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Windows 8

Microsoft introduced his new operating system, called Windows 8. Windows 8 shall bring great changes and is different than we're used to. The biggest change is the new starting menu: Metro.

The Windows 8 Metro userinterface

Metro is an interface, that's already used in Microsoft Zune HD-mediaspeler and Windows 7 Phone. It is also used in Windows XP Media Center, released in 2002. It's name and it's design refers to the design airports and subways use.  The design you can see on the right, shows different tiles. These are called Live Tiles and are dynamic and fully customizable. The menu you are used to, are hidden on the edges.


Metro applications
Together with the introducing of the new operating system,  Microsoft announces a new type of application, the Metro applications. They use the same design as the start menu. The share and settings charms are dependant on the applications that is currently opened. The used applications choose what kind of information they would like to share. To share items by email or to Social Media like Facebook or Twitter you will need to have the correct applications installed. There is also a device charm, which can be used to send information to other devices.

Multiple applications can easily share one screen, to make it even easier for you to multitask.With a simple click and sweep, you can add another application.

These applications will be sold via the new Windows Store. Developers can send their applications with Visual Studio. Unfortunately the Windows Store wasn't available for testing.

Old desktop interface
Aside from the introduction of the new Metro interface, the old interface is still available. The old interface is hidden and when you press the Start button, you will return to the new interface. Old applications don't work with the new interface, so you will have to open the old desktop interface to run those programs. The old desktop interface has also changed. It's a bit more simplistic, like the new Metro interface.

The new Version of Windows introduces a new feature called Connected Standby. This mode uses very little energy, but the network interfaces are still active, so the system can still send and receive data. This is the same method most smart phones use.

Another feature is Page Combining. To reduce memory usage, Windows 8 looks for memory pieces that are identical. The system then removes the double memory and links to the remaining memory.

Boot time is much shorter than the old Windows versions. At shutdown the user session closes, but the kernel session writes itself to the hard disk. At startup it boots itself with this kernel, reducing the boot time.

Microsoft implemented Windows Defender in it's bootstage, making it a safer to use your computer. With this feature Windows checks if there are any virusses operating at runtime, so they can be secured. It's also possible to disable Windows Defender, so you can install a virus scanner you like.

Windows Live
The online services of Windows Live are better integrated in Windows than ever. A user can login in Windows with his Live username and password. Also connections to social networks are better implemented with Windows Live. Do you have multiple devices with Windows or Windows Phone? Then you're data will be seamlessly synchronized.

New Internet Explorer
Windows 8 shall contain 2 versions of Internet Explorer. One for the new Metro interface and one for the old desktop interface. Internet Explorer 10 is available in the Metro interface. The browser uses hardware rendering to make sure it's one of the fastest browser currently available. The new Internet Explorer can use lot's of different new effects like, shadows, 3D transformations and animations. CSS3 support is also available.

A disadvantage however is that Internet Explorer 10 does not support Flash or Silverlight or other plugins. This is to save the battery time of the device and to ensure the stability of the browser.

Microsoft has also announced that Windows 8 can be run on ARM architecture, which mostly is used in smart phones or tablets. ARM processors produce less heat and use less energy.

Want to try the new Windows? There is a developers preview available at Microsoft MSDN.

Windows 8 Server
Windows 8 server is also announced. A developers preview is already available at Microsoft MSDN. The operating system is not available for ARM systems, because ARM chips are 32 bits and Windows server is exclusively available for 64 bits. Windows 8 Server is developed with previous experiences from Windows Azure. Thanks to this cloud technique, Microsoft promises high availability and disaster recovery for low costs.

The biggest change of Windows 8 Server is that there is no User Interface. The User Interface can be installed, but is by default deactivated.  

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