Windows 8 new features

Windows 8 is creating a lot of buzz last few weeks. There are lot of exciting new features of Windows 8 discussed everywhere. In this article, I will discuss the best new features expected to be available in the upcoming Windows 8.

Windows 8 is not an official name yet, but you can see a huge array of articles and websites use this name to represent the name of next release of Microsoft Windows operating system. Discussing the validity of the name is not the intention of this article, so I will leave it to some other articles. In this article, wherever I use the name "Windows 8", consider it as "next version of Windows".

The primary purpose of this article is to discuss the new features coming up in Windows 8. Well, remember Microsoft has not made any announcements regarding the next version of Windows or the features included in it. So, anything mentioned in this article is not official and most of them are based on various leaked information in the internet. Many new features of Windows 8 mentioned in this article may not actually show up in Windows 8 release or may be significantly different from what I have mentioned here.

1 June 2011: Microsoft officially confirmed "Windows 8" as the internal code name for next version of Windows. Also, Microsoft officially demoed few features like Tile based start screen and new HTML5 based App model.

Top new features in Windows 8

Here is the list of new features coming up in Windows 8, based on various sources found in internet. The information is gathered is from several sources and I have not made signficant efforts to make sure they are genuine information. I will do that once I get a genuine copy of Windows 8 myself.

New Tile based start screen

A Tile is a program shortcut displayed in the home screen of Windows 8, but it much more. A Tile is a small, rectangular program interface similar to the Icons. However, a Tile offers few enhancements over traditional Icons.

Tile is "Live" and "Interactive". Programs can display information on the Tile like notifications, current status etc. This means, you can get details and notifications from a program even when it is not opened. Users can click on the tile and perform some operations without opening the application. Tile is bigger than Icons allowing programs to display more information on it.

For example, a Tile for your mail account can show the number of new emails. a weather channel Tile can display the current weather. A stock ticker Tile can display the current trading value of few stocks. In short, a Tile can do the job a gadget on your desktop and at the same time will be a shortcut to your application.

Those who have used Windows Phone 7 will be familiar with the Tiles. The new Tile based Start screen in Windows 8 borrows heavily from the Windows 7 Phone UI.

Icons have been part of Windows for last 15 years. With Windows 8, Microsoft is bringing significant changes to this concept. The classic start menu is being replaced with a Tile based start screen.

Windows 8 - new start screen with Live Tiles

Tile based Start screen is one of very few features officially confirmed by Microsoft in it's first demo at the D9 conference.

Tile is touch friendly and you can perform various operations on a program Tile using your finger. You may add multiple Tiles to your start screen and scroll through them using your fingers or mouse. You may expand a Tile to fill the screen.

HTML 5 and Javascript based Windows apps

A significant change to the Windows operating system is, Windows 8 will support a new App model with HTML 5 and Javascript as the native programming language. HTML 5 applications will be able to take advantage of the new UI model introduced in Windows 8. Microsoft mentioned that it's own proprietary technologies like .NET, Silverlight and WPF will be supported and it is unclear whether they can take advantage of the new UI library coming with Windows 8 to take advantage of the new touch and Tile based UI.

HTML 5 and Javascript Apps will be able to take full advantage of the new features in Windows 8 through the UI library provided with Windows 8, including hardware acceleration in Internet Explorer 10.

Windows 8 is a touch centric and touch friendly operating system

This is a big change to Windows in it's history. Windows 8 is touch centric. This means the way applications are developed is going to change. New Apps targeting Windows 8 will have larger icons, buttons and controls for easy touch operations. You can move, reposition and slide using your fingers. Windows Phone 7 already friendly, but this is getting in to the regular Windows based computers too. In other words, Windows is borrowing from Mobile OS.

Windows 8 will run on any devices

The gap between desktops, laptops, tablets, slates and phones are going away or at least being reduced significantly. Windows 8 can run on any devices including regular x86 processors and SoS chips. Windows 8 will combine features required for easy navigation and operation of any type of devices. You can use the tablet based touch operations on a desktop computer and use a mouse/keyboard with a tablet (if you wish to do so...).

The most significant aspect of this change is, you can develop applications for Windows 8 and that will run on several devices. This saves millions of dollars for enterprises in application development.

Snap the windows and work with multiple programs at the same time

I am a Windows lover and I am a Microsoft MVP. But I love my iPad more than any Windows based tablets. But probably that is going to change once I get a Windows 8 based tablet. One thing I don't like with Apple iPad is, I can work with only 1 program at a time. Windows 8 is going to change the game for tablets. You can snap your program window to the side and have multiple programs visible at the same time. This is nothing new to desktop/laptop users. Windows 7 already offer a snap feature to snap your windows to the side quickly. Similar feature is coming to tablet/mobile platforms.

In Windows 8, you can snap your program window to the side easily with your fingers. You can adjust the height or width and reposition - all with your fingers.

The following features are spread by several bloggers, but there are no strong evidence to prove they are actually included in Windows 8

Cloud Synchronization in Windows 8

This new feature came in to attention only recently after some one got access to an early leak of Windows 8. However, it seem to be an exciting feature. Now everyone is talking about cloud computing and Google is going after the clouds as well. So obviously Microsoft wanted their share as well in the clouds.

Even though there is no official information available, based on the news spreading in the internet, cloud synchronization feature will allow you to synchronize your data and files to a cloud system. It could be a Microsoft cloud server which you can subscribe through the Windows App Store (?) or it could be a third party cloud system. If Microsoft does not open the doors to third party cloud synchronization, this feature is not going to be an exciting one for most users.

If Windows 8 supports cloud synchronization feature, it will be a great new feature that most of us are going to love.

Windows 8 on a USB drive

Microsoft decided to respond to the challenges from Google Chrome by offering 'Take Windows 8 with you wherever you go. This feature is called "Windows 8 on USB drive" by the Windows 8 watchers. Since Microsoft has not officially named their features and the product itself, let us go by the name given by the Windows 8 lovers. Some others call this feature "Windows 8 portable workspace".

The good thing is, now you can take your Windows 8 profile and settings with you on your USB drive and get productive any where in the world and on any computer within minutes. However, the not so good news is, this feature will be available only for the enterprise license users.

According to the available information, you will be able to copy your Windows 8 installation to a USB drive which is 16GB or higher in size. You can simply plug in this USB drive in any computer and start the work in few seconds. This will be a really useful feature in Windows 8. There is no need to carry a big laptop with you when you travel. Instead, just copy your Windows 8 workspace in to a USB drive and keep it in your shirt pocket!

Some people have already started complaining this is an ideal copied from Linux. But who cares?

Windows 8 App Store feature

App store became a very popular name among the iPod, iPad and iPhone users. If you are an Apple product user, you would have used App store atleast once. I am sure you will agree with me on how easy and reliable it is to buy the products from the integrated App store.

Better late than never. Microsoft is integrating the App store concept with Windows 8. The new Windows 8 will have an integrated App store where you can buy the tested, verified and reviewed products directly from your Windows. You can read reviews written by other buyers and also share your reviews on the items you buy.

There are lot of screenshots posted by various bloggers. However, we do not know if they are real or not. Wait couple of weeks to find more reliable information on the Windows 8 App store.

Ribbon UI in Windows 8

Have you noticed the ribbon UI in th eMicrosoft Office 2010? According to the available sources, Microsoft is expanding this kind of UI to the next version of Windows. I personally do not like the Ribbon UI so much, but if that is what Microsoft going for, I probably should start liking it! But I am not alone. When some websites started reporting the alleged screenshots of Windows 8 ribbon UI, a lot of people have expressed that they are complex, cumbersome and not very intuitive. Let us see how the ribbon UI is going to look like in the final release of Windows 8, if it makes it to there.

I have been using Microsoft office for several years and was very comfortable and familiar with it's menu and navigation. But all of a sudden they threw away the classic menu and introduced the ribbon UI. It has been almost 2 years I am using the new version of Microsoft Office with the ribbon UI, but I am not yet comfortable using it to the many quick tasks I like to do in Office 2010.

I hope the Windows 8 Ribbon UI will come with some options to turn it off and allow us to use the classic navigation and menu.

Whether we all like it or not, Microsoft is going to try it in Windows 8.

In the Ribbon UI, all the menu options are spread on a ribbon like toolbar instead of an organized text menu. You can reach most of the options in the application with 1 or 2 clicks on the buttons in the ribbon.

Most users think ribbon UI is not attractive and adds lot of clutter to the UI. Many users are still comfortable with the old style menus with the familiar File, Edit, help menu items.

The Ribbon UI will probably make it to Windows 8 as a new feature, but I hope they will provide an option to disable it and use the classic menu by itself.

Modern Reader - The new built-in PDF reader for Windows 8

For most computer users, downloading Acrobat Reader is part of initial setup of the computer. Most software application vendors include Acrobat Reader in their product releases.

The scenario is going to change. Just like Internet Explorer became an essential piece of Windows, a PDF reader is also becoming part of Windows. According to the available but unreliable sources, Windows 8 will have a built-in PDF reader, which most people call it 'Modern Reader' currently. This will save you some time from installing Acrobat Reader on your computer. Modern Reader will feature Zomm in and out options, jump between sections, a back button to jump to previous spot etc. Also, Modern Reader supports side by side views. The name suggests it is just a reader, so you won't be able to edit PDF files using this tool. This is probably going to be a light weight document reader and you may need to install other third party software for advanced features.

Hard reset button

Hard reset! Does it sound familiar? Remember that small reset button on your electronic devices that let you reset everything to the factory defaults? That is where Microsoft is heading to. It looks like they want to shut everyone up by providing a magic button that wipes out everything that was added to clutter up your Windows 8 and thus avoid complaining about a slow computer. There is no clear information about how this is going to be implemented, but I think it will be probably a new tiny hardware button on a hidden place on the back of your computer to avoid someone pressing it accidentally resulting in losing all your data.

Hard reset button on the Windows 8 computer could be a useful feature, atleast for people like me. I like to completely wipe out my computer once in 2 years and do a fresh start by reinstalling only the software I want. The hardware reset button could the shortcut for this. By pressing this button, I could get everything reset and go back to the original Windows 8 installation in a matter of few minutes.

Best new feature in Windows 8: My PC Knows Me! Facial detection

Imagine you wake up in the morning, makes a cup of tea, walks to your computer and you computer identify your presence and wakes from sleep quickly to say "Good morning, John!"

Well, not exactly the same, but it is pretty close. That is what Microsoft offers with the feature "My PC Knows Me".

Microsoft is introducing facial recognition in Windows 8. Your computer will be equipped with hardware sensors supported by Windows 8. The hardware sensors can detect presence of people near the computer and also identify the person from the face using advanced facial detection algorithm. Your computer can automatically log you in if configured to use Facial detection and login.

Even the computer can switch the user user login when you walk out of your computer and your wife walks in. All you need to do is, configure multiple users to login using Face detection.

Face detection is a complex new feature in Windows 8. Microsoft has to address several issues including:

1. What happens when multiple people walk in to the computer at the same time
2. What if the second user walks in while you are actively working on
3. What if you wanted to keep your computer locked, but you accidentally walk in front of the computer to pick up a phone in front of your computer?

Some other features that are expected but not yet confirmed are:

3D support in Windows 8

Sterespoic 3D support is one of the earliest rumors on Windows 8. None of the leaked versions of Windows 8 or related documents confirm this. However, if Windows 8 really comes with the stereoscopic 3D support, it will be an interesting new feature.

Many electronic manufacturers including Televisions are switching to 3D versions. In fact, it is really hard to find a flat panel TV without 3D support. I recently purchased a 55-inch Sony Bravio TV. I was looking for a non-3D model, but I ended up buying a 3D model since I could not find a new model without 3D support. But one important thing with Sony TV is, you cannot watch 3D shows without buying an external 3D transmitter and 3D glasses. I was comfortable watching the 2D shows in the TV and did not bother to purchase the 3D transmitter and glasses.

I am not sure what will be the case with Windows 8 computers. Are they going to come with simple 3D support, but no 3D display until you connect your laptop to a 3D display system? Are we going to need separate 3D glasses? Or, will it come with built-in 3D glasses?

3D laptops of computers are going to get any attention only if they come with built-in 3D glasses. Otherwise, no computer engineer is going to buy 3D glasses and wear it before he open his computer.

Immersive browser - new compact browser in Windows 8

Windows 8 comes with a cool browser called "Immersive browser". This is a very compact version of the browser which shows very limited number of controls on the screen and looks very close to Google Chrome browser. Google Chrome is my favorite browser because it has a very cool UI offering maximum space for the web pages. Google Chrome have only limited number of controls on the screen, but has everything that we need to browse any website efficiently. Looks like Microsoft is going after this.

The new Immersive browser have back and forward buttons, address bar, favicon, history links and a refresh button - just what we need! This looks like a very compact browser.

Also, the screenshots show the navigation bar and the controls are moved to the bottom of the browser. I find it very convenient and the new location seem to be naturally fit for easy browsing.

History Vault: Keep your files safe in Windows 8

Many recent blogs hint at a new feature in Windows 8 called "History Vault". According to various sources, this feature is inspired from the "Time Machine" feature in Mac OS X. This new feature will allow you to have your Windows 8 backup your files automatically and will allow you to select and restore various versions of the files based on date and time stamp.

It is not clear where the backup will be kept. Some blogs indicate you will have the option to choose the internal hard drive, external storage devices or the cloud based storage for your file backup. If the files could be stored in external locations, then it will be a blessing for Windows users to save their data in case of any system crash. You will be able to restore individual or group of files and folders based on a selected time frame.

Windows 8 will support ARM Processors

Steve Ballmer indicated in a recent demonstration that Microsoft is planning to extend Windows to support ARM processors. In an official press release early this year, Microsoft announced the upcoming version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures on x86 and ARM architecture. Support for ARM processors will be a significant change in Windows 8. This will allow OEMs to install Windows 8 on small devices like netbook, smartphone and similar devices. Obviously, Windows running on small devices will have it's own limitation. The success of Windows 8 on ARM systems will depend on how well they can compete with the fast growing Android and iOS. The tech watchers are expecting that Microsoft will offer a good challenge to Android.

Many of the statements in the official press release indicates that the next version of Windows will be giving due importance for tablet based computer systems. Microsoft does want to turn a blind eye towards the threat from the iPads and Android tablets.

More Windows 8 new features

Some other new Windows 8 features widely discussed include, but not yet confirmed include:

- Windows 8 App Store
- 128 bit support in Windows 8

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including,, and many more.

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Author: Aamir shahzad09 May 2011 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Hello Tony sir

Thanks for sharing about windows 8 is very helpful for all.

Thanks & Regards

Aamir khan

Author: sss06 Jul 2011 Member Level: Silver   Points : 1

Hello MR Tony,

Thanks for giving information on windows 8 features, it is really exciting and helpful.

thanks regards,

Guest Author: Albert14 Nov 2011

A am afraid, that Windows 8 with Metro style UI is bad way of developlent and Metro will be second Riboon...

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