Windows 8 is the official name for the next version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.  Its official release date is set for October 2012 but it’s already available as a free download in a Consumer Preview edition. Computer lovers will find Windows 8 features new and exiting.

windows 8

Here at Fentons HQ we’ve been putting the nearly completed operating system through its paces and we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 new features it has to offer.  In no particular order, are favourite features are;

1. Faster Boot Times

No more sitting around waiting for your PC to start up or shut down, Microsoft claims to have made Windows 8 boot times 70% faster than those of Windows 7.  This has been achieved by making some subtle changes to the way the PC shuts down and resumes.  Windows 8 takes advantage of all available processor cores to accelerate boot times and resuming from hibernation.

Windows 8 fast startup compared to Windows 7 cold boot

2. Restore PC and Reset PC

Microsoft have looked at making the reinstallation of Windows a much easier process, with Restore PC, all files and settings can be left intact, and everything else getting cleared out.  The Reset PC option provides an automated way to completely wipe a Windows 8 installation and start from scratch.  This can prove handy if you’re planning to sell or pass on a PC with its operating system fresh and intact, ensuring there is no trace of your data or applications left on the disk.

3. Windows To Go – new Windows 8 features

A fantastic business feature is Windows To Go, which allows companies to provide employees with a locked down installation of Windows 8 on a USB media stick.  This means remote workers could be given a computer image with applications stored on a memory stick, this could then be used to boot from on their own hardware.  The USB stick can be encrypted with BitLocker, ensuring data is safe if the drive was lost or stolen.

4. Less computer restarts

Windows 8 is much more considerate regarding computer restarts.  Microsoft promises the need to only restart once a month when critical updates are released.   It has changed the Windows update 20 minute notification for restarts to 3 days, and computers will not restart if an application or unsaved work is open.  Only once work has been saved will Windows force an update to install and restart.

5. Interactive Tiles

The Metro start screen in Windows 8 is a completely new user interface and does away with the traditional task bar and Start button.  Large tile icons make up the desktop; these turn the desktop into an interactive dashboard displaying live data.  The tile for the Mail application provides snippets of unread messages in your inbox, the Music tile shows which track is currently playing, and the calendar app displays forthcoming appointments in your diary.  It’s great for getting an overview of what’s going on when you fire up you PC first thing in the morning.

windows 8

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is free to download from the Microsoft website:

This consumer preview edition will eventually run out and when the final versions of Windows 8 are launched you won’t be able to upgrade from the consumer preview edition, although there will be migration tools to make the process of transferring data and settings easier.