Windows 8: Introduction to Key Features


Windows 8 was released on October 26, 2012. Offering a plethora of new features, Windows 8 redefines the core operating system that created Microsoft’s fortunes. in this article, we take a look at the different versions of Windows 8 and some of the added or removed features in Windows that you may have been used to in previous Windows releases.


Windows 8

Available Versions

There are 4 new distinct versions of Windows 8 that are available:

  • Windows 8 (also known as “Core”)

  • Windows 8 Pro

  • Windows 8 Enterprise

  • Windows RT

Windows 8 Basic is the version of Windows which is targeted for home consumers, it is analogous to the Windows 7 Home version that was marketed to the casual home user.

Windows 8 Pro is designed for the heavy computer user and business user. this version is similar to Windows 7 professional or ultimate, and allows users to use advanced tools such as file encryption, remote desktop, the ability to connect to Windows server domains and more.

Windows 8 Enterprise is designed for businesses, particularly the IT organisations within a business, and contains tools which allow the IT organisation to manage their Windows 8 desktops including network file services.

Windows RT is a special version of Windows which was designed to run on portable devices with ARM-based processors such as tablet computers. Windows RT comes preinstalled on these devices along with touch optimised versions of Microsoft Office applications: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft OneNote.

Unlike its bigger brothers, this version of Windows does not allow the user to run any existing Windows application software that the user may have installed previously in earlier versions of Windows. It is noteworthy to mention, that the Windows RT version devices are not able to connect to Windows domains.

Key New Features in Windows 8

    Windows App Store

    Apple was the first to Standardise the App Store, followed by Google with Google Play. Now Microsoft is following suit with the Windows App Store, integrated into Windows 8.

    The Start Menu

    In Windows 8, the Start Menu has been done away with — replaced with the Metro UI. The Metro UI is the new touchscreen friendly interface that was designed to allow tablet, phone and other portable devices quick and easy access to Windows Apps and other functionality.

    For those users who long for the Start Menu, it will be possible to replace the Metro UI with “RetroUI” a program made by a company called Thinix. RetroUI gives users the capability to bring the Start Menu back to the desktop and to terminate or disable the Metro UI interface. RetroUI is available for $4.95 for a single PC license and $9.95 for up to 3 computers. It could be just what you are looking for if you still want to use the Windows 7 look and feel.

    User Login

    The user login process has changed so that gestures can be used when the home screen has been locked. After 5 wrong attempts than the system will prompt the user to enter a text password.


    Windows 8 Enhancements

    Microsoft Account Integration

    Similar to Apple IOS devices or android devices running Google centric accounts, Windows 8 features integrated accounts with the main Microsoft service types:

    • Xbox (Live, Music, Video)

    • SkyDrive

    • Messenger

    Multi-Monitor Support

    in previous iterations of Windows, it was possible to have multiple monitors but only the primary monitor would show the task-bar. In Windows 8, each monitor has its own independent task-bar.

    Internet Explorer 10

    Internet Explorer 10 is the new browser version from Microsoft that is specifically optimised for Windows 8. As with previous versions of Internet Explorer, flash video is still supported.

    Task Manager

    Included to Windows 8 is a newly revamped, and restyled Task Manager, featuring a graphical colorised display called the “Heat Map”, of all processes which are competing for resources.


Windows 8 upgrades are available from your local retailer, so you do not need to buy a new computer, in order to try out Windows 8. There are also many additional features not described in this summary that you may wish to check out. Whether you choose to upgrade your existing Windows or purchase a new device, tablet or desktop computer, be aware that Windows 8 is out there, and Microsoft is hoping it will be your new operating system of choice.

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