Microsoft’s Building Windows 8 blog has become a source of sneak peeks of what the platform will offer, and the company recently used a prototype tablet to showcase an early version of the OS. Lastly, the Windows Developer Preview, a pre-beta version of Windows 8, can now be downloaded by developers looking to sample where Microsoft’s 2012 release currently stands. The preview is free and can be download in 64- and 32-bit OS-only editions, as well as a 64-bit edition that comes with developer tools.
With Windows 8 being referred to as the biggest jump in innovation since Windows 95, it’s highly likely that many tech fans are anxiously awaiting its official launch. To whet your appetite until that day comes, here is a closer look at what we know Windows 8 will feature once it finally becomes available.
Flexibility could be seen as a Windows 8 strong point, as it will function on traditional x86, x32, and x64 personal computers based on Intel’s and AMD’s ARM processors, as well as ARM-based tablets. This wide range of compatibility marks a first for Windows, and is a much-needed move considering the different types of devices that have recently gained in popularity. The Windows 8 Guide that comes with the Windows Developer Preview reads, “Support for ARM-based chipsets, touch, and sensors makes Windows 8 work beautifully on your choice of a full spectrum of devices, such as 10-inch slates with all-day battery life, ultra-lightweight laptops, and powerful all-in-ones with 27-inch high-definition screens.”
Continuing with the whole notion of flexibility, Windows 8’s “Windows To Go” feature is another highlight that will give users a wider range of functionality than they are probably accustomed to. With a special USB device, users will be able to directly boot Windows 8 to include their specific settings, programs, and files. Windows To Go is set to work on legacy NIOS and UDFI firmware plus USB 2.0 and 3.0. If the user removes the USB device, Windows will freeze, and they will have one minute to re-insert the drive to resume regular operations. Hibernation will not be an option. Microsoft describes the feature as follows: “Windows To Go is a new feature in Windows 8 that enables enterprise administrators to create USB drives containing complete, managed Windows images that users can use to boot and run Windows on any Windows 7 or Windows 8 capable computer. Windows To Go makes it possible for employees to use a managed device whether they work from home, a client office or in a free seating environment.”
As is usually expected with any new OS release, Windows 8 will come with a revamped user interface. It’s said to sport a Metro-style design that is user-friendly, offers extensive control, and presents the user with the most relevant information up front. To roll with the times, the Windows 8 UI will work just as good with a mouse and keyboard setup as it will in a touch-screen environment. Every part of the interface has been enhanced, including the customizable Start screen, Control Panel, Task Manager, and more.
Apps have definitely surged in popularity, and platforms have been competing with one another to offer their consumers the most variety possible. Microsoft is attempting to turn up the heat on rival Apple with the launch of the Windows App Store. It will be similar to the Mac App Store, but with a Microsoft twist, of course. The store will offer users the chance to look over various Windows apps, and it will also function as a publishing hub for developers’ Metro-styled apps.
As far as browsing is concerned, the Windows 8 developer preview was introduced with a Metro version of Internet Explorer 10. The preview version is obviously not a final release, but it does hint as to what we can expect from Microsoft’s proprietary browser. HTML5 will be the browser’s platform of choice, and increased performance is said to come along for the ride. A default full-screen browsing mode is another Internet Explorer 10 highlight to look forward to. Additional web app security options will supposedly be part of the package as well.
With the ever-growing presence of malware and hackers, security is a priority, and Microsoft has addressed the issue with a new and improved Windows Defender. Windows 8’s version of Windows Defender will supposedly supply users with a level of security normally seen with third-party antivirus programs. The integration of real-time detection and protection directly into Windows 8 shows that Microsoft is doing its best to focus on the well-being of its customers.
Luckily for Microsoft fans, 2012 is just around the corner. Although Windows 8’s release is still up in the air, the aforementioned features do provide an idea of what to expect from the software giant’s upcoming OS. With any luck, the release will come sooner than later so users can begin enjoying the new and improved feature set.
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