Windows 8, the latest version of the popular operating system, went on sale to the general public on October 26, 2012. To date, more than 60 million licenses have been sold. This new edition offers some distinct differences from previous Windows operating systems. Chief among these is how the new Windows fully embraces and makes use of cloud computing. Another major difference is the new home screen menu.
Windows 8 and the cloud
Windows 8 is the first Windows operating system to embrace cloud computing. Rather than saving documents and files on the computer’s hard drive, Windows 8 users now have the option of storing files virtually by setting up a SkyDrive account (a separate app.) This not only frees up memory, but allows users to access files from other computers and mobile devices.
Windows 8 home screen menu
Windows 8 uses a touch home screen rather than the traditional start menu accessed by a button on the bottom left of the screen. The home screen makes it easy for mobile users to work with Windows 8 as well as those on PCs and laptop computers. The home screen is set up with colored “tiles” that represent different apps and functions. Simply tap on a tile to access that app. (Tiles can also be activated by a keyboard stroke for traditionalists.)
Security and Windows 8
Built into Windows 8 are new antivirus capabilities as well as protection for sharing digital file (to help support the SkyDrive app.) The new operating system also prevents malware from altering the boot process and makes the traditional “blue screen” more friendly to users who aren’t particularly tech savvy. Windows 8 includes a suite of parental control options that allow parents to monitor their children’s computer use and viewing. It even allows parents to print a report of their kids’ recent computer usage.
The Windows app store
Built into the new Window 8 software is a tile from the home screen that takes users directly to the Windows app store, making it easy to purchase Windows apps, like SkyDrive, that are specifically designed to work with Windows 8.
Other new features with Windows 8
Other features exclusive to Windows 8 include an “airplane mode,” which temporarily disables wireless capabilities so not to interfere with the flight navigation systems, but still allows users to work offline and use functions that don’t require a signal, such as camera and music functions. The Windows Media Player included with Windows 8 doesn’t include DVD-playing capabilities as previous versions have, but an app can be purchased to allow users to play DVDs via Windows 8.
Reviews of Windows 8 have been mixed. However, it’s safe to say that Windows 8 is keeping in step with new technology in its easy interface with mobile devices and its cloud capabilities. A new, updated Windows 8–Windows 8.1–is due out in late 2013. It will be interesting to see what the developers add to this new version.
About the Author: Matt Smith
Matt Smith is a Dell employee who writes to help raise awareness on the topic of Windows 8 and other network management subjects.