A look at Windows 8

A look at Windows 8

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Windows 8 was announced at Microsoft’s “Build” Professional Developers Conference,which was held this week (14th September) in Anaheim, California. Steven Sinofsky, the president of Windows at Microsoft explained the differences between the previous operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8. He also explained how Windows 8 was the first significant leap from a OS designed for desktops. The new OS has also been the first real challenger the company has presented to Apple’s popular Ipad. The video shown gives a brief overview of the OS and the Samsung tablet that will be given to the 5000 developers who were present on the day. Reviews from these developers canĀ  be expected from Tuesday, the 20th of September.

The new UI of Windows 8 is the “Metro-style” application which looks much like Windows Phone 7 with applications’ “Live Tiles” organized in groups and oriented first toward touch. It still supports a keyboard, including keyboard shortcuts, and a mouse, and includes a virtual onscreen keyboard, too. It natively supports a digitizing pen.

Integration with Windows Live will feature prominently and could be the feature that most worries enterprise IT professionals. When a Windows 8 user logs multiple machines into the same Windows Live account, that user can access all machines remotely, even if each of those machines is parked behind a firewall.

Users will be able to roam all of the settings between machines, including applications, personalization features and taskbar. Developers are encouraged to build apps that use Windows Live Skydrive as if it were a local hard drive. Sinofsky says that this feature is secure because Windows LiveID uses a trusted authenticated connection on both PCs. But it also raises concerns, says analyst Wes Miller, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft. “I like the sync story,” he tweeted. “But it’s REALLY emphasizing Live. Is Windows Live enterprise ready?”

Microsoft showed off many tablet-centric features from its radical redesign of Windows 8 at its BUILD developers’ conference on Thursday, but still promised to support desktop and laptop users who own interact with their computers using traditional keyboards and mice. All the swiping and pinching aside, the BUILD conference gave us a peek at some advantages the upcoming operating system might have for laptop users.

Better Performance, Even on Older/Underpowered Laptops

Windows 8 uses even less memory than does Windows 7. Microsoft illustrated how the first Windows 7 release used about 540 MB of memory, while Windows 8 uses slightly more than half that, or 281 MB. This means you can run Windows 8 on an older netbook (with just 1GB of RAM) and see better performance on your powerful laptop.

The new OS also increases security. The new Reset feature, which restores the PC to factory-fresh condition, helps eliminate one of the biggest issues with laptops–data left on a laptop after it’s sold or donated.

“It all looks great,” said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland-Wash. research firm that specializes in tracking Microsoft’s moves. “If the goal was to get everyone excited, they did that. I was impressed by what they showed, by what they’ve done, but it’s too much to digest. I think I’ll have to watch the keynote [webcast] two or three more times to get it all.” However he still had some questions which he thought had been avoided, “We still don’t know when this will be shipped,” noted Cherry. “And we don’t know how stable Windows 8 is. Remember, these were all demos, and demos are carefully rehearsed.”

Taking a different tack than it did three years ago, Microsoft has made a preview of Windows 8 available to anyone who takes the time to download it. Windows 8 Developer Preview, as Microsoft called the pre-beta build, was posted to a company website shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. The downloads, which range from 2.8GB to 4.8GB in size, come with no restrictions, a company spokeswoman confirmed earlier in the day.