Windows 8 Preview

From the looks of the initial pre-release, Windows 8 resembles a mobile operating system like what you might see on a Windows Phone. Microsoft calls this new user interface, "Metro UI". For traditional desktop users, this new change may be a little confusing to use.

Once Windows 8 boots, the user is directed to a Lock Screen which displays the time, date, battery power indicator (if applicable) and network status. Double-clicking your mouse or pressing a key on your keyboard sends the user to the login screen. Once logged in, the Home Screen (a.k.a. the new Start Menu) appears with links to Internet Explorer, news feeds, the new Microsoft App Store and games. Those using a traditional mouse and keyboard can scroll up and down through the menus while those using touchscreens can pinch and swipe to navigate.

Not unlike the Apple Store, you can purchase and download Metro Apps from the Microsoft App Store. Once installed, these apps are made available in the Start Menu. Of course, you can also install traditional Desktop applications as long as they are Windows 8 compatible.

While the Metro UI is a nice addition, you can still access the Windows Desktop, although it does look a bit different than previous versions of Windows. If you are using dual monitors, Windows 8 boots as Metro UI on one display and the Desktop on the other.

For those who have used the latest versions of Microsoft Office (2007 & 2010), you'll notice that the new Windows Explorer in Windows 8 utilizes a similar ribbon-style menu at the top, including the Quick Access Toolbar. The ribbon menu provides larger icons that can be customized to display the features you use most. Another exciting and probably long awaited feature in Windows Explorer is the copy function. In Windows 8, you'll be able to know exactly how long it will take to copy those files from one location to another. The details pane will show you the a percentage complete and the amount of remaining time left to copy. What's more, file collision is handled more efficiently by not barraging the user with a ton of alert windows when overwriting files.

Lastly, the other most notable difference in Windows 8 is the new Task Manager. It looks much less intimidating and simpler to use. Microsoft added a new App History tab which lists how often you've used each application on your system and tells you which ones are using the most resources. This feature seems like a great utility to identify bloatware and prevent it from taking over your system.

Overall, we believe Windows 8 is headed in the right direction. Supporting both desktop and mobile users should give Microsoft a chance at capturing new customers as well as retaining their current client base. As computing technology changes, users will need to adapt to a host of new features and new ways of doing things, but one thing is for sure, Fast Rhino will be here to help.

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