As Windows 8 comes closer to its release date, there are still several people unsure of whether or not they should upgrade from Windows 7. One of the most frequently asked question regarding Windows 8 is: How is Windows 8 different from Windows 7? Well, here is a list of five new features in Windows 8 that may help you make up your mind.
The most visual change is clearly the new Metro user interface. Microsoft has scrapped the traditional Windows user interface with the start button we have all become so used to. Instead, Microsoft has taken inspiration from its Windows mobile phones to replicate the Metro user interface in a desktop capacity. While the new interface may seem confusing at first, it really doesn’t take long to adjust to it. The new layout is simple; it consists of neatly stacked, live tiles that display information and updates for the application corresponding to each tile. The tiles are fully customizable and can be arranged and resized to the liking of the user.
Despite all the negative feedback the new user interface has received, I feel that the Windows 8 Metro interface will be taken well by Windows users as it provides a good balance between style and simplicity. The interface displays a cleanly organized home screen that will provide a unique and user-friendly desktop experience for both non-tech savvy and experienced users. This should not be a cause for despair for those already accustomed to the Windows 7 desktop layout, as an almost carbon copy of the Windows 7 desktop can be brought up through a single click from the home screen.
New Task Manager
The Windows task manager is one aspect that hasn’t changed much over the years and has been in need of an upgrade. Windows 8 features a redesigned task manager that simplifies the way in which users manage processes and computer performance. The new task manager is designed to provide users with a simple but effective interface that is specifically optimized to deal with common tasks. Through data collected from Windows 7 users, it was found that 85% of users only open up the task manager to kill non-responsive applications and to monitor processes. As such, the new task manager in Windows 8 features a simplified layout that only lists currently running applications. The new task manager doesn’t prompt users to confirm when ending a task and, as such, tasks can be canceled by a single click.
For advanced users, a more in-depth task manager can be opened by clicking on ‘more details.’ This detailed version of the task manager has also been modified to provide a more user-friendly layout; things such as process names and their usage have been simplified to make it easier to monitor the performance of your computer. Over all, the task manager has been nicely improved and been made simpler to use for the not-so tech-savvy users.
The Lock Screen
The Windows 8 lock screen is similar to that of Windows Phone 7 and is optimized for both desktop computers and tablets. The lock screen consists of a few main components including the background picture, battery and network icons, login screen, and a few choice widgets that you can display on the screen to provide real-time updates relevant to the application. The widgets are customizable to only display selective information.
Windows 8 offers a new way of logging in which works by touch gestures; this is known as a picture password login. The picture password is easy to set up through the control panel and allows users to assign any image to the login screen. The next step is to create three gestures on the image and this acts as the password to log in to your computer. Picture passwords are one of the most secure forms of protecting your computer, and Windows 8 has nicely integrated this fine little feature into the lock screen.
New File System
Windows 8 Server will be introducing a new file system known as ReFS (Resilient File System), which replaces the traditional NTFS file system. While this new file system doesn’t currently apply to the main client builds of Windows 8, it is likely that Microsoft will eventually roll out ReFS for all editions of Windows 8. So how is ReFS different from NTFS? Well, it really isn’t all that different from NTFS. In fact, ReFS is built upon NTFS and is developed by utilizing many of its key areas. The primary focus of ReFS is on the resilience of data; this is achieved in part by making the file system simpler. Basically, ReFS is a more reliable and efficient file system that is less prone to crashing and errors. However, when errors do occur, ReFS is designed to detect and repair issues without causing any file corruption. We’ll go into more detail on ReFS and how it works in a separate article.
Windows has always been based on x86 systems and has not had support for ARM-based devices up until now. A lot of work has gone into optimizing Windows 8 for both x86 and ARM processors. Through its support for ARM-based devices, Windows 8 provides a consistent computing experience across devices including tablets, smartphones, and traditional desktop computers.
Will any of these five differences prompt you to make the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 when it finally hits the shelves officially? Or are you content enough with your current operating system to keep it around for a while more? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know your thoughts!
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