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Need to Know – Windows 8

Microsoft’s next OS has strutted its stuff – here are all the important bits

Yesterday’s BUILD conference saw Microsoft unveiling its next iteration of Windows and with the developer build of the new OS now available to download, we thought we’d show you the basics to prepare you for your first foray in to the world of Windows 8.

All shapes and sizes

Windows 8 will play nicely with a whole slew of devices, ranging from 10in tablets and notebooks to big screen all-in-one PCs. The prospect of a fully-fledged ‘grown up’ OS on a tablet should definitely appeal to the productivity crowd.

Hello Metro

The biggest change is the replacement of the traditional lock screen and desktop, both of which have been replaced by Windows Phone 7’s Metro UI-inspired alternatives. The default removal of the Start menu will come as a bit of a shock, but its stylish replacement – the live tiles – look set to be a cleaner and swifter way of accessing the stuff that matters the most.

Touchy feely

You only need one look at the Metro style interface to know that Microsoft’s new OS was built with touch navigation in mind. A simple pinch-out-to-zoom, for example, will let you see all of your tiles at once for easier navigation. You can also swipe to switch between apps as well as placing them side-by-side. Swiping from the right brings up the ‘charm bar’ which allows you share, search and switch to the desktop.

Apps galore

Apps will be able to communicate with each other and one example of this is the ability to send photos from Facebook, Flickr or your hard drive. The Windows Store is the shopfront in which developers hope to sell their wares and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for an early onslaught of high quality apps to get the ball rolling.

Perfecting the basics

A near-instant boot feature has already been shown off by Microsoft and an enhanced Task Manager promises to bump up efficiency in a bid to save resources and reduce power when required, resulting in a promise of better performance all round.


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