What’s Windows® 8 got in store for you? Turns out, a lot.
Windows XP is still going strong, although Windows 7 is slowly taking over after the dismal performance of Windows Vista. Meanwhile, Microsoft is busy working on the next version of their Windows OS that will be given the rather imaginative name of Windows 8 (sarcasm totally free of cost).
Let's take a look at what Microsoft has in store for us in Windows 8.
Less of a resource hog, more of a converged OS
Windows Vista, a bad memory though it may be, laid the groundwork for what has made Windows 7 a success, and Windows 8 is likewise building on technology that Microsoft has already proven.
Except this time, they are taking inspiration from their mobile OS, Windows Phone 7. With Windows 7, Microsoft finally reversed the trend of ensuring that with a new version of Windows, you would need a new computer.
Windows 7 worked on all computers that Windows Vista worked on, often better. Windows 8 goes a step further and can work on the slowest of computers.
Why go that far? Well, because Windows 8 aims to run not only on desktops and laptops, but on tablet computers as well, and tablets are often much less powerful than laptops.
Tablet friendly, or is it?
Running on tablets has brought another big change to Windows. You see, just like desktops and laptops, mobile and tablets also have RAM and a processor, and a place to store files.
However, the components that go into your computer obviously are not suitable for a phone or a tablet. The "architecture" of these devices is different. While desktops and laptops use what is called the "x86" architecture (Intel and AMD processors), tablets and mobiles use the "ARM" architecture.
To work on these small portable devices, Microsoft has had to add support for a whole new architecture (ARM) and a new set of components that make up these portable computers.
A caveat, Windows 8 installed on such a tablet will not be able to run all the programs you are used to unless the creators of that software take the effort to make it work. Such software will still work on Windows 8 on desktops and laptops, of course.
The new Metro interface looks real slick
The biggest changes to Windows in the new OS under development are those that will be noticeable by users. Windows 8 features an entirely new user interface style called Metro – remember, we mentioned how Windows 8 is inspired by Windows Phone 7?
On starting your computer, you are faced with a start screen, which shows live tiles of your applications. Your RSS feed app will be able to show a small tile with the latest stories, an image gallery app could be rolling a slideshow in its tile, and so on.
This is a touch friendly interface that works with the mouse and keyboard as well. This interface will be presented at startup even if you have a desktop computer.
"So hey, what happens to the earlier desktop interface?"
The traditional desktop style of using Windows, with, you know windows and menus and the desktop is still available, but not loaded when you start the comp.
If you launch an old style application, Windows 8 will then load the old desktop format with a taskbar and icons, and everything else.
Even on the traditional desktop, Windows 8 does away with the Start menu, an integral part of Windows since all the way back in 95 when Windows 95 crashed our computers. The Start menu is replaced by the previously mentioned Metro-style start screen.
There isn’t a loss of functionality here though, and some might just find the new style a lot better.
Better support for multiple monitors
On the one hand, Windows 8 is focusing on smaller screens and portable devices.
On the other hand, they now have better support for multiple monitors! Now, one can change individual wallpapers on each monitor instead of picking one for all.
Also, the taskbar now supports multiple monitors and can optionally show only the apps running on the current monitor.
Ribbon interface for Windows Explorer in the offing
In Office 2007, Microsoft introduced the new “Ribbon” interface, and since then they have used it in more of their software. The reaction to the ribbon was mixed, but Microsoft went ahead and added it to Paint and WordPad in Windows 7.
Pretty much no one uses MS Paint or WordPad, so there wasn’t much of a stir, but emotions are set to rise again as Windows 8 will bring the ribbon to Windows Explorer.Â You know that software you use to browse your computer?Â That. With a ribbon.
What more?Â Windows 8 will boot faster, will be more secure, support new ways for storing files, and so much more. Over the next few articles, we will explore some major new features in Windows 8 in greater detail.