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Just moments ago, Microsoft Windows 8 made it to North American shores tonight at around midnight EDT!
Windows 8 is the latest release of the Windows operating system and it comes slight more than three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows 7
. Windows 8's server counterpart, Windows Server 2012
was released on 4 September 2012. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Server 2008 R2 has no support
for Itanium-based computers.
Windows 8 introduces a new shell and user interface
based off Microsoft's "Metro" design language
and that it features a new Start screen
with a grid of dynamically updating tiles to represent applications, a new app platform
with emphasis on touchscreen input, the new Windows Store
to obtain and purchase applications for the system and the ability to synchronise software
and settings between multiple devices.
Development of Windows 8 started before the release of Windows 7 sometime in 2009. Its existence was first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 and followed by the release of the pre-release versions from September 2011 to May 2012. Windows 8 has the stable build release of version 6.2.9200.16384
and was completed on 1 August 2012
Windows 8 is the first OS to support the ARM architecture
and that it takes advantage of new and emerging technologies, including USB 3.0
, UEFI firmware
, near field communications
and cloud computing
. MAIN FEATURES
Unlike Windows 7, Windows 8 includes new features such as native USB 3.0 support
, Microsoft account integration
, the Windows Store
, the ability to boot from USB flash drives with Windows to Go
, easier system restore options
, among others.
Here's a complete run down on what's included with Windows 8:
Windows Store: Windows Store is a digital distribution platform built into the Windows 8 operating system, which in a manner is similar to Apple's App Store and Google Play. Windows Store allows the distribution and purchase of apps designed for Windows 8. Developers will still be able to advertise desktop software through the Windows Store as well. And to ensure that the apps are secure and of a high quality, Windows Store will be the only means of distribution Windows RT-based apps for consumer-oriented versions of Windows 8.
New Start screen: Windows 8 features an extensively redesigned user interface incorporating a design language that is codenamed "Metro" and optimised for touchscreens as well as mice and keyboards. A new "Start screen" that is similar to the one in Windows Phone, includes live application tiles. The start screen replaces the Start menu, being triggered by the Windows key, click a hot corner in the bottom left and is also the first screen shown on startup. The user can then go to the regular desktop via a tile on the Start screen or by launching a desktop application.
User login redesigned: Windows 8 features a new lock screen, which includes the current date and time display along with the ability to display notifications from apps.
Microsoft account integration: User accounts can be linked to a Microsoft account to provide additional functionality, such as the synchronisation of user data and the integration with other Microsoft services such as Xbox Live and SkyDrive online storage.
Mult-monitor support: Windows 8 also includes improved support for multi-monitor configurations; the taskbar can now be shown on multiple displays and each display can also show its own dedicated taskbar. Wallpapers can also be spanned across multiple displays or each display can have its own separate wallpaper.
File Explorer: Windows Explorer, which now has been renamed File Explorer, incorporates a ribbon toolbar that is designed to bring forward the most commonly used commands for easy access. Additionally, File Explorer features a redesigned preview pane that takes advantage of widescreen layouts. File Explorer provides built-in function for mounting ISO, IMG and VHD files as virtual hard drives.
Internet Explorer 10: Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 also ships with Internet Explorer 10 and will be made available for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 in mid-November. Internet Explorer 10 can ran as either a desktop programme or as a app with a new full-screen interface optimised for use on touchscreens. Internet Explorer 10 also has a integrated version of Adobe Flash Player, which will be available in full on the desktop and in a limited form within the "Metro" app. For more information on Windows Internet Explorer 10, read this Wikipedia article: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet…
Task Manager: Windows 8 includes an overhauled version of the Windows Task Manager where the following changes were made:
1. The tabs are now hidden by default. This view only shows applications.
2. The resource utilisation in the Process tab is shown using a heat map, with darker shades of yellow representing heavier use.
3. The Performance tab is split into CPU, memory, disk, Ethernet and wireless network (if applicable) sections.
4. A new Startup tab has been added that lists startup applications and their impact on boot time.
5. The Process tab now lists application names, application status and overall usage data for CPU, memory, hard disk and network resources for each process.
Family Safety: Family Safety will no longer be a separate install via Windows Live as it will allow administrators to monitor and restrict activity via web filtering, application restriction and computer usage time limits.
Other features of Windows 8 include the following:
OVERVIEW OF WINDOWS 8 EDITIONS
File History: A function that is similar to Mac OS X's Time Machine, replaces the "Previous Versions" and Backup and Restore features that were previously found on Windows Vista and Windows 7. File History automatically creates incremental backups of files stored in Libraries and user-specified folders to a external storage device. Users can then track and restore specific revisions of files using the "History" functions in File Explorer.
Hardware support: As mentioned earlier in this article, Windows 8 adds native support for USB 3.0, which will allow faster data transfers and improved power management with compatible devices. A port of Windows for the ARM architecture was also created for Windows 8. The OS is known as Windows RT and it is specifically optimised for mobile devices such as tablets. The downside is that Windows RT will only be able to run third-party Windows Store apps and will also come with a special version of Office 2013 that is optimised to run with better efficiency on ARM-based systems.
Installation: A new installer known as the Upgrade Assistant is offered, which is intended to provide simpler and faster process for upgrading to Windows 8 from previous versions of Windows. Along with performing the installation, it also integrates compatiblity checks, assists in the transfer of files and settings, downloads the operating system for those have purchased it online and allows the user to generate installation media on a DVD or a USB drive.
Networking: Windows 8 has incorporated improved support for mobile broadband as a "first-class" method of internet connectivity. Upon the insertion of a SIM card, the operating system will automatically determine the user's carrier and configure relevant connection settings using an Access Point Name database, The operating system can also monitor mobile data usage and changes its behaviour accordingly to reduce bandwidth use on metered networks. Carriers can also offer their own dedicated Windows Store apps for account management, which can also be installed automatically as a part of the connection process. Windows 8 also reduces the need for third-party drivers and software to implement mobile broadband by providing a generic driver and by providing an integrated airplane mode option.
Startup: Windows 8 defaults to a "hybrid boot" mode. When the operating system is shut down, it hibernates the kernel thus allowing for a faster boot on the subsequent startup. On compatible systems, a manufacturer's splash can now be maintained on-screen following the Power-on Self-Test (POST), allowing for a seamless transition between control from the firmware to Windows.
Repair and recovery: When a system is experiencing issues that have been preventing the operating system from functioning correctly, Windows 8 can detect it and automatically launch the Advanced Startup menu to access diagnostic and repair functions.
Windows 8 also adds Refresh and Reset options, which will allow a user to re-install Windows 8 without needing to use installation media. Both of these options reboot the system into the Windows Recovery Environment to perform the requested operation. Refresh preserves user profiles, settings and apps, while Reset reformats the system partition and re-installs the operating system entirely. The reset function may also perform specialised disk wiping procedures for added security. Both operations will remove all installed desktop applications from the system. Users have the option to create a custom disk image for use with Refresh and Reset.
Security: Windows 8 ships with an updated version of Windows Defender which is now based off Microsoft Security Essentials, but it adds virus protection capabilities to the software alongside malware protection. Windows Defender will automatically disable itself it it detects that third-part security software has been installed and is only designed to remain active if no anti-virus software is currently installed or it detects that an anti-virus programme's subscription has expired.
The secure boot mechanism on Windows 8 is also supported on UEFI-based systems. As it will use a public-key infrastructure process to verify the integrity of the Windows boot loader thus preventing malware from infecting the system before the operating system even loads.
Video subsystem: Windows 8 includes WDDM 1.2 and DirectX Graphics Infrastructure (DXGI) 1.2. The Desktop Window Manager (DWM) now runs at all times - even on systems with unsupported graphics cards where DWM now also supports software rendering. DWM now also includes support for stereoscopic 3D content.
Other major features include pre-emptive multitasking with finer granularity, reduced memory footprint, improved resource sharing and faster timeout detection and recovery. 16-bit colour surface formats are mandatory in Windows 8 and Direct3D 11 Video supports YUV 4:4:4/4:2:2/4:2:0/4:1:1 video formats with 8, 10 and 16-bit precision as well as 4 and 8-bit paletted formats.
Windows to Go: Windows to Go is a Windows 8 Enterprise feature that will allow users to create a bootable USB device with Windows 8 in it, including the user's programmes, settings and files.
Virtualisation: Lastly, Windows 8 offers two virtualisation features Hyper-V and Storage Spaces. First, Hyper-V, previously offered only in Windows Server is now included in Windows 8 Pro, replacing Windows Virtual PC, a hosted hypervisor. Secondly, Storage Spaces is a storage virtualisation technology which succeeds Logical Disk Manager and allows the organisation of physical disks into logical volumes similar to Logical Volume Manager under Linux, RAID1 or RAID5 but at a higher abstraction level.
Windows 8 comes in four editions
, each with varying feature sets.
Windows 8: Windows 8 is the basic edition of Windows for the x86 and x86-64 architectures. This edition contains features that are aimed at the home market segment and provides all of the basic new Windows 8 features including the Start screen with semantic zoom, live tiles, Windows Store, Internet Explorer 10, connected standby, Microsoft account integration, the Windows desktop and more. The 64-bit edition of Windows 8 will support up to 128 GB of physical memory, an significant increase from 8 GB and 16 GB memory limits from Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium respectively.
Windows 8 Pro: Windows 8 Pro is comparable to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is targeted towards enthusiasts and business users. Along with all of the features of Windows 8, additional features include operating as a Remote Desktop server, the ability to participate in a Windows Server domain, Encrypting File System, Hyper-V and Virtual Hard Disk booting, Group Policy as well as BitLocker and BitLocker to Go. Windows Media Center functionality will be available only for Windows 8 Pro as a free "add-on". The 64-bit edition of Windows 8 Pro will be able to address up to as much as 512 GB of physical memory, a near four-fold increase from 192 GB from Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate.
Windows 8 Enterprise: Windows 8 Enterprise provides all of the features in Windows 8 Pro (except the ability to install the Windows Media Center add-on), with additional features to assist with IT organisations. This edition is available only to Software Assurance customers, as well as MSDN and Technet Professional subscribers. Windows 8 Enterprise was released on 16 August 2012. Like the 64-bit edition of Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise will too address up to as much as 512 GB of physical memory.
Windows RT: Windows RT will only be available as a pre-installation on ARM-based devices such as tablet PCs and was named for the Windows Runtime development platform that Microsoft is introducing in Windows 8. Windows RT will include touch-optimised desktop versions of the basic set of Office 2013 applications to users. Several business-focused features such as Group Policy and domain support are not included. Windows RT has significant limitations, because it's designed only for the 32-bit ARM processor and it can only address up to 4 GB of physical memory.
To upgrade or install Windows 8, your computer must meet the following hardware requirements:
A 1 GHz 32-bit or a 64-bit processor, with Physical Address Extensions (PAE), NX-bit and SSE2 instructions.
1 GB of physical memory minimum for a 32-bit version of Windows 8; 2 GB of physical memory minimum for the 64-bit version of Windows 8. Windows 8 can address up to 128 GB of physical memory for consumer editions and up to 512 GB of physical memory for Pro/Enterprise editions.
DirectX 9-capable graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver.
16 GB of hard disk space for the 32-bit installation and 20 GB of hard disk space for the 64-bit version.
In addition to hardware requirements for desktop and laptop-based computers, Microsoft has released minimum hardware requirements for new tablet and convertible devices designed for Windows 8 and definded a convertible form factor as a standalone device that combines the PC, display and rechargeable power source with a mechanically attached keyboard and pointing device in a single chassis. A convertible can be transformed into a tablet where the attached input devices are hidden or removed leaving the display as the only input mechanism.
Here are the hardware certification requirements for Windows tablets:
Graphics Card: A DirectX 10 graphics device with WDDM 1.2 or higher driver.
Storage: At least 10 GB of free disk space after the out-of-box experience completes.
Standard buttons: The following standard buttons must include "Power", "Rotation Lock", "Windows Key", "Volume-up" and "Volume-down".
Screen: For touch screen capabilities, Windows 8 requires support for a minimum of 5-point digitisers and resolution of at least 1366 x 768. The physical dimensions of the display panel must match the aspect ratio of the native resolution. The native resolution of the panel can be greater than 1366 (horizontally) and 768 (vertically). Minimum native colour depth must be at least 32-bit colour.
Camera: Minimum resolution of 720p (pixels).
Ambient light sensor: 1-30K lux capable with dymanic range of 5-60K.
Accelerometre: 3 axes with data rates at or above 50 Hz.
USB 2.0 support: At least one USB controller and exposed port.
Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy).
Other features: Lastly, Windows 8 for Windows tablets and convertible devices require a speaker, microphone, magnetometre and a gyroscope. If a mobile broadband device is integrated into a tablet or convertible system, then an assisted GPS radio is requried. Devices supporting near field communication need to have visual marks to help users locate and use the proimity technology. The new button combination for Ctrl + Alt + Del (Control+Alt+Delete) is Windows Key + Power.
Windows 8 can run on Hyper-V
, VMware Workstation v8.0.2 for Windows
, VirutalBox v4.1.8 for Windows
, Parallels Workstation v6.0 for Windows
, Parallels Desktop v4.0
for Windows and XenDesktop v5.5
. Windows 8 is no longer compatible with Microsoft Virtual PC 2007
, Windows Virtual PC
, Microsoft Virtual Server
as well as VMware Workstation v7.x
In regards to the hardware requirements, the minimum requirements are slightly higher than Windows 7. Even though Microsoft stated the minimum processor speed for Windows 8, it is still technically possible to install and run the operating system on a single-core processor such as a early Pentium 4, older Celeron and even AMD Athlon 64 processors. Windows 8 is not compatible with processors older than a Pentium 4 (such as a Pentium II, Pentium III or AMD Athlon XP) as it requires a processor with PAE support, NX-bit and SSE2 instructions. In older Windows 8 developer builds, it was even possible to install the Windows 8 Developer Preview on a Pentium III or even a AMD Athlon processor, but support for those processors has since been removed in later builds and in the final release. UPGRADE ELIGIBILITY
Users will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 online (using a download that can be optionally burned to a DVD) or through boxed copies at retail on DVD. Microsoft will offer upgrades from previous versions of Windows, including Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro at a discounted price of $39.99
($69.99 at retail) from its launch until 31 January 2013
. The pricing available of Windows 8 is significantly lower than the regular retail prices for past versions of Windows.
Microsoft also began to offer an upgrade programme for anyone purchasing new computers pre-loaded with Windows 7 between 2 June 2012
to 31 January 2013
...in which users will be able to digitally purchase a Windows 8 Pro upgrade for as little as $14.99
Microsoft dropped upgrade paths from unsupported versions of Windows (or service packs) to Windows 8. Users of unsupported OSes (such as Windows 2000) must purchase a full Windows 8 retail license if the computer can handle the minimum system requirements pointed above. LIFECYCLE SUPPORT POLICY
Mainstream Support for Windows 8 will start on 30 October 2012
and will be retired on 9 January 2018
. Extended Support will end on 10 January 2023
. This applies to all editions of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.
Now that Windows 8 is out, Windows 7 will still be available, but Microsoft will stop selling Windows 7 to direct OEMs and terminate retail sales of the OS on 26 October 2013
. Windows 7 will continue to remain available only as a pre-loaded OS by OEM system builders until 26 October 2014
Mainstream Support for Windows 7 will end on 13 January 2015
and Extended Support for Windows 7 will end on 14 January 2020
. Users who have Windows 8 pre-installed will be able to grade to either Windows 7
or Windows Vista SP2
, but not Windows XP as it will go out of support on 8 April 2014. MICROSOFT WINDOWS OFFICIAL WEBSITE