Windows 8 is the current release of the Windows operating system, produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablets, and home theater PCs. Development of Windows 8 started before the release of its predecessor in 2009. Its existence was first announced at CES 2011, and followed by the release of three pre-release versions from September 2011 to May 2012. The operating system was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012, and was released for general availability on October 26, 2012.
Windows 8 introduces significant changes to the operating system’s platform, primarily focused towards improving its experience on mobile devices such as tablets to rival other mobile operating systems (such as Android and iOS), taking advantage of new and emerging technologies (such as USB 3.0, UEFI firmware, near field communications, cloud computing, and the low-power ARM architecture), new security features (such as malware filtering, built-in antivirus software, and support for secure boot, a controversial UEFI feature which requires operating systems to be digitally signed to prevent malware from infecting the boot process), along with other changes and performance improvements.
Windows 8 also introduces a new shell and user interface based off Microsoft’s “Metro” design language, featuring a new Start screen with a grid of dynamically updating tiles to represent applications, a new app platform with an emphasis on touch screen input, the new Windows Store to obtain and purchase applications for the system, and the ability to synchronize programs and settings between multiple devices.
New Features of Windows 8
New features and functionality in Windows 8 include a faster startup through UEFI integration and the new “Hybrid Boot” mode (which hibernates the Windows kernel on shutdown to speed up the subsequent boot), a new lock screen with a clock and notifications, and the ability for enterprise users to create live USB versions of Windows (known as Windows To Go). Windows 8 also adds native support for USB 3.0 devices, which allow for faster data transfers and improved power management with compatible devices, along with support for near field communication to facilitate sharing and communication between devices.
Windows Explorer renamed as File Explorer, File operation dialogs have been updated to provide more detailed statistics, the ability to pause file transfers, and improvements in the ability to manage conflicts when copying files. A new “File History” function allows incremental revisions of files to be backed up to and restored from a secondary storage device, while Storage Spaces allows users to combine different sized hard disks into virtual drives and specify mirroring, parity, or no redundancy on a folder-by-folder basis.
Task Manager has also been redesigned, including a new processes tab with the option to display fewer or more details of running applications and background processes, a heat map using different colors indicating the level of resource usage, network and disk counters, grouping by process type (e.g. applications, background processes and Windows processes), friendly names for processes and a new option which allows to search the web to find information about obscure processes. Additionally, the Blue Screen of Death has been updated with a simpler and modern design with less technical information displayed.
More Safety and Security Features: Additional Security features are introduced, Windows defender, smart Screen filtering and much more options available.
Online services and functionality: Windows 8 provides heavier integration with online services from Microsoft and others. A user can now log in to Windows with a Microsoft account, formally known as a Windows Live ID, which can be used to access services and synchronize applications and settings between devices.
Windows Store and Apps: A music app for Windows 8, shown snapped like a sidebar to the Windows Desktop. Windows 8 introduces a new style of application, Windows Store apps; according to Microsoft developer Jensen Harris, these apps are to be optimized for touch screen environments and have smaller scope in relation to desktop applications. Apps can run either in a full-screen mode, or be docked directly to the side of a screen.
Interface and desktop: Windows 8 introduces significant changes to the operating system’s user interface, many of which are centered towards improving its experience on tablet computers and other touch screen devices.
Secure boot: Windows 8 supports a feature of the UEFI specification known as “Secure boot”, which uses a public-key infrastructure to verify the integrity of the operating system and prevent unauthorized programs such as boot kits from infecting the device.
More information can be availed on Microsoft’s website to Download and upgrade.