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Windows 8 Overview

Microsoft’s much anticipated Windows 8 is set to launch later this year. But how will it compare to its predecessor Windows 7, which launched three years ago? Take a look at our lowdown on all you need to know about Windows 8.

windows-8-screenshot

Unlike Windows 7, which was brought out as a more focused, rework of Microsoft Vista and an incremental upgrade to the Windows series, Windows 8 has been “re-imagined from the chipset to the user experience”. It features a new user interface based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, designed to better suit touch screen input, alongside traditional mouse and keyboard input. Microsoft developers promise a more “fast and fluid” PC experience and say they have designed Windows 8 “for the billion people who use PCs today, and for the next billion people who will use them in the future.” Our summary of the new user interface is that it is clearly aimed at the tablet PC or iPad user. The riskiest part of Microsoft’s strategy in the way Windows 8 is presented is that they leave themselves open to alienating existing Windows users without winning over tablet PC users.

Here’s our summary of the key Windows 8 features…

Windows 8 will work on tablets and traditional PCs

The operating system’s home screen features big, touchable panels, similar to the live tiles in Windows Phone 7, which you can tap and swipe to other touch-based applications. Underneath the touch screen layer, is a more traditional Windows, with a task bar, file manager, app icons and more.

It will feature a clever touch interface

Users swipe upwards from the start menu to reveal the home screen and its tiles. Swiping from the right-hand side brings up a menu that can take users from an app back to the home screen. Users can multitask between open apps by swiping across from the left-hand side. And when swiping in a new app, users can snap it in place next to the app that’s currently running, allowing the user to view two apps at the same time.

There will be new Windows 8 apps

Microsoft has created a new kind of app for Windows 8 using HTML5 and Javascript, and they’re a lot like the apps you’d expect to find on a tablet. Out of the box, Windows 8 comes with an essential set of applications including Mail, Calendar, People, Maps, Weather, Music and Video players, plus a new release of Internet Explorer – version 10 – which is optimised for touch.

But you will still be able to use existing Windows apps

Although a lot of the early hype and information from Microsoft centres on touch capability and tablet or iPad-like features showing that Microsoft are clearly aiming to win over Apple customers, long time Windows users can be assured that existing Windows apps like Office and Photoshop will still work on Windows 8, although they won’t be optimised for the touch screen.

There will be a host of other improvements

Microsoft claim the software will need rebooting just once a month and that Windows 8 boot times are 70% faster than those of Windows 7. Previous Windows releases suffer from a gradual slowdown unless they are regularly rebooted so a reduced need to reboot coupled with a faster boot time will be very welcome.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 will drive sales

The Windows Phone 8 (WP8) OS is more competitive than its Windows Phone 7.5 predecessor and is likely to drive up Windows’ smartphone market share.

Windows 8 will come in three versions

Windows 8 is set to come in three different versions – Windows 8 (self-titled), Windows Professional, and Windows RT.

Are you looking forward to the launch of Windows 8? What are your views on it? Leave a comment and let us know.

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