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Monday, May 21, 2012

WINDOWS 8 FEATURES AND CONSUMER PREVIEW.

   For millions around the world, computing is incomplete without Windows. Those who have been used to Windows for more than a decade would understand that Windows has come a long way from being a OS based on DOS to Windows 7- the most beautiful Windows version to date. But now the time has come for Microsoft to recreate history and give consumers a new Windows which is better, faster, smoother than Windows 7 and hence Microsoft is working hard on Windows 8. With rumors going around the web about Microsoft planning to release it during the holiday season at the end of 2012, Microsoft according to its tradition has released a consumer preview of Windows 8 which gives a detailed information about its features. Read on as I review Windows 8 consumers preview and provide you with information about what is windows 8 and its features.

INTRODUCTION: Windows 8 is completely different from Windows 7( or I should say any windows to date?). The windows 8 has a metro-style interface, somewhat similar to windows phone. As soon as you boot windows 8 you would be surprised to see the start menu replaced by full screen view of tiles which can be scrolled horizontally only. You will also miss the old task bar and start orb. You can pin documents, applications, shortcuts, web pages and whatever you like to the tiles and customize their appearance as you want according to your convenience.


          
For developers, Microsoft has included the option to create Metro- specific apps. The catch here is that these apps cannot be run in the traditional re-sizable windows but can be tacked on to the left or right of the display which would cost you about a quarter of your display area but that's what you have to be content be. These makes it easy for developers to create apps however, would frustrate the power users who in lack of re-sizable windows will have to Alt+ Tab quite more often.


GESTURES: Due to the lack of visual indicators Gestures hold an important position on the OS. In order to easily operate windows 8 you have to be well- versed in using all the gestures. Here are a few highlights to give you an idea of what I am talking about-


RIGHT BEZEL- CHARMS: To access this on a desktop or laptop, you will have to bring your cursor to upper right or lower right corner and on a tablet a simple swipe in from the bezel would do the trick.
From the top these are:


 1)SEARCH 2) SHARE 3) START 4) DEVICES and 5) SETTINGS


BOTTOM AND TOP BEZELS- COMMANDS: Are you annoyed of the fact that your browser or a few other apps take that precious space on the top and bottom of the display even when you don't need any of their services- for example the search bar in windows explorer and tabs and URL bar in a browser, then here's what Microsoft has done for you- all the app based commands are now hidden automatically so that don't interfere with your user experience and when you need them just right click with the mouse on the top or bottom of the screen( according to the feature you need to use or swipe a finger from top or bottom on a tablet- easy as you like.


LEFT BEZEL- MULTITASKING: This is where you would come quite often. Dragging in from the left of the display on a tablet and dragging the mouse from upper left to bottom on a PC or a laptop will show you a list of apps you recently used. you can drag a app to the middle of the display would make it pop to take the full screen or you can drag the app halfway to make it dock on to the left quarter of the display or if you want you may drag it to the right quarter as well. All in all this is good for touchscreen users but desktop users might find it a bit difficult in the beginning. 


 KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS: So you hate a mouse and like the old keyboard shortcuts? Then you won't be disappointed with Windows 8 retaining most of shortcuts from its predecessor and a few new ones are also incorporated keeping in mind the metro-based apps. Here are a few highlights-


WINDOWS + ARROW KEYS: This combination with left or right arrow keys docks metro-based apps to the the left or right quarter of the display. For non metro apps they still would minimize or maximize the app window.


WINDOWS + C: This brings the charms bar mentioned above. you can replace C with I, K or H for settings, connect or share charms respectively.


WINDOWS + Tab: this toggles between apps and here windows desktop is counted as as app.( note that Alt+ tab still works here for tabbing between each individual window on the desktop and the metro-style apps.


WINDOWS+ prtscr: This takes a screen shot of your display and when you will fall in love with windows 8's UI ( which you will surely) you will use this key quite often.


XBOX INTEGRATION: If you own a XBOX then this might be a very prominent pin on the start screen. To understand it better view this video below.




APPS: Since Windows 8 concentrates on metro-UI, the built in apps are also Metro-themed. A few highlights are the mail and app which quickly ties to your chosen email and social networking account, Messenger app which ties to Facebook and Microsoft's own messenger service.
   For those who keep their data on clouds, windows 8 would come equipped with skydrive which is Microsoft's version of i-cloud. It is however, more manual giving you much more control on what you want to upload and when making backing up and sharing of data easy.




   
The above mentioned share charm would enable you to easily share your content right from the app you are using. For example, you can easily share a web page you found interesting while browsing through the Internet Explorer 10( we will come to that later) which would share it as a link while you can share an image in your Hard drive or on your Facebook account through mail. With these apps it can be said that windows 8 would create a beautiful and user-friendly Eco-system which would be liked by the users.




INTERNET EXPLORER 10: A new version of windows comes with a new version of internet explore which is not unknown. But here is the surprise there is not one but two different version of IE 10 in windows 8. One is the metro-styled IE 10 which can take advantages of all the charms and bezels and also the share feature and the one which entirely the IE you know with tabs and URL bar and without share and other charms. Even both of them are shown as different entries in the task manager and don't remember each other's browsing history.


HOW TO SHOW MY COMPUTER ON DESKTOP: So you are not quite impressed with the metro UI and want your old desktop back here's how you do it- After booting you would see the the full screen view of tiles on the start menu. There, click on the desktop. You will now see a desktop similar to Windows 7. Now just right click on the blank space and personalize it with the icons of apps you need just like you do on your current version of windows. The next time you click desktop tile on start menu, you won't have to do that all over again.


WRAP-UP: Windows 8 is entirely different from the windows we are used to. It can be said that after windows 95, it the first time windows has gone through a complete make-over. Will it be accepted by the masses in doubtful since hard-core users might not enjoy the metro-based apps but before you make a decision try the consumer preview to see how it goes for you. I hope this post gave you some information about what is windows 8 and furnished you with info about its features.


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