Windows 8: What You Need to Know

Following on from the success of Windows 7 was always going to be a big task for Microsoft; thankfully, if the previews of Windows 8 are anything to go by, the world’s biggest operating system provider has risen to the challenge.

Window 8 is nothing really like the operating systems we have to come know from Windows over the past 25 years and is being hailed as the future of computing – an OS centred on touch screens.

Touch-based interface

The departure from the original Microsoft style of operating system to a new touch-based interface has been done to allow Windows 8 to work as smoothly on tablets as it does on PCs. But you shouldn’t worry about having to throw away your desktop or laptop for investment in a touch screen PC; Windows 8 will work just as well with the traditional mouse and keyboard. Microsoft has designed their new OS to suit a persons need at the specific moment in time, allowing users to switch between new Metro face and the classic Windows desktop as you require. This can be done on any device. The touch interface works brilliantly and users are able to customise their home screen with a range of colourful tiles. From the start menu, users are able to swipe upwards to reveal the tiles. Anyone that has used Windows Phone 7 will be very familiar with this concept and will be used to seeing the information tiles such as the time/date and the weather. Many tiles contain information, such as the email tile telling you how many unread messages you have, and the calendar displaying your upcoming events. The whole thing makes you feel at one with your computer.

Features

Windows 8 is pretty feature-heavy but does not shun traditional programs such as Office and Photoshop, which will still work in a traditional way but can be operated alongside new apps on the OS. Some of the notable features of Windows 8 include:

· New lock screen – Nothing really unexpected here, but a beautiful customisable picture and a handful of useful widgets make the lock screen spectacular. After swiping the lock screen, you are take advantage of the new “picture password” feature; using invisible gestures on a picture to get into Windows

· Windows Store – The app store looks very similar to the home screen with tile-based categories and lets you browse through, and download apps, both touchscreen and traditional. Many of the apps are free too!

· Cloud storage – Windows 8 embraces the new cloud computing era by letting you use your Microsoft account to sync all of your data. Photos, address book, SkyDrive data, and even files from third party apps can be synced to the cloud and accessed on any Windows 8 device.

· Task manager – Microsoft has finally decided to redesign the task manager in Windows 8, and it looks great. There are basic and advanced manger options for users to get their teeth into.

· Refresh your PC – This cool feature lets you carry out a clean install at the touch of a button. You can also set refresh points to refresh your computer back to how it was at a specific time.

With its release due imminently, Windows 8 looks sure to keep Microsoft at the top of the OS market for a few years to come.