This article focuses on new features that are included with the new Windows 8 operating system.
- Secure Boot: This is one of the more controversial features of the new operating system especially for Linux users who dual boot their system. This feature is only available on Windows 8 certified computers. The way the UEFI secure boot feature works is that it only allows signed operating systems to boot, this prevents unauthorized code from loading which could contain malware.
- Faster Booting: Windows 8 boots faster because it uses a technique of partially hibernating the system kernel when the computer is shut down. When the system is booted, the ‘memory state’ of the previous session gets reinitialized more quickly.
- Modern UI: The most obvious new feature of Windows 8 is the new user interface. It’s the first major update of the Windows GUI since Windows 95, which introduced the Start menu. The "Modern UI" (formerly known as "Metro"), is designed to be Window's next generation user interface to work with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
- New security features: Windows 8 includes several new built-in security features, such as:
- Secure boot which was talked about earlier.
- Windows Defender which is the built-in anti-malware protection technology which is based on Microsoft Security Essentials.
- SmartScreen which is designed to help prevent the execution of unknown code.
- Mounting ISO Images: In Windows 7 a feature was added that allowed ISO files to be burned to optical media discs without using a 3rd party utility. Windows 8 added a new feature that allows ISO files to be mounted on the system so the files in the media can be access without the use of a 3rd party utility.
- Internet Explorer 10: This is the most recent version of the Internet Explorer browser, with the latest features and security enhancements. Its important to note that there two interfaces for this browser, one that supports the Modern UI and the other supports the traditional Windows desktop UI.
- New repair and recovery features: Windows 8 includes several new tools and features to repair the OS if something happens. These new features include: the Advanced Startup, Refresh your PC Settings, and the Remove Everything and reinstall Windows options.
- The Advanced Startup menu allows you to access diagnostic and repair functions.
- The Refresh and Reset option allow the re-installation Windows without requiring the use of the original installation media. Both operations will remove all installed desktop applications from the system.
- Windows Recovery Drive: If your PC is having problems a USB recovery drive can help you troubleshoot and fix issues even if the PC won't start properly.
- Syncing Settings: When you sign in to your computer with your Microsoft account, it will automatically log you into any Windows services that you use, it will also upload your PC settings (if enabled) so that you can share them across devices.
- Login Screen: Windows 8 supports a new Login Screen that is displayed after Windows loads or after someone logs out of their account.
- Windows Notifications: If a native Windows 8 application wants to alert you to a specific event such as getting an email, calendar event, etc. It will generally display an update in the live tile or notification in the upper right corner of the screen.
- Improved Searching: As soon as you go to the Start screen you can begin typing and it will find applications, settings, documents, or other items that match your keywords.
- Windows Store: The Windows Store offers a central location to download and purchase new Windows 8 native apps.
- File History: automatically creates incremental backups of files stored in the Libraries and user-specified folders to an external storage device.
- Hyper-V (only supported by Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise editions): A virtualization technology that allows for the creation of virtualized hardware to run different operating systems and applications. This feature used to only be available on the Windows Server platform.
- Storage Spaces: a storage virtualization technology which allows storage across multiple physical drives to act as one larger logical volume(s). Spaces are organized within a storage pool (e.g. a collection of physical disks).
- Windows to Go (only supported by Windows 8 Enterprise edition): allows users to create a bootable USB Flash drive with Windows 8 in it, including the user's programs, settings, and files.
- Improved Task Manager (more advanced). If you want to know what your system is doing, the new task manager displays more information in several new ways.
- Windows Explorer (also now called the File Explorer), and the improved file operation (copy, move, delete) dialog box. The new file operations dialog gives you a performance graph on how well the file transfer is performing.
- The WinKey+X administration menu, gives you quick access to several powerful administration tools.