The next version of the world’s most popular operating system promises to be one of its kind in its history. Discover here all that you can expect in Windows 8: new features, new ways of using Windows …
Windows 8 ?
The future operating system from Microsoft, as Windows 7 before its final release,was known by many code names: Chidori Windows or Windows Midori. However in the case Windows 8 it is highly likely that this will be the final name. During the CES in Las Vegas, which took place in January 2012, the release schedule of Windows 8 was introduced, with the key information being the release of Beta 1 in late February 2012.
- Around January 21, 2012: Release of pre-beta.
- January 23, 2012: Beta Escrow.
- 23 to 28 January 2012: the version most suitable to be presented to the public will be selected (among multiple versions tested by developers).
- January 30, 2012: presentation of the beta.
- February 29: release of a beta (Consumer Preview) for free download at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.
The calendar also suggests a final release of Windows 8 for next summer.
A new interface
Windows 8 would be the biggest change of OS since Windows 95 (the first Operating System to accommodate this companion who stayed with us for over 16 years: the start menu). Indeed, gone are the days where you would normally find your start menu button to the left of the screen. This will not be replaced with a start screen, known as the Metro interface. The start screen will have icons called tiles, which like the start menu will give access to different applications.
During the CES we saw that the background color of the metro interface can be modified but an image cannot be added as wallpaper,which in any case would be useless as all the tiles would be using much of the screen space.
New applications will be adapted to meet the requirements of this new interface: Metro applications. Internet Explorer 10 is already known to be one of them-which has been integrated to the Developer Preview, these applications are displayed in full screen and only work on the Metro “side”
On the office side by contrast, it’s a “rest” of the old Windows: taskbar, icons, Windows Sidebar gadgets, windows, aero peek, aero Sake and aero Snap.
Howevcr the Start menu is absent, replaced by a button bearing the same logo which allows users to switch back to the Metro side if you click on it, or to access features such as sound, light, shut down, sleep, share, display time, etc.. by pointing with the mouse.
With its Metro interface, Windows 8 promises to work well on tablets. It will be the first OS from the firm Redmond to support the ARM architecture, which is a platform currently being used only on touch pads and mobile phones. It should also be pointed out that Metro applications work equally well in portrait and landscape.
In addition to its new interface that will allow Windows to be used in a new way, many features have been added and while others have been improved.
Supports USB 3.0
10 times faster than USB 2.0, USB 3.0 is considered to be having a brilliant future ahead according to Microsoft which has invested massively on this protocol.
Indeed, according to statistics of June 2011, by 2015, all new computers will be equipped with USB 3.0 ports.
For example, you can copy a high definition movie from a USB 3.0 storage device in 80 seconds instead of 15 minutes needed with USB 2.0.
Figure: Statistics, June 2011(source)
Improvement of basic operations
Copy, paste, rename, delete … these things that you do sometimes reflexively actually represent 50% of all commands used. But even if in most cases, these tasks do not last more than 10 seconds, they can at times also last for several long minutes, because Windows Explorer is not optimized to perform tasks which are too large or to do multiple copies simultaneously. With Windows 8 these operations will become clearer:
- The task of making copies which previously had their own windows will now be regrouped into one single window. You can pause / resume an ongoing operation. You will also be able to change the progress bar indicating the status of the copy graphs showing the speed of data transfer.
- Management of two copies, one of which is paused (second window)
- Management of three copies in graphic display
- Improved solutions to cases whereby file names have the same name.These problems are even more annoying when managing multiple copies where multiple files are of the same name. Dialog boxes will be presented otherwise and Windows will ask you to check the files you want to keep between source files and the files in the target.
- New dialog box for conflict resolution:
- One last change involves the removal of the dialog boxes “Do you really want to place this file in the trash” or “Do you really want to merge these files” to create a cleaner and less disruptive environment.
One of the major changes in Windows Explorer will, of course be the appearance of the Ribbon. As you may recall the latter happened with the introduction of Microsoft Office 2007. It allowed you to have faster and easier access to features thereby leading to a better organization. This is exactly what will happen with Windows 8: some commands which were previously accessible through context menus are now displayed in the Ribbon.
- Windows Explorer in Windows 8:
There will also be other minor changes: For example the information pane will be moved to the right. In fact, the screen resolutions the most commonly used currently are in 16/9, so it allows for a better management of the available screen size.
- The information pane in Windows Explorer:
Obviously, one cannot talk about Ribbon without mentioning fast access to the Toolbar which is located either above or below the Ribbon. As in Office, you can add commands such as Undo, redo … which was available with a right click before.
Windows 8 brings a breakthrough in terms of startup. Now your computer will be ready for use about 10 seconds after pressing the start button as opposed to the 25-30 seconds required by Windows 7.
Until now, when you pressed the power button, the PC had to startup the drivers necessary to boot the OS kernel, followed by Windows initializing the system (loading additional drivers, services) and the Session 0. Finally there was the start and it’s only after that which you could use your computer.
With Windows 8, whenever you shut down the operating system will close the different sessions, programs and services, but will record the session 0 on the hard disk.
It’s like when you switch your computer into hibernation: Windows saves the memory state (sessions, programs and services open) on the hard drive, then turns off the PC. But Windows 8 will only record the state of the session 0, which will take less time, so when you start it, it will first restore the state of the session 0 in memory and then launch the additional pilot followed by the startup screen.
To summarize, Session 0 of Windows 8 will always be “open” even when you shut down the PC.
- Different phases between a conventional start and Windows 8 quick start
Improvements in task manager
It is a lightened and clarified task manager which will be introduced in Windows 8. It will represent only leading applications in a simplified manner where the only option available will be ‘end task’
To view the background process and additional options, simply click on “details”. All open windows grouped by application with then open up.
You will also notice a newer and nicer look to the task manager which will make it easier for anyone to use. It has often been seen that the use of the task manager is not an operation frequently performed by novices.
- View the task manager of Windows 8 with less detail:
- The same by clicking on “details”:
In this presentation, we can see what is called the “heat map” which gives information on the right indicating the use of resources and it becomes darker as you gradually increase the use of important resources.
This function also imparts some problem solving features.
- Here Microsoft Outlook uses 94.2 of CPU resources:
Another important development is the emergence of more friendly names on the list of processes. Earlier if you had to look for a particular process, you needed to search for a complicated name which did not have much significance along with the extension *. exe
With Windows 8, the Task Manager replaces the names of the executable by the real name of the process and hence the executable Splwow64.exe will now appear as “Print driver for host applications.”
Supports disk and sectors of large sizes
High resolution photos, HD movies, music collections … our range of digital media continues to grow and improve. Designers of hard disks are creating materials which are more and more sophisticated and rapid in order to cater for the needs of customers. Faced with the emergence of more and more of these large capacity drives, Microsoft has built into Windows 8 the possibility to take over the charge of 3 TB hard drives (tetra bytes) or more.
Another great innovation of the next Microsoft operating system: it will host an online download store called “Windows Store.” The latter was presented on December 7, 2011. Windows Store in particular, encourages application developers to get used to Metro applications.
Passwords and protection of user data
Windows 8 also brings new functionality in terms of protecting user accounts. You will have the opportunity to create a Windows account with your Windows Live ID, which will be able to recover your lost password by making a recovery password on Hotmail through another PC.
In addition to the traditional password login, Windows 8 will bring two new ways to connect:
- Connecting through a Pin Code which will be a four-digit code that you only have to type without pressing Enter, and you can open your session quickly. Given the fact that this move is not very safe for your data, the maintenance facility of Windows 8 will advise you to use it only in safe places.
- The image password, a very original way to connect, especially useful for the touch pads.
- Simply choose an image in your data, and indicate three actions to reproduce this image: you can draw lines, circle and point to parts of the image.
- Then, at the opening screen, you will have to replicate the same movements. You will not be required to be pixel-accurate.
It is important to note that you can use all three ways to connect (password, PIN and password image).
You can choose how to connect at reboot, provided you set this in the Control Panel of the Metro interface.
Advanced Boot Options
The other interface which will change with Windows 8 is the advanced boot options, accessed by pressing F8 at startup or when it is in dual boot mode.
The black and white page which existed previously has been removed and replaced by a more pleasant interface bearing a blue-sky color. You can also use your mouse and icons here thereby making it more presentable and easier to use.
The main reason for this change is that these advanced startup options are available AFTER the Windows startup, and thus the restoration in memory of the session 0; the main drivers are therefore loaded.
- Below are the advanced startup options for Windows Vista (top) and Windows 8 (bottom):
Recall that with Windows 7 or earlier, to access these options, you had to press the F8 key during the BIOS initialization and the options would appear. No mouse, only the arrow keys, started after Windows.
For Windows 8 it will be different.You will have to press the F8 key during Windows startup (with the Developer Preview it is when the “Windows Developer Preview” is displayed with the small balls animation rotating around).
A message appears: “Prepare advanced boot options.”
When Windows is loaded you will have access to options using your mouse and graphical interface.
The only downside is that if you want to start on an earlier operating system, Windows 8 will have to stop and restart the PC, which will take much longer.
Meet one of our old acquaintances which has been revamped for the release of Window 8. I speak of course of the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) .
Windows 8 will probably be a break-through in the history of Windows while Windows 7 is being adapted to support touch technology, Windows 8 will have its own interface for tablets, and a new army of features. Windows 8 promises to be a great success this summer, lowering Windows XP even further.
I strongly urge you to try Windows Developer Preview while awaiting for the beta version.