Windows 8 Preview: 16 NEW Features We Already Know About!
IT IS TIME to rejoice, FaaDoOs! Microsoft Corp has finally given a sneak-peak into its Windows 8 operating system, which has been awaited with a baited breath for long. Although according to Microsoft the name “Windows 8” is not yet confirmed but it is expected to be Windows 8 as its coming next to Windows 7 and Microsoft’s head Steve Ballmer called it Windows 8 in his speech he recently delivered in Japan. The world’s largest software company is expected to launch the new system in the next 18 months, as it races to catch up with the success of Apple Incs iPad, which went on sale over a year ago.
Microsoft typically aims for 24 to 36 months between major Windows versions, suggesting a launch date for the next Windows between October 2011 and October 2012. The head of Microsofts Windows unit, Steven Sinofsky, said Microsoft is working to integrate Internet telephone service Skype into the new system, following its agreement to purchase it last month.
The demonstration shows Microsoft is making progress towards the new operating system, which it promises will run on a range of hardware devices from traditional PCs to laptops and tablets, using both touchscreen and mouse and keyboard commands.
Windows 8 features explained: What’s new and how it works
1. New Welcome screen
A new ‘Metro UI’ (the user interface for Windows Phone 7 devices) has been integrated in the latest builds of Windows 8. Featuring the date and time, the users are shown a list of users on the local machine to click on and enter their password.
2. ‘Modern’ Task Manager
A new task manager has been developed, redefining how programs and system-critical applications are displayed. Frankly, for task manager veterans, the entire feel of the application has changed entirely. However, it is more in-tune with the look and feel of Windows 8, though devoid of a Ribbon bar — for now, at least. It also includes a more ‘advanced’ task manager for those who still require seeing extensive statistics of their hardware.
3. Portable Workspaces – Windows on a USB Stick!
One of the most highly anticipated features, discovered in an early build of Windows 8 — the portable workspace, allowing you to effectively put Windows on a USB stick. On the other hand, it looks more likely to become an enterprise only feature, and further limited to those with a USB stick or external hard drive that is at least 16GB in size. However, already this could give an early indication of the final hard drive memory footprint of the upcoming operating system.
4. Simple system ‘reset’
This functionality allows a user or system administrator to ‘reset’ the operating system back to the default settings. As so many applications and settings are expected to be cloud based, this would in theory allow you to get back up and running in minutes as opposed to hours. From the screenshots, it appears to be a quick and simple process, with user accounts and personal files kept in backup space, before your default Windows settings are restored.
5. ARM processor ‘tablet support’
Windows 8 will have ARM support, a low-power processor which allows devices to run longer on batteries. As seen during an Internet Explorer 10 preview, one of the devices was running an ARM processor, and it is expected to launch with full ARM support making tablets a more likely option.
6. Improved disk cleanup
In Windows 8, there will be an overhaul of the disk cleanup facility, designed to clear the junk out of your operating system, like temporary files and the Recycle Bin. More options are given, and better categorising of file types corresponding to their size.
7. ‘Modern Reader’ PDF support
‘Modern Reader’ is the name of the PDF reading application designed and built using AppX technology, which bridge between the mobile and the desktop workspace gap. According to one, as the application packages are very similar to phone application packages, making applications easier to port across from the desktop to the mobile, including tablets.
8. Internet Explorer 10
There is all but no doubt that Windows 8 will come with a pre-installed version of Internet Explorer, probably IE10, but may not be set to ‘as default’ depending on your user location. It is not unlike Microsoft to bundle in a beta of Internet Explorer with a beta of Windows, and including the browser with the operating system seems entirely “logical”.
9. Internet Explorer ‘Immersive’
A slimmed down version of the browser, using a new user interface codenamed ‘Immersive’, will feel and look like the phone version, but will have all the rendering of the desktop version. Using a new platform for developing applications that scale up and down from the desktop to the phone and vice versa, it will allow many more applications to be scalable and adaptable to their environments.
10. Windows App Store
Likened to Apple’s App Store for iOS and Mac devices, Microsoft is set to include its own application web store in the next version of Windows. Dubbed the Windows App Store, unsurprisingly, it has yet to turn up in a leaked build, though screenshots seem to confirm its existence.
11. ISO mounting
ISO images are files which contain the exact coding, files and folders of the contents on a CD or DVD. Windows 8 will include functionality, as see in more recent builds, to not only mount images to read and deal with, but also the functionality to burn them. This could negate many image burning applications out there on the market already.
12. Webcam application
A new application seemingly based on the ‘Metro UI’ user experience, has appeared in early builds of Windows 8, allowing users to start and stop video capture, and capture images immediately and after a short delay.
13. Streaming Manager
It has emerged that in a seemingly similar way to how Office 2010 is delivered to some customers, a Streaming Manager will be part of Windows 8 to allow other programs to be streamed to the desktop. It will allow applications to be run before they are fully downloaded, provided they are provisioned to do so. If a feature is needed, it will be downloaded as and when it is needed.
14. Facial recognition login
Those with a Kinect or a webcam may be able to login through facial recognition. A setting was detected in one of the latest builds of Windows 8’s application libraries which suggests that when Windows 8 detects a particular user has sat down at the computer, their face alone will be enough proof to allow the desktop to open up with all their user files and settings. Who needs a password nowadays, anyway?
15. Cloud-based roaming profiles
Roaming profiles have yet been semi-mythical, but have been uncovered in the latest build. Your personalisation settings (Aero and colour settings) all the way through to language settings and wireless credentials will be stored in the cloud, or cloud-accessible, so you can take your ‘computer’ on the go with you. Linked accounts will be accessible through Windows Live, but can be turned off if you are on a bandwidth-restricted network. Whether files and folders will be synced also, should be subject to extreme caution, however.
16. Black Screen of Death!!
In Metro UI style, the ‘traditional’ “Blue Screen of Death” will be replaced by a perhaps more ‘friendly’ “Black Screen of Death”. The error detail will be given still for troubleshooting purposes, but will already occur when the computer has effectively shut down.
The new Windows experience will ultimately be powered by application and device developers around the world — one experience across a tremendous variety of PCs. The user interface and new apps will work with or without a keyboard and mouse on a broad range of screen sizes and pixel densities, from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and even classroom-sized displays.
Let's hope this new version of windows will live up to its promise and Microsoft will deliver us a great product.
Image Credits: ZDNet