Friday 23 December 2011

Windows 8: The Features We Know About So Far

The upcoming Windows 8 operating system is an important release for Microsoft for a number of different reasons. While Windows still rules the traditional PC desktop, the future of computing is moving towards a device-agnostic, mobile paradigm where platforms like iOS and Android have the upper hand. Microsoft has to nail Windows 8 to remain relevant, and they're pulling out all the stops to make sure their new touch-capable operating system is a success. Here are some of the main features users can look forward to.

Metro UI

Users of Windows Phone 7 will already be familiar with the panel-based Metro User Interface that Windows 8 relies on. Beginning with the simple and intuitive Windows 8 Start Screen, Metro provides a slick and seamless experience from beginning to end. Those familiar with Windows 7 should be able to make a fairly painless transition to Windows 8's Metro interface. It strips away unnecessary elements and leaves behind only the functionality you actually need. In a nutshell, Metro UI just makes navigating the layout of the operating system much faster and more efficient.

Internet Explorer 10

Microsoft has taken a lot of flack over the years for its Internet Explorer web browser. It hasn't always been the most secure browser, and its lack of adherence to widely accepted web standards has often frustrated developers. Internet Explorer 10 is an entirely different story. It's faster and easier to use, and it adds support for many new HTML5 technologies. More importantly, it's much more secure and stable than past versions of IE. If you have a sub-par web connection, you'll want to look into a faster plan from one of your local Internet service providers to get the most out of IE 10.

Support for ARM Platforms

Intel and AMD x86 CPUs have been the only real options in the desktop world ever since Apple decided to ditch IBM PowerPC chips. Mobile devices, on the other hand, rely on less powerful but far more efficient ARM RISC chips that preserve battery life while providing a decent level of computing performance. Windows 8 is the first major release from Microsoft that supports ARM chips, allowing it to be installed on smart phones and tablets. Thanks to its lower resource consumption, Windows 8 can run on less than 300 MB of RAM.

Microsoft Store

Apple's iTunes Store set the standard by which all other mobile software markets are judged. Microsoft's own app store will allow developers to publish and sell their Windows 8 programs in a fairly open and frictionless environment. While still in development, the early results are promising. Getting the most out of the Microsoft Store will require fast connections from Internet service providers and mobile carriers to make downloading and using applications quick and convenient.

Windows To Go

One of the easiest ways to make a full-fledged operating system more mobile is to make it capable of being booted from a USB drive. Users of Linux distributions like Ubuntu will be familiar with this functionality already, but Windows users will be no doubt appreciate the new feature. Basically, Windows To Go gives users the power to create a self-contained installation of Windows 8 on a Flash drive and take it will them everywhere, bringing their files, programs, and settings with them.

Closing Thoughts

Considering the vast financial resources of Microsoft and Windows 8's solid reviews from critics and developers alike, it seems likely that the new mobile-centric version of Windows will be successful. For Microsoft's sake, it has to be. The Redmond, Washington, technology giant has to make a smooth transition to the mobile world if they want to remain relevant in the coming years. Based on what we've already seen from Windows 8 in its pre-release form, it looks like they're going to succeed.

This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Broadband Expert where you can find internet service providers in your area and compare prices on different deals for your mobile broadband needs.

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