Overview of Microsoft Windows 8

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Microsoft Windows 8 Operating System

Windows 8 Desktop ScreenNow that the smoke has cleared from the release of Microsoft Windows 8 (October 26, 2012) I thought I would provide a quick overview and also share my personal thoughts about Microsoft’s newest operating system.

Note: I first wrote about Windows 8 back on February 29, 2012, during the release the Windows 8 CP (Consumer Preview).  You can check out that post for even more Windows 8 info by clicking here: ==> Windows 8 Resources.

Major Features (at a Glance)

Microsoft has recently released their next generation operating system for laptops, desktops and tablets alike, and it’s bringing many new features to all these platforms.

Tiled Start and Touch Screen – In Microsoft Windows 8, one of the biggest changes compared to the old-fashioned, Start-menu -based user interface is the tiled view, which makes browsing around your software and other content very easy especially on touch screen devices.

These tiles are also capable of updating the information contained on the fly, meaning that you’ll get notified of your new email of Facebook comments instantly, without the need to actually open up the application and manually refresh it. Rearranging tiles is very easy, and allows you to both customize the view to your liking, as well as make it faster to access any program that you are a heavy user of.

Tweaks to the OS sub-system – Another new and exciting feature in regards to the Tile system is that instead of one working space, each program runs in it’s own, full screen window. This might take a little awhile to get accustomed to, as it’s a complete overhaul of the way everyone has been taught to use Windows, but due to increased workspace it surely will be welcomed by many. All the programs will be kept running in the background while changing from one program to another, and this jumping between the programs can easily be done by either clicking on touching the right corner of the screen.

Windows Apps Store – Windows operating systems have always lacked some sort of centralized “Marketplace” or “App Store” type of program, that would make it easy for anyone to download new and useful software. But with Windows 8, Microsoft has included an all-new Windows Store, that makes all this a reality. While many of the programs are completely free of charge, those that aren’t are priced for only a few dollars a piece, and purchasing them is very easy from within the Store application.

Easier Installation and Upgrade-ability – Windows 8 comes with an improved installer called “the Upgrade Assistant”. It’s designed to provide a simpler and faster process for installing and upgrading to Windows 8 from previous versions.  Although you should go for a fresh install instead of a simple upgrade, as having many years worth of personal files and programs can cause some issues with operating system upgrades.

Note: You can get full details of all of the features in Windows 8 by visiting Wikipedia’s Windows 8 Page.  Also worth reading is an article by Michael Poh, called : “5 Top Windows 8 Features You Will Love“. Michael is a freelance blogger and regular contributor for Hongkiat.com.

Microsoft Windows 8 Counterpoint (My Thoughts)

when I first saw windows 8, it was clear to me that it wasn’t (in my opinion) really designed for the desktop. But it appeared to me, at first glance, that Microsoft had something else in mind. I got the sense that Windows 8 running on a desktop was merely an after thought. It’s clear that Microsoft was definitely looking to get in on the tablet market. That would explain why there are really two flavors of this OS, the base desktop version and Windows 8 RT.  Windows RT (codenamed Windows on ARM) is a special Microsoft Windows operating system designed to run on mobile devices utilizing the ARM architecture, such as tablets. This has also caused some confusion in the market.

The debut of Microsoft’s “Surface Tablet” tells me that I was right about what Windows 8 was truly meant to do, which was give Microsoft a segue into the thriving tablet PC market.  Not a bad idea, but a little late to the party if they are trying to catchup with the Apple iPad and the Android manufacturers, such as Asus, makers of the Asus Transformer.

From a desktop perspective, I’m not sure Windows 8 offers anything that I don’t already have or can’t already get with Windows 7.  Maybe the tweaks to the OS sub-system may offer some advantages, but not enough at this time to justify me upgrading to Windows 8.

Bottom Line… I think that in a sea of operating systems, Windows 8 is struggling to find its identity; not really a desktop operating system and has not yet proven itself in the tablet operating system world. Right now there are already several great tablets that are on the market and the Microsoft Surface tablet is hardly the best of them.

Just my thoughts… Your thoughts?

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