Mastering Windows 8.1 with the Digital Workshop Techsperts

Mastering Windows 8.1 with the Digital Workshop Techsperts

Some of the most popular enrichment activities aboard Holland America Line ships are the Digital Workshops powered by Windows classes.

In these complimentary lessons, Microsoft-trained “techsperts” teach guests with varying levels of computer and camera experience everything from making movies to creating an online scrapbook with cruise photos.

Windows recently released an update to Windows 8.1, and the Holland America Line techsperts are ready and trained to teach guests all about it. Maasdam techspert Abrie Venter posted this to the Holland America Line Digital Workshop blog.

Windows 8.1 Update is largely a collection of tweaks to the interface, rather than the type of feature improvements we saw with Windows 8.1 last year. A new title bar will be displayed at the top of Windows 8-style apps with the latest update, making it possible to close these apps with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft has also tweaked the hot corners that typically appear for the Charms and quick app switching in the desktop, adding a delay so they don’t pop up unexpectedly when you go to close a desktop app or navigate backwards in a browser.

Your Desktop taskbar with your Start Screen apps.

Changes and tweaks have also been extended to the taskbar, where Start Screen apps can now be pinned and accessed directly from your Desktop taskbar. The Windows Store app will be pinned by default, a change designed so that desktop users will still be able to discover new apps. This change makes it definitely much simpler for the desktop users to use all the apps on Windows 8.1 on your desktop.

Right Click Drop Down Commands.

A real nice change also came for mouse users with the right click in the Start Screen. When you use right click on an App tile in the Start Screen you get a drop down menu with commands and not the command bar at the bottom of the screen, which makes it easier and faster for mouse users to access commands.


Start Screen Power and Search Buttons

Other tweaks and changes include a new shutdown and Search button the Start Screen. “The number one question I get on the ship is ‘I don’t know how to shutdown my machine is there an easier way to do so?’. The new shutdown button only appears on desktop PCs and laptops (similar to boot-to-desktop) and you won’t see it at all on your tablet devices. The search option will appear on every machine, but you can still use the easy search by just typing in the start screen. Microsoft has also tweaked the way new apps are installed on your device, with a notification on the Start Screen for each new app that’s installed from the Windows Store. — Maasdam Techspert Abrie

Eurodam’s techspert John B. also had some tips to share on the Digital Workshop blog. John wants to get you using Window’s latest updates quicker by learning how to avoid the Windows 8 lock screen and logging in automatically.

By default, when your Windows 8 computer goes to sleep and then wakes up, it will display the lock screen. This is similar to the lock screen on most smart phones that appears each time you turn the screen on. You see a nice graphic and perhaps info such as the number of new email messages and upcoming calendar events. On a tablet or phone, it sort of makes sense; on a desktop or laptop, maybe not so much. If your computer doesn’t have touch-screen support, click the mouse or tap a key to “raise” the lock screen. Then you see the log-in screen where you enter your password.

If you’d prefer not to encounter these screens before you get to your desktop, you can disable the display of the lock screen with a simple change to the local Group Policy.

Be sure you’re logged on as an Administrator and do the following:

  • To open the Group Policy Editor, press Win+R and enter gpedit.msc.
  • At the Group Policy Editor console, in the left console tree pane, navigate to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Control Panel/Personalization as shown here:


In details pane on the right, double click the setting labeled Do not display the lock screen.
Click the Enabled option, then click OK.
Now, you’ll go straight to the log-in screen without seeing the lock screen.

If you are the only user on this computer, you can even bypass the log-in screen if you wish. However, be aware that access to your computer will not be as secure as before.

  • Log in as an Administrator. Press Win+R and enter netplwiz.
  • In the center section of the User Accounts window, select your User Name, the one that is an Administrator.
  • Uncheck the box at the top and click OK.
  • You will then be asked for the password. After entering it twice, click OK again and you’re done.


Now, when you wake or boot your computer, you can get busy right away. — Eurodam Techspert John

Have you taken a Digital Workshop class onboard? What did you learn? Tell us below!

Holland America Line is a proud partner of Microsoft on the Digital Workshops powered by Windows program.


Join the Discussion


  1. Laura Sklar June 11, 2014 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I’m the only user on my laptop, thank you. I wish I had taken classes on board, anyway I’m working on it.
    Thank you Holland♡.

  2. Pam Drane June 12, 2014 at 7:19 am - Reply

    I have tried many times on several cruises to sit in on these classes, successfully only 3-4times.
    The few classes I did attend were very instructive and I thoroughly enjoyed them. But there must be a better way to ensure all interested parties have a chance to attend. Some passengers attend repeated classes several times, not giving others a chance. I do not take our treasured annul cruise to spend valuable time in long line-ups.
    I do value the e:mails on this subject and save them for reference.

  3. Clifford Revoir August 9, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I very much enjoy attending the digital workshops when on board. I have now moved to Windows 8.1 and can not find my handouts. I recall that they contained a link to where I could get copies online. Could you please send me the link.
    Thank you for all your great classes.
    Have a blessed day.
    Cliff Revoir

  4. Scott Speer March 27, 2015 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    First I want to thank Frank (Noordam) and Tony (Statendam) for some really enjoyable times in the Digital Workshops. To the people who comment about there being not enough room, My advise is to come on in even if there is not a computer. Several of the classes do not require the use of a computer. Yes I attended he same class multiple times because each time I learned some thing new or reinforced precious subject matter. However I would always move to an empty chair if all of the computers were in use.

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