used with permission from HP Technology at Work
Ever wondered why you can download a song instantly to your smartphone but then have to wait hours, even days, to install new computer software in the office? With the new Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has broken the barrier between our professional and private worlds and produced an operating system that offers instant access to exactly the apps we need, both in and out of the office, at the touch of a fingertip.
Want to log in? Just swipe the screen. Enter your password? Touch the picture. You can do everything you want, instantly. No wonder Microsoft’s CEO Steven Ballmer has described 2012 as an “epic year”.
Every aspect of Windows 8 is intensely personal, offering a totally modern reworking of the traditional Windows OS, and combining your private and professional worlds, whether you use a tablet, laptop, desktop, all-in-one or server. It doesn’t matter what architecture you run, whether it’s Win8 x-86 or ARM – the new user interface is based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, and it’s used right across the range.
So what does it look like? Windows has finally embraced the touchcentric, single-focus model you’ll recognise from the Windows Phone or Apple’s iPad. The key message here is “personal”: it’s clean, friendly, modern and intuitive, and you’ll be able to switch effortlessly between all the things you need to do, whether you’re using it for professional or personal purposes. All you have to do is touch it.
You can use your favourite photo for your login – just touch it in your secure way and you’re logged on. And this takes you to the tile-based Start screen, or Home screen, where there are customisable tiles which you can shrink, enlarge and move around as you want, and link to your apps and desktop programs. These tiles are always connected, so you’ll always be able to update your information and content. To access the toolbar, you just swipe your finger up the right of the screen, and five icons, or “charms” appear, which represent all the essential things you can do with Windows: access the system and app-related functions, share and search. Want to access the more familiar Windows desktop environment? Simply touch a tile in the tile “mosaic”, and you’re there, so you can run your normal desktop apps. It’s all been designed to make your working experience easier, quicker and smoother.
Simple and intuitive
To make it easier for you to access your apps, you can do it directly from the Start screen, and if you want to install new ones, just touch the Windows App Store tile and you’re there. It’s simple to log in to the store using your Microsoft account. In fact, the whole process is not only simple but intuitive, described by Jensen Harris, Microsoft’s Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, as “intensely personal … fast and fluid, based on how people use PCs today”. Everything’s been optimised for touchscreen use. For a great viewing experience, run the apps full screen (“content not chrome”) and your entire screen will be there for the web page, or run them at the side of your screen so you can carry on working on something else.
Want to save files directly to SkyDrive? Install the MS SkyDrive cloud storage app. Need something for Xbox? Get the Xbox companion, which is a preview of Xbox Smart Glass, Microsoft’s response to Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii U. You’ll be able to connect to social networks and services, upload photos from Facebook, Flickr and your other favourite social media platforms. There are hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from.
Protected from the start
When you use the new Windows 8 operating system, you’ll be using “one of the most secure operating systems on the planet”. Microsoft has developed new levels of security features. You’ll be protected against malware attacks during the booting up process by the Secure Boot feature because your operating system is digitally signed – if anything that is not signed tries to modify the process, the UEFI-based firmware and the operating system will undo the change. And you can go online without worrying about your Internet Explorer being infected by viruses because Windows 8 has an anti-virus program called SmartScreen, which protects on every network download, including Windows Server 2012. There’s no need to download them – these security features are enabled on Windows 8 right from the start.
It’s been three years since Windows 7 was launched in 2009 and you’ll see a huge difference in Windows 8. It’s beautiful, it breaks down barriers between our worlds, it’s intuitive. You just have to touch it.