This will be the year those anticipating a new Microsoft operating system have been waiting for. Windows 8 is set to arrive some time in 2012, with new functions, a user interface dubbed Metro that takes its cue from tablet computers and a focus on security.
As with the Windows Phone 7 operating system or the XBox 360 console, there are no longer programme icons, but large coloured tiles that also convey live information. Just like with Phone 7, controls have been optimized for touchscreens, although keyboards and mice can still be used.
Also, because of its mobile focus, Windows 8 will run on energy-saving ARM processors, which, until now, have largely been unique to smartphones and tablets.
If you’d already like a look, check out Windows Developer Preview, which has been set up for free online by Microsoft. There you’ll find a fully functional advance version of Windows 8. A beta version, along with its new app store, has been announced for the end of February.
Testers will quickly notice that the new system starts significantly faster than its predecessors. That’s because Windows 8 stores part of its working memory on the hard drive when it powers down. That means, at start up, it only has to read back this information, much faster than loading up every driver.
Microsoft has also cut down on resources required for operations, meaning Windows 8 system requirements are no greater than those for Windows 7.
Controls have been updated for Windows Explorer. There is now a menu bar, which will be familiar to users of Office 2007 or 2010. The goal is to reduce the confusion of submenus and make it easier to access significant commands more quickly.
It’s also possible to pause orders to copy or move files, even if it’s via network transmission. That means copying and transferring can pick up where they left off if the network is lost. That also means the processes can be delayed if bandwidth drops off, if other jobs have a higher priority. The dialogue box for copying also shows significantly more information, like current network capacity.
Windows 8 has also reworked the mini applications that many people recognise from Windows Vista and 7. The so-called widgets now synchronise their data across all Windows 8 devices upon, which the user is registered. The move is designed to make it easier to use programmes purchased at Microsoft’s Marketplace and, thus, to make them more popular.
Windows 8 is also supposed to be significantly more secure than its predecessors. It supports the Secured Boot function of the UEFI system, which is slowly replacing the BIOS system. That, Microsoft hopes, will make it impossible for viruses to nest in the operating system at start-up.
Windows 8 also stores data in a variety of random locations in the working memory at start-up, which is designed to increase protection against attacks on system data and the working memory.
Windows Defender is another new function. The new version can find viruses, not just spyware. And a smartscreen filter for Internet Explorer 10 should make it harder for malware to worm its way into the operating system. The current version on Internet Explorer 9 only shields against Internet attackers, not locally installed programmes.
The encryption programme Bitlocker makes a return, but it runs faster now. It regularly encrypts hard drives and starts with newly overwritten parts of the drive, which speeds up the process.
Microsoft also put some thought into resurrecting data. When restoring data during start-up or when using the installation DVD, it’s possible to more quickly restore the entire operating system or individual files. The function can also return Windows to its factory settings or delete individual files. The redesign should allow even less experienced users to recreate a system or retrieve data.
Keywords: Windows 8 OS