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Windows 8

Microsoft’s October 26, 2012 launch of Windows 8, the latest version of its Windows operating system, is part of the wide array of releases and upgrades to which we referred last month in the article about the Microsoft product road map.

What exactly are some of the major changes in Windows 8 that will be of interest to businesses? Thanks to the pre-release versions, and the testing that has now been done on the final, released-to-manufacturers software, the answers have been finalized.

Windows 8 supports touch

Swipes and pinches on a touchscreen or touchpad equipped laptop or desktop will generate related actions from Windows 8. Moving between windows, tiles, and bringing forth the “charm bar” can all occur with the touch of a finger. Standard, non-touch computers will have mouse-generated functionalities that approximate the touch actions.


New User Interface

Along with touch, the UI presents real-time dashboard-like information on files, apps, contacts, and activities in a new graphical layout. Control panel-like functions are reorganized into logical groupings. And the Windows 8 layout will extend into Office 2013 applications.

Improved Security

Changes at the kernel level and in the memory management system eliminate predictable memory usage. Downloaded applications and IE tabs are “isolated”, with fewer inherited system privileges to exploit, and Bitlocker disk encryption is faster.

Flash built in to IE 10

Microsoft has worked with Adobe to limit Flash’s inherent vulnerabilities and to manage updates directly through the Windows Updater function.

Performance and Speed

Windows 8 will work on x86 devices that meet minimum configuration requirements; Windows RT is the ARM-device version (tablets, mostly). Windows 8 versions can be upgrades to existing hardware; RT is only available on new devices.

Early benchmark testing has Windows 8 starting up and shutting down almost twice as fast as Windows 7 on newer hardware. Older hardware configurations showed even greater differences. As always with benchmark testing, actual results in the field will vary.

Surface Tablets

Microsoft’s first Tablet computer shares the October 26th premier date. The Surface RT, is custom designed specifically to compete with Apple’s iPad, and runs Windows 8 RT. We are so excited to get our hands on this new unit that we were one of the first in the country to pre-order one, and will be doing demos of the new platform and interface with clients as soon as we get the unit in and test it.

Conclusion, Should you buy?

Even with all the new features and benefits, and with the disclaimer that this is being written from a Windows 8 powered laptop, Sound Technology Services is definitively recommending against any upgrade to Windows 8 for any business user, at least initially. The primary reason being the new interface is so significantly focused on touch based interaction, it remains to be seen if productivity workers sitting at desks all day with desktop computers and multiple monitors can work efficiently with this new interface using only a keyboard and mouse. When there is a larger body of experience from business users with regard to the upgrade process, security, and , most importantly, the learning curve and usability of the new user-interface in a business setting, we will report back on the pluses and minuses of Windows 8 for business. In the interim, clients can remain comfortable with Windows 7 – it will remain supported by Microsoft for many years to come, and still take advantage of the powerful new touch screen tablet devices hitting the market.

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