Several Windows 8 screenshots have leaked in the past, but they never revealed any new features of the upcoming Microsoft operating system. Some may have shown minor user interface changes, like the option to enable reboot after updates have been download and installed, but in general, nothing spectacular was shown.
This changed today with the leak of three screenshots on a Chinese Windows 7 website. What are those leaked screenshots showing?
The first Windows 8 screenshot shows the System Tray area of the taskbar. Notice the profile picture on the right of the tray icons? This icon indicates the logged in user. It is likely that it will load a user profile page of some sort when clicked on, maybe even offer fast user-switching capabilities. Interesting in this regard is the ability to log in with Windows Live ID credentials. It is not clear yet if those are somehow stored locally, or if an Internet connection is required to log into the operating system.
Linking the Windows Live ID could hint at additional features that are related to backups and online storage. Imagine how cool it would be to have all your profile data in the cloud if you want it, so that you could log into any other windows 8 operating system in the world. Windows 8 would pull the data from the cloud and you could use your desktop and tools. While this may or not be included, there will certainly be options to protect systems if it is implemented.
The second screenshot shows a window where user profile icons can be selected. Take a look at the second and third, notice that they are videos? It appears to be possible to use video avatars in Windows 8.
The last screenshot shows the taskbar again, this time during a driver installation. Notice the progress bar in the background of the icon? It is very similar to the progress bar that is displayed when files are moved or copied in Windows 7. It is likely that Windows 8 will show progress bars for all kind of installations and activities.
The article mentions other features. Windows 8 will feature a hard reset option to reset the operating system to factory default settings in two minutes. The Windows 8 installation will use considerably less time. The process has been reduced by the factor 2.5, or from 25 minutes to 8 minutes on Microsoft's test system (with 24 GB ram, 2TB hard drive, 8-core cpu).
Another addition is the Windows 8 app store which will be directly accessible in the operating system.
The faster installation time could be a blessing, provided that it does not only install a thin client but the full operating system.
Your take on Windows 8 so far? Let me know in the comments.
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