Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eight Pretty Cool Things About Windows 8
Microsoft released a Consumer Preview of the highly anticipated Windows 8 at the end of February. This is an operating system in transition as it moves from the desktop to mobile devices as well as a transition to the new Metro UI. So far, the reviews are mixed. We’ve seen many complaints about the missing “Start” button in Win 8 desktop mode as well as less than ideal search ability from the desktop. In any case we thought it would be useful to highlight some of the cooler features that will be in the new OS and may help prevent reviewers from calling this another Windows Vista OS.
Lock Screen Alerts
Taking a page out of the smartphone playbook, Windows 8 will display useful information right away, without you having to do anything at all. That's because your lock screen can now be customized with apps which show you details on waiting emails, your schedule, RSS feeds - really whatever you like. This means that you won't have to turn on your computer, wait for it to load, and then wait to load an application to find out a small, basic piece of information.
Password Options
Everyone already has more than enough passwords to remember, so Windows 8 will offer an unusual alternative: the picture password. You'll be able to point Windows to a picture you'd like to use, which you then click, tap or draw on with your mouse, or using your finger on a touch screen. For example, say you choose a picture of your family - you might draw an outline around the tree in the background, then tap on your wife and then your daughter. Windows will remember this pattern and won't allow anyone to log in later unless they can repeat them.
But if that sounds ridiculous to you, no worries, you can continue to log in with a regular alphanumeric password if you prefer.
Better App Management
Traditionally Windows has left it up to you to manage the programs you run. So you can launch as many as you like, and the system won't interfere; it'll just get slower, and slower, and slower as you run out of RAM. Windows 8 is a bit different when running Metro apps. If you're running short of resources then it'll close down anything you've not used for a while, in an attempt to help out. The apps that get closed will be saved first however, so you don't lose anything: relaunch it to carry on exactly where you left off.
One-Click Sharing
Sharing something you've found online is an everyday experience for most web users, and so it's great to see Microsoft build that idea into Windows 8. If you've discovered a great photo or web page in Internet Explorer then simply hit the Share button and you'll be able to send its link via any compatible app you've installed - and they'll then update your Twitter, Facebook or other account right away.
Compatibility with Xbox, Windows Phone, Tablets
Perhaps the biggest difference between Windows 8 and its predecessors is that this OS is designed to work on not just laptops and desktops, but on tablets and mobile phones as well. Microsoft is introducing the Metro interface it popularized with Windows Phone into Windows 8. Users can access the Metro view or the familiar desktop view with a simple click or tap. The result is that Windows 8 will work on almost any device out there. It works with keyboards and touchscreens, and it doesn’t matter if a device has an Intel, AMD or ARM processor. This makes Windows 8 an extremely versatile OS in a world where mobile is beginning to dominate.
Easy Backup
Windows 8 includes a remarkably user friendly File History feature, which can automatically back up whatever folders you like, at the frequency that you specify. This could be a complete system backup to a network drive, or it could just save key folders to a flash drive. Once you've set up this feature there is nothing further required of you - plug in the drive whenever you want, File History will automatically detect it, and your preferred files will automatically be backed up.
Increased Download Protection
Internet Explorer's SmartScreen filter is a clever feature which can check downloads against a database of known malicious sites and dangerous programs, blocking the file if it finds a match. Previously this was only available within IE, but in Windows 8 SmartScreen will be used system-wide, so you'll have an extra layer of protection no matter which browser you're using.
Windows App Store
Windows 8 will have an app store. Yes, they are a bit late to the party, but it's better than not showing up at all. The inclusion of a Windows Store provides new business opportunities for developers. And keep in mind that Windows 8 will run on all devices, which gives the new developers a bit of a running start.

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