Windows 8 – putting you at the centre of a new computing experience

By Cindy du Toit, Microsoft specialist at Drive Control Corporation (DCC)

Now that the Windows 8 operating system is available – it was released to manufacturing in August 2012, and for general use at the end of October 2012 — the question is what benefits will make it worth the consumer’s while to upgrade. All new notebooks from major distributors are already being shipped with Windows 8, there are reports of four million upgrades sold worldwide within three days of its release, and 40 million licences (mostly OEMs) bought in the first month. As the world becomes increasingly mobile, it seems this Operating System (OS), designed for mobile and punted as signalling “a revolution in the way people use computers” has a lot to offer.

The Metro user interface is totally new with a dynamically updating grid of tiles representing applications and a Charms Bar (swipe it in from the right of the screen) with settings, search and shortcuts. While a new interface may be an immediate pain point for some, there’s a lot to be said for moving out of your comfort zone. While this OS is made for PC and mobile devices, it’s tailored for touchscreen devices. And it comes with a host of benefits for the fast evolving personal and business computing arenas.

Windows 8 gives you the ability to synchronise applications and setting between multiple devices e.g., your PC, laptop, tablet, smart phone or select which settings you want to sync. And it’s all cloud connected: the moment you sign in with your Microsoft account, your personalised settings are loaded, including Wi-Fi, email, calendar, and people applications, and they stay in sync across all your devices. SkyDrive lets you get access to your files, wherever you are.

Sharing information is also super simple with Tap and Do. It lets you tap two mobile devices together if they have Near Field Communications (NFC) to share information. Tap and Setup lets you tap wireless devices, like keyboards, mice, headphones, and speakers, against your PC to connect them, eliminating complicated setups.

Windows 8 also has built in support for 3G and 4G, so connecting to a cellular network is as easy as connecting to a wireless network. As for business users, features like Windows To Go lets users carry their Windows with them – booting and running from USB flash drives or external hard drives. Enhancements have also been made to BitLocker and AppLocker so data is kept safe while worker productivity remains high.

Windows 8 also introduces Internet Explorer 10. Internet Explorer 10 is fast and comes in two flavours – one for a desktop and another for touch screen devices. There is also a Windows store, which industry watchers expect will grow rapidly with the release of Windows 8.

As to the features of Windows 8 versus Windows 8 Pro, both come with the start screen with live tiles, the ability to personalise applications (pin your favourite apps), a picture password option, access to the Windows Store, and the ability to sync across devices. Windows Pro additionally has BitLocker, which lets you encrypt your entire drive to help protect you against loss and theft, Advanced Backup that allows you to backup your data to another drive, DVD or network location and Remote Desktop; among others.

Should you upgrade now? There’s a lot to be said for Windows 8. Major distributors now have Windows 8 in stock, so chat to your Microsoft specialist about what you need.

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Windows 8 – putting you at the centre of a new computing experience