There have been many people in the IT community that claim there is little new on the table with Windows 8 besides its Metro interface. For users that don’t like Metro, they feel it just isn’t worth the upgrade for Windows 8.
In order to refute this claim, I’ve decided to talk about just a few things in Windows 8 that have improved from 7 or that 7 couldn’t even do at all. The features I mention all have to do with desktop mode, not Metro. I will leave Metro out of this article since I’m aiming it at naysayers that believe Windows 8 only has “Metro” to offer.
Fast Boot Experience
In Windows 8 the kernel session is now hibernated instead of completely closed out. What this means for users is that RAM contents are saved to your hard drive and when your reboot they are quickly loaded back up. How fast this really looks like will depend a lot on hardware, but generally expect about five times quicker of a boot experience than offered by Windows 7.
Keeping Up To Date With Alerts
Even the lock screen that you boot into will provide customized apps that can show important details such as emails, your schedule, RSS feeds, and other data for keeping you up to date. This means you get a few of the things you care about without having to launch any actual programs in Metro or the desktop.
Logging In Without Passwords
In Windows 8 you can point the OS to a picture that you’d like to use and then perform a series of gestures on the picture. Windows 8 will remember these gestures and to log in you simply repeat them, no password needed. Of course if you don’t like this concept, good old passwords are still more than useable.
Working With Ease
In Windows 8 you now have the ribbon-style interface in Windows 8 Explorer which makes it easy to find options by putting them in easy reach. The Ribbon interface can also be customized to with its Quick Access toolbar to add other shortcuts you might need.
Spotting Resource Hogs
Task Manager in Windows 8 includes an app history feature which can show you exactly what programs are hogging all your network bandwidth, CPU time, Hard Drive, and RAM.
Mount ISO files
In a ‘wish list’ article I wrote recently I mentioned it would be nice if Windows added mounting of ISO files. I was corrected by a viewer that this had in fact been added to Windows 8 and I just hadn’t encountered it yet. This is extremely useful and basically means you don’t have to burn your ISO disc image to run it, something than OSX and Linux have done for a while. For power users this is very handy.
Pause File Copies In Progress
Once you start a lengthy file copy operation you have to wait until it is finished, right? Well with Windows 8 you actually can pause the process. This feature may not be necessary most of the time but for larger file copies it might come in handy.
Refreshing Your PC
You could always reinstall Windows, but in Windows 8 you can ‘refresh’ your PC as well. This essentially recreates Windows but requires no disk, no complex options, and it doesn’t even take very long. Unfortunately, at the moment it only keeps your installed apps and so you will still need to back up your desktop applications.
Hyper-V’s Role in Virtualization
If you really need a feature from another OS that Windows 8 just can’t do, you can always use Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization platform. Although virtual machines have existed for a long time, the Hyper-V client takes advantage of cutting edge technology to improve this process greatly over what you might experience with Virtual PC or other similar programs.
Windows 8 is still not even out to market and all of these features exist. More features will likely arrive with the Beta, and so Windows 8 is clearly looking better as a replacement to Windows 7. Yes, Metro is a key component of Windows 8, but it certainly isn’t the only feature it has to offer.