Microsoft’s freshly released Windows 8 Consumer Preview is making the rounds on people’s computers, with reviews pouring in everywhere on the Web, and opinions ranging from exhilarating to abysmally disappointed. Windows 8 brings a lot of new things to the table, and while some of them may be bad, a lot of the stuff is really good. It’s not only Microsoft’s first attempt at a tablet OS, but also a unified tablet/desktop OS that works on both x86 and ARM processors – something that sounds nearly impossible to achieve.
But by the looks of it, the company has actually succeeded or is at least on the right path. Let’s take a look at the best things that Windows 8 brings for its users:
A New Interface. Windows 8’s most prominent new feature is the Metro user interface, which has replaced the traditional desktop + Start Menu combination. The overall look and feel is very similar to that of Windows Phone 7, although it’s been designed for bigger displays. This Metro UI has its own apps and API, which is pretty interesting – it allows it to consume a minimal amount of resources while working alongside the normal desktop on x86 devices, and it also works perfectly on ARM tablets – it’s impressive how Microsoft managed to make it work.
Many Performance Improvements. While Metro is hogging all of the attention from the general public, Windows 8 actually has a lot of minor improvements under the hood that make it better, faster and sleeker. The performance of Windows 8 will be even higher than Windows 7, which is a remarkable achievement. Two of the best examples are the new processor affinity manager that will increase performance on multicore processors by loading each core to 100% before switching to the next one, as opposed to the old manager that always shuffles a thread around to even the load on cores. The second example is the fact that most of the services are now set to delayed or manual start, which will significantly decrease boot time.
Better Copy/Move Handling. Copy/move operations have been improved in Windows 7 compared to previous versions of the OS, but Windows 8 will make them even better. Now, they won’t be completely interrupted if a file can’t be moved or if there’s already a file with the same name in the destination folder – instead, the OS will notify you of that and let you choose what to do while continuing the operation with the other files. You can also pause an operation if you have multiple ones running and need some files copied faster. The time estimation is better, and there’s a more advanced graph showing the speed, as well.
Storage Spaces. Storage Spaces is definitely one of the most interesting additions to Windows 8 – it can significantly improve the way you work with various storage devices, letting you create partitions and virtual disks across multiple drives (internal and external) and setting up mirroring or striping on multiple drives for data redundancy or operation speed – think of it as an improved RAID technology.
Ribbon in Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer also got a makeover, with Microsoft’s Ribbon interface being added to it, along with other minor changes. The Ribbon is pretty good for quick operations that would’ve otherwise taken several clicks to do, but you can hide it if you don’t want it.
The above things are some of the most prominent features that Windows 8 has to offer, but they’re by far not the only ones – the OS has a lot more to offer. Microsoft says that Windows 8 will start shipping sometime this fall, but judging by the release dates for various Windows tablets, the final version may actually be released sooner, just like it happened with Windows 7.
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