I’ve been running Windows 8 for some two weeks now, and there are a lot to like about the new operating system from Microsoft.
Here are the 10 things I like about Windows 8 that you can take advantage of, being using on a computer with or without a touch capable monitor.
1. Live Tiles
Live Tile is the heart and soul of the Windows 8 UI-Style. This interface isn’t foreign to most who are used to tablets and smart phones, but it adds to that.
It is essentially a combination of launch icons and widgets with live updates from the applications, and you can re-size, move, and group them as you like. Hitting the Start button now gets you to the live tiles instead of the old boring Start Menu, which is now a thing of the past.
2. No more Start Menu, Apps listed in full screen and searchable
Wait, did you say no more Start Menu?
That’s right, launching application is in fact quite a lot easier now. Just start typing the name of the application and this will activate the Search function. Applications both in displayed on live tiles and those that aren’t are instantly shown on the screen. A much more efficient way than navigating the old multi-tiered program menu of old.
No more Start – Program Files – Application folder – Application exe
3. Integrated Search Function
The search function is now integrated in one location. The same search box that you use to look for application installed is also the search box you use to search within applications such as Bing, Map, Windows Store, or like the example above – recipes from Allrecipes application (I searched “chicken”).
This is a very neat feature and one that really made sense.
4. Embracing full screen
Most applications for Windows 8 now take advantage of the entire real estate of your computer screen. There is nothing that gets in the way, no maximize/minimize/close buttons, status bar, or even File menu. It is beautiful and actually very usable.
There is a multitasking bar on the left when you swipe from the edge of the screen from the left. This allows easy switching between applications.
Tasks such as closing a running application is achieved by dragging it down to the bottom of the screen, pretty ingenious. This takes a few minutes to get used to, and I find it pretty neat doing it with a mouse or by touch.
5. Running two apps in one screen, with one in “minimal” mode
There are many applications that will run in a smaller mode, one of which is the messaging application (which allows you to connect to MSN chat, facebook chat, etc). Simply drag the application to the side dock it there. You’ll then be able to use the “main” space to run another application, like the browser, or map, or really, anything you like.
Of course, you can still run other applications on the background, and switch them to the front with short cut keys or gestures.
6. Windows Store
Getting applications is now a click away to the Windows Store. All applications in the store are approved by Microsoft to ensure safety (malware/virus free) and certain standards.
Applications are separated into different categories, and they come with ratings, screen shots, and user reviews as well. I remember 10 years ago we used to go to CNET Download to find apps, this is like that, except 100 times better.
7. Background updates and installation of applications
Application installation and updates now runs quietly in the background (though you can bring it up to observe). There won’t be those pesky problems where you can’t install or update one while the other installation procedure is running, and no more going clicking through multiple steps just to get an app on the computer.
This also removes the problem of each application running a background application to check for updates (a problem that bloats up the machine eventually), everything is handled by Windows 8 natively.
8. Local applications
It is also good to see that many local players are now embracing Windows 8 and producing applications specifically for the platform. Some of these are
- The Star – most popular English daily
- iProperty – property search application
- Mydin hypermarket
9. Full compatibility with all traditional Windows Applications
Windows 8 still runs all the “older” Windows applications. Your propriety engineering software? No problem, Photoshop? Lightroom? Chrome? Diablo 3?
All these application will still run just as well as they did on Windows 7. There is still a desktop with background image of your choice and a little clock on the right bottom corner when you run these applications.
In fact, you can even have desktop run as one of the applications with another running in “minimal” mode as described in feature 5.
Windows 8 also comes with Microsoft SkyDrive. The cloud storage space that gives you free 7 GB online storage that you can use to store basically anything. Photos, videos, documents, and more.
The one thing that really sets SkyDrive apart from the competition is the way it works with Office documents. Files created with Office will be synchronized to SkyDrive automatically, you can then open them on your phone, tablets, or even another PC that you signed in with your credential. The same documents can also be shared with other users. In fact, SkyDrive also allows you to open and edit Office documents from a browser as well.
These are just some of the new features of Windows 8, there are many other improvements (such as super fast startup/shutdown and more) on the operating system that I think you should check out.
Those new touch enabled laptops, all-in-one, and hybrid laptop/tablets with Windows 8 are really cool, but even if you’re to upgrade a non-touch enabled computer to Windows 8, you’ll still get to enjoy all the features described above.
By the way, there’re also touch screen AIO (all in one) computers available. (something to ponder about…)
How do I get Windows 8?
Well, for those who bought Windows 7 PC from Jun 2 onwards, they can upgrade to Windows 8 with USD 14.99 (RM49.92). For more logon to www.windowsupgradeoffer.com. Pretty awesome offer if you ask me.
For those who has PC and would like to install or upgrade to Windows 8, they can purchase it at USD39.99 (RM122). For more, logon to windows.my.
Also, do note that these promos last till 31st January 2013 only, otherwise it cost RM885 to get one.