Microsoft’s next-generation operating system, Windows 8, is expected to release this fall, offering plenty of drastic (and a few not-so-drastic) changes from previous Windows operating systems. Below is a list of some key Windows 8 features.
• Windows 8 operates with a “Metro-style” design akin to that of the Windows Phone operating system. It features a tile-based Start screen, and each tile represents an application instead of the traditional desktop icons
• The Start button has been removed; in its place are four “hot corners,” which are accessed by scrolling the mouse over to a corner of the screen to pull down menus
• The “Charms Menu” (Windows 8’s version of a home row) can be brought up by swiping right to left with the trackpad, swiping left switches between apps, and dragging down from the top displays more options
• Windows 8 features a new login/lock screen that shows the date and time and notifications, as well as a customizable background
• Metro applications run in full-screen, or two can be displayed on higher resolutions by snapping one to the side of the screen.
• The most drastic change is that laptops and tablets released with Windows 8 will offer touchscreen and non-touchscreen versions. Touching an icon opens the app, just as touching the corner of the screen brings up the “hot corner” menu hidden there. The touch-sensitive mice Microsoft and other manufacturers are designing mean that Windows 8 can run effectively with or without the use of a touchscreen
• Tiles can be rearranged into groups for ease of access
• Both vertical and horizontal scrolling works smoothly and quickly by touch or by mouse
• For users who prefer the feel of the older Windows operating systems, the regular desktop can be accessed through the “Desktop” tile on the Start screen. Starting a traditional desktop-based application also switches to the desktop
• Microsoft has confirmed the introduction of a Windows Store on Windows 8, allowing developers to publish their Metro-style applications on Windows 8 devices. The Windows Store will also allow developers to publish their Win32 or “traditional desktop” applications, but will only provide links to such applications on their websites, making the Windows Store the only means of distributing Metro-style apps to users in order to limit security flaws and malware