Microsoft demoed the Windows 8 operating system publicly for the first time yesterday on the Build Conference. And while that presentation was concentrating on developing applications and compatible hardware for the operating system, end users were able to get a good sneak peek of things to come as well. Especially so considering that Microsoft made available a preview version of the operating system for everyone right after the show (see Windows 8 Download).
I have downloaded and installed Windows 8 on my Acer laptop which is powered by an Intel U500 1.4 GHz cpu and four Gigabytes of RAM.
In this article I'm going to concentrate on five aspects or things of Windows 8 that I really like. In another article later today, I will write about five things that I do not like.
Lower Memory Footprint
Microsoft has reduced the memory footprint of the operating system significantly. The developer preview of Windows 8 as it was released yesterday sits at about 281 Megabyte and 29 processes after start and idle. Windows 7 on the other hand today with service pack 1 installed sits at 404 Megabytes and 32 processes. Older and underpowered hardware like my Acer laptop benefit the most from this. ARM systems will benefit from this as well considerably.
Faster Boot Times
I tested the boot time on my laptop after installing Windows 8 and have to say that it is speedy. I would not say it is super fast, but definitely faster than the time it takes to boot for my Windows 7 desktop cpu that is powered by one of the fastest SSD drives on the market. I'm certain that Windows 8 on that desktop cpu would almost feel like instant on, and that it would probably take longer for the BIOS to post than for the operating system to load.
I do not use the ribbon interface at all, and I have to thank Microsoft for giving me the option to minimize the ribbon and use the Quick Access Bar instead. I have not really found a way to customize that bar on the other hand. There seem to be six functions available only: New Folder, Properties, Rename, Undo, Redo, Delete.
The new file copy dialog is excellent. It can be used to see realtime data and to pause and resume copy jobs.
Refreshing, Resetting Windows 8
Microsoft has integrated a refresh and reset option into Windows 8. Refresh basically restores the PC's settings without touching the user's files, personalizations and apps that have been installed from Windows Store.
Reset on the other hand has been designed to remove all personalizations from the PC. This basically returns the operating system to the state right after installation. All personalizations and files will be removed.
Refresh and Reset are part of the Windows Control Panel. They can be used by loading the full Control Panel on the Windows desktop and selecting Review your computer's status under System and Security.
Windows Live Cloud
Windows 8 users can create local account or use a Windows Live account to log into the operating system. If they use their Live account they benefit from synchronization features, for instance by having access to all their metro-style apps on all PCs that they log in. The operating system will synchronize personalization features so that the desktop looks the same on every PC the user logs in.
I have to admit that I played around with the operating system for about an hour until now. This basically means that there may be more features lurking around that I have not discovered yet. Plus, the developer preview does not contain all the features of the final Windows 8 version.
Have you had a chance to play around with Windows 8? If so, what is your impression?