What We'll Learn

  1. Explore basic patterns in Microsoft Windows
  2. Navigate between basic Windows screens

Learning Patterns

Using computers becomes much easier once you learn the basic patterns.  Even though the details may be slightly different, these patterns are consistent on any Microsoft computer.

Windows Pattern Overview

The diagram below summarizes the major patterns in Microsoft Windows:


Detailed Overview

Microsoft Windows has several patterns that are available on all computers. Windows 7 and older versions had three basic patterns:

1. The Desktop
  • The standard start screen and homebase for Microsoft computers.
  • Learn about this pattern:
  • Unfortunately, in Windows 8 some of the patterns of the Desktop were broken. We recommend you take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 for a more familiar Windows environment.
2. A Window
  • When you run a program on your computer, it runs in this standard Windows pattern.
  • You can run multiple windows on your screen. Learn more about this pattern in our Common Parts of a Window tutorial.
3. The Login Screen
  • If you have a password on your computer, you will be presented with a login screen when you start your computer.
  • At any time, you can press the <Windows-L> key combination to lock your computer, showing the login screen (or proceeding lock screen in Windows 8 and later).
Microsoft decided to combine their full-screen experience from their tablet and phone environments with the traditional computer environment starting with Windows 8. Although this was very helpful for phone and tablet users to easily migrate to a computer, it made computer users experience significantly more difficult. Windows 8 and above adds two new patterns, and disrupts the familiar Desktop pattern. In Windows 10, the default went back to the classic Desktop patterns, but the new patterns are also accessible. Here are the new patterns:

4. The Start Screen
  • Optimized for touch and tablet environments.
  • Closely tied in with Windows online accounts.
  • Information rich and configurable interface.
  • Click the desktop tile to access the Desktop.
5. The App Window
  • Full-screen experience by default.
  • Moving mouse to the top of screen shows the hidden close button.
  • Right-click to show hidden options.


Practice your familiarity with these patterns as follows:
  1. Identify what pattern you are on at any particular time.
  2. Familiarize yourself with some of the terminology for these patterns.
  3. Know how to navigate back to The Desktop from anywhere