Silencing Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 quite literally comes with more bells and whistles than any previous version of Microsoft's personal computer operating system.

Personal computers have changed a lot since Windows 7 was released in 2009. Then the desktop still ruled. Since then a whole range of hybrids, touch screens and tablets have emerged on the market and the software required to run them has been modified to make them as functional as possible.

Appointments in Windows 8.1's inbuilt calendar app pop up on the computer screen as they ping their way through your computing day. And Windows 8.1's integration with social media such as Facebook and Twitter mean that you're hardly left a alone as your Facebook friends posts and people you are following on Twitter tweet their way through you day. On tops of that there's the whole array of Windows 8.1 apps that have their own way of interrupting your computing day or night.

All of this is great if you want to be kept abreast of what is happening in the virtual world, all day, every day. But it's enough to drive you barmy if you need peace and quiet to get on with your computing day.

If you'd rather work in silence, without all those whistles and bells distracting you, you can switch off the sounds during certain hours of the day or night by turning on the Quiet Hours function so that only alarm clock and similar Windows 8.1 apps can break the silence. Or you can switch the notification sounds off all together.

To tweak the settings swipe from the right edge of the Windows 8.1 Desktop to the left of the screen to bring up the Windows 8.1 Charms menu on the right hand of the screen. From there click the "Change PC Settings" option and then "Search and Apps" and "Notifications" to the "Quiet Hours".

Alternatively, you can click the Windows button to go the start screen, type quiet hours in the search box and chose the first option "Chose when quiet hours begin and end" which will bring up the quiet hours settings.

Another way to get to the same screen is to type "Quiet Hours" in the Search bar.

From the Notifications and Quiet hours screen it is possible to turn a whole lot of settings on and off.

They are: Show app notifications, Show app notifications on the lock screen, Play notification sounds and Turn on my screen when I get a call and they can all be turned off and back on again from this screen.

The default Quiet Hours setting is on between the hours of 12am and 6am, but you can switch it off all together or change the what time you want it to engage from and run to.

You can also decide whether to receive calls during Quiet Hours.

From the same screen you can decide which apps you'd like to show notifications from.

You can turn notifications on or off in such apps as Alarms, Calendar, Finance, Food & Drink, Games, Internet Explorer, Mail, Music, News, Photos, Reader, Scan, Skype, Sound Recorder, Store and Video.

Next year Windows 8.1 will be replaced by Windows 10 as the default operating system on new personal computers. If the Technical Preview, currently available for download for technical whizzes, is anything to go by all the same bells and whistles will be included and so will the ability to turn them off.