Windows 8 New Features

Although Windows 8 is still in production, the Developer Preview is available for testing and evaluation to anyone who wants to download it. While the operating system is not yet complete and, as of yet, unsupported, many enthusiasts are trying it out already. If you plan to install Windows 8, it’s a good idea to install it on a separate hard disk or partition alongside your Windows 7 installation. Running Windows 8 as your primary operating system is not recommended since there are likely to be some problems. Following is an overview of some of the most significant changes that people can expect with Microsoft’s next operating system.

1 – New “Metro” Interface

Windows 95 saw the complete overhaul of the Windows interface with the introduction of the taskbar and start menu. While this interface has seen numerous improvements over the years, Windows 8 will introduce a complete change in the form of the Metro-style interface. The new style is largely based on the Windows Phone 7 operating system used on some high-end smartphones.

The taskbar and start menu will still be available in Windows 8, although the latter is disabled by default. Instead, the Metro interface is intended to completely replace the start menu. The new interface, also known as the “Start Screen” provides tiles linking to applications, websites, RSS feeds and Windows components. Programs designed for the new interface run in full-screen, providing a fully interactive and enhanced experience. Applications designed for earlier versions of Windows will continue to run on the desktop, just as they do in Windows 7.

Many new programs are designed for working with the Metro interface, such as the latest edition of Internet Explorer provided with Windows 8.

2 – Better Multiple Monitor Support

The new taskbar in Windows 8 is designed to span multiple monitors. Enabling this feature in earlier versions of Windows required a third-party utility. If you have multiple monitors connected, the multi-monitor taskbar feature can easily be turned on or off.

Windows 8 also makes it easy to have different desktop backgrounds for each monitor. This was also possible in Windows 7, but only with the use of third-party software. You can also have one desktop wallpaper spanning across multiple monitors.

3 – Changes to Windows Explorer

The most significant change to the Windows Explorer is the new ribbon-interface which was introduced in newer versions of Microsoft Office and in some of the components of Windows 7, such as the Paint utility.

Windows Explorer also includes some tweaks designed for optimizing the way it appears on widescreen monitors. This is a very welcome change since virtually all new monitors and laptops have widescreens.

Windows Explorer will also provide better support for ISO and IMG image files and you’ll be able to mount them as virtual drives without having to install third-party software. VHD (virtual hard disk) files can also be mounted with just a few clicks. In Windows 7, this is only possible by using the Disk Management utility which is relatively complicated for less experienced users.

4 – Changes to the Task Manager

The Windows Task Manager has improved with each version of Windows, but Windows 8 completely overhauls it. The simplified task manager provides everything that most users need. It displays a list of running programs and all tabs are hidden unless you open the advanced view.

Enthusiasts will find the advanced view of the new task manager extremely useful. It provides detailed performance information including the amount of system resources in use by each program. It is provided in a graphical and user-friendly format far ahead of what is available in Windows 7. Additionally, there’s also a startup tab allowing you to see which programs are set to start up automatically when you log in to Windows.

5 – Other Changes

Windows 8 provides a whole host of other, smaller changes. Although the following list is far from complete, here are some of the most significant of them:

– The ability to change the logon screen background without having to download third-party software.
– A completely new set of Windows games.
– A picture password utility which allows you to draw an image instead of entering a password.
– Native support for USB 3.0 devices.
– Much faster boot times.
– Integration with Windows Live ID. This means that you can link your Hotmail (Windows Live) account with your local user account. You’ll be able to retain your settings on any other computer running Windows 8, and you’ll be able to enjoy quicker and easier access to Windows Live ID features such as instant messaging and emailing.
– New Metro-style control panel. Although the classic-style control panel remains for dealing with less frequently used settings, the new Metro-style control panel provides easy access to the most commonly used features

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