More Windows 8 Features You Should Know About

When developing Windows 8, Microsoft made changes to the user interface in an apparent bet that most of its customers will be foregoing their traditional laptops and desktops in favor of tablets. This is probably a valid prediction for home users, but for businesses planning to stick with keyboards and mice for a while, there may be more user training than with Windows 7.

Continuing from the previous post, here are a few more topics and features that jumped out at me as I got acquainted with Windows 8.

  1. Client-Side Hyper-V: Installing Hyper-V is a matter of “turning it on” via the control panel. As with earlier iterations of Hyper-V, you have to have a 64-bit hardware platform to use client-side Hyper-V. You also have to have at least 4GB of RAM, and fairly modern CPU architecture (it’s not enough anymore to have Hardware Assisted Virtualization; you also need processors that support Second Level Address Translation, or SLAT). If you don’t meet those requirements, it looks like you’ll still be able to run Virtual PC.
  2. Windows-to-Go: Windows-to-Go provides for booting a Windows 8 image (e.g., a corporate standard desktop) from a USB hard drive or flash drive. When you boot Windows-to-Go, you have a full-functioned enterprise client, capable of domain membership and of being administered by Group Policy. It does require that the drive have 32GB as a minimum, and you have to build the drive on a system running Windows 8 Enterprise edition.
  3. Explorer Ribbon: Microsoft has extended the ribbon concept to Windows Explorer (see Figure 4). (Initially the ribbon is collapsed, so you have to expand it.) This change isn’t just window dressing: the Explorer ribbon is very useful, and once you’ve become accustomed to it, it makes a lot of common file-management operations easier and faster than they were with the “old” Windows Explorer.
  4. New Group Policies: It does not appear that the Group Policy processing model or architecture has changed in any major way since the Windows 7-slash-Server 2008 changes. You’ll see a heightened awareness of “costed networks” such as 3G and 4G, permitting you to fine-tune how Windows 8 spends your bandwidth dollars. There are settings for configuring the Windows-to-Go environment. Other new policies help you configure Metro-style apps. There’s a collection of policies related to BitLocker, and the new “Secured Boot” feature. We also see a handful of new user interface tweaks.

As you can see Windows 8 brings a number of welcome technical improvements – some nice speed improvements (even in beta), Hyper-V for the client, Secure Boot, Windows-to-Go, and so on – but whether the schizoid character of this operating system (tablet vs. laptop, Metro vs. desktop, immersive vs. windowed, cloud-based vs. intranet-based) is successful is sure to become a case study for operating system designers – and marketers – of the future.

Reprinted from Top Eight Features of Windows 8 Client

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