In just a few days, Microsoft will release the newest version of its flagship product: the Windows operating system. Named Windows 8, this piece of software promises to completely overhaul the PC computing experience, while adding functionality, security, and efficiency.
Windows 8 has been in development for three years. Earlier this year, Microsoft released the Consumer Preview to registered Microsoft users, which allowed the public to see the direction that the operating system was heading in, and allowed them to give their feedback.
On August 1, it was finalized and shipped to the manufacturing plants to be physically created and packaged for purchase. It releases worldwide on October 26, 2012.
The operating system is optimized for tablets, like the Microsoft Surface which releases this year, as well as the many tablet computers being made by manufacturers like Sony. The layout is more touch-based than previous iterations, and uses large colored tiles in what is called the “Metro Interface.”
The Metro interface is a full-screen management system that allows the user to keep track of running applications, check up on messages, Facebook posts, weather, and new applications to launch. It uses large colorful icons, which are geared towards those using a tablet, especially those not familiar with the technology. Microsoft promises increased usability with the new feature.
Windows 8 is the first Microsoft operating system in almost twenty years not to have the start button on screen, traditionally in the lower-left corner. It remains to be seen how consumers will react to this drastic change.
For those with multiple computers, such as a laptop, desktop, and tablet, the Windows Store has been added as a digital distribution platform which allows users to purchase software that is linked to their account and can be installed on any computer owned by that user. Similar to the Apple App store, it offers a centralized location to download apps that have been verified, which can cut down on security breaches.
For security, Windows 8 is equipped with the new WinRT system, which allows programs to run in a “secure sandbox.” This means that potentially malicious programs will not be able to modify the essential files of the computer, which is how viruses propagate traditionally.
On top of these changes, it comes with a multitude of new features, including Internet Explorer 10 and a host of hardware fixes, including support for USB 3.0, which allows for faster transfer of files.
For those running an older version of Windows, all the way back to XP, Microsoft offers an upgrade for only $40, the cheapest price that they have ever offered on an operating system. However, this is only available as a digital download – the disc will cost another $30.
Windows Phone 8 will launch three days after Windows 8, and will include many of the same features as its big brother on the phone architecture. Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and HTC will all offer phones based on this operating system. Many of the features will be compatible between the two systems, including some Windows Store apps.
Photo used by permission Ceo1O17