What’s really “better” about Windows 8?
What are the really “better” features about Windows 8? Everyone is aware of the controversial ‘start menu’ change from Windows 7. The new love or hate live tile’ tattoos’ or ‘modern UI’ (some even still call it ‘Metro’) seems to be its Achilles heel.
Microsoft went from Windows Vista (which many seemed to hate), to the new Windows 7 (which many seem to love), yet on the face of it, just firing up & comparing Vista with 7, you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference (until you looked more deeply or actually felt what was performing under the hood). But just what is under the hood that has actually (really) been improved in Windows 8?
Windows Explorer got a new name and a new look in Windows 8. Now called ‘File Explorer’ it basically now has a ribbon style toolbar (similar to the one in Office 2010). A very useful “Up” button within this, lets you move up one folder within the directory with just a single click. Microsoft removed this ‘Up’ button in Vista and left it completely out of Windows 7. But it’s now welcome back in Windows 8!
“Copy” is far superior to Windows 7. It really works well. Even if you copy simultaneously multiple files, Windows 8’s process quantifies them & gives a visual record of how much remains, & how fast the copy is actually moving. You can even pause any individual copy process within this without actually aborting it, mid cycle! Because copying & pasting is such a major feature & requirement within any operating system, Windows 7 users are missing out on this superior feature big time. In Windows 7, the Copy/paste is by comparison extremely slow & buggy, because with Windows 7 each file gets copied bit by bit, & copying several big files to the same area can take hours because the process interrupts access for one copy/paste task with a disk access for another copy/paste task, something that Windows 8 just doesn’t suffer from.
The Windows 8 Task Manager is superb & has lots of features that advanced users might like. Windows 7’s Task Manager simply isn’t as good. But Windows 8 tells you exactly which programs run automatically every time you start Windows or Internet Explorer & even gives you the tools to manage, or delete them.
Forget the start menu & tiles (for a minute). With Windows 7 you would have to add third party programs to simply be able to achieve any of the same functionality improvements listed above. You have to add a Security or Anti-Virus program to Windows 7. This is not necessary in Windows 8. Everything is built in. In fact the only thing worth adding to Windows 8 is a third party PDF reader (this is simply because the one that is already built in opens natively in the Modern UI, not the desktop, so it is full screen only). Naturally you might consider adding some kind of Office, but even that is not essential since Windows 8 is cloud orientated, & has SkyDrive integrated.
Windows 8’s Parental Controls are also an absolute must in this era of social media & other potential pitfalls for unsuspecting children. Chances are you do not have this configured on your main computer or your child’s personal laptop. If you don’t, you likely have no idea what sites they are visiting or the strangers they might be forming relationships on the web. Windows 8’s built in back up utility is superior to Windows 7’s. Enable ‘File History’ & your files are regularly & automatically backed up to the location of your choosing.
These are just a few noticeable under the hood improvements (there are many more including performance: Faster boot times, more efficient memory management, vastly improved networking, power consumption optimisations (everything that counts on portable devices). Functionality: detailed and (way more) visually pleasing Task Manager, Reset and Refresh PC options for less tech savvy folks who just want to reset their PC to factory defaults, File History (automated backup), Storage Spaces (user friendly JBOD with data security mechanics), support for mounting ISOs, coexisting dual interface with ability to completely ignore one or the other (with a little bit of tweaking), SkyDrive integration, wider language pack support for people who don’t necessarily speak English. Price to features ratio – Windows 8 Pro has all of the Windows 7 Ultimate’s features at half the price).
Another new technology incorporated in Windows 8 is the ability to resume the machine in multiple phases especially in laptops or computers that have multiple core processors by simultaneously using all the cores along with reading and decompressing the contents of the hibernation file. This is one of the reasons Windows 8 is so fast to boot or shut down.
Windows 8 on its advent did not get the response as expected. Actually it got mixed responses because of a different Start screen, the concept of charms bar were all new to the users of most of the world. Still a person cannot ignore the features that came with it, which are not just features but a gift over & above what is already good in Windows 7.
To match the great real improvements listed above & enable them in Windows 7, you would have to add at least three to four third party programs to the operating system. I find adding any third party apps an evil in itself. You have to rely on the third party vendor for security & support & compatibility too. Remember you’re effectively bolting on someone elses ‘alloy wheels’. It becomes an’ unoriginal’ process & interferes with the main engine (for want of a better analogy). You can’t add or run the new store apps, go true touchscreen or enjoy multi monitor support (with desktop & modern UI’s separated between screens). You can of course, simply add a single third party app to Windows 8 that makes it behave exactly like Windows 7. So what the hell is all the fuss about? Microsoft will be updating Windows 8 pretty soon with Windows Blue. Will they be adding the above features to Windows 7? I doubt it.
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