Microsoft's notorious Patch Tuesday has been replaced by Update Tuesday, at least for Wednesday, Oct 10, as the company makes sweeping alterations to Windows 8 and its core apps.
This update to Windows 8 Release to Manufacturing targets to improve what was already a solid performance in Windows 8. In the blog post announcing the update, Windows President Steve Sinofsky said that the update would be seamlessly available for all Windows 8 machines when they boot up on October 26 and thereafter. "By developing better test automation and test coverage tools we are happy to say that Windows 8 will be totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability," he wrote.
Basically, this is a strong indication that Microsoft has learned the valuable lesson of releasing unobtrusive but important updates when they're ready, instead of saving them for larger, less frequently issued service packs. It does not necessarily mean that a Service Pack update couldn't be in the pipeline for Windows 8 in the future, but this is definitely an indicator of a shift in how Microsoft gets things done.
Techies and ordinary computer users are all waiting for new improvement and system changes for Windows from 7 to 8. Both are powerful Windows versions, but there are at least seven changes between the two, especially with the interface.
1. Desktop and Shell: Windows 8 employs a new user interface based on Microsoft's Metro design language. The environment features a new tile-based Start screen very similar to Windows Phone. A vertical toolbar known as the charms bar provides access to system and app-related functions such as search, sharing, device management, settings, and Start button.
2. Windows Store Apps: Windows 8 will introduce a new style of application which provides fast and fluid experience, referring to the optimisation for touchscreen environments. It can also provide notifications and a live tile on the Start screen for dynamic content.
3. Integration with online services: Windows 8 provides heavier integration with Microsoft's online services. Users can now log in using a Microsoft account, formally called a Windows Live ID. This allows various user settings to be synchronised between multiple computers. It accesses Windows SkyDrive cloud storage services as well and also allows apps to be saved directly to SkyDrive. Windows 8 integrates with Xbox Live including Xbox branded apps for games, music and video, and the SmartGlass app which can serve as a companion for content on an Xbox 360 video game console.
4. Hybrid Boot uses hibernation technology to allow faster start up times by saving the Windows core's memory to the hard disk and reloading it upon boot.
5. Windows To GO allows Windows 8 Enterprise to boot and run from a bootable USB device such as a flash drive. Two new recovery functions are included: Refresh and Reset. Refresh restores all Windows files to their original state while keeping setting, files, and apps, while reset takes the computer back to factory default condition.
6. USB 3.0 is now supported natively.
7. Other features include Internet Explorer 10 which will be both a desktop program and touch-optimized app. File Explorer includes a ribbon and has its file operation progress dialog updated to provide more detailed statistics, the ability to pause file transfer and improvements in the ability to manage conflicts when copying files.
Removed features in Windows 8 are the following:
1. The start menu has been removed in favour of a full screen interface called the Start Screen.
2. The Aero Glass theme which has been featured in Windows Vista and Windows 7 has been removed in favour of a Metro-style theme.
3. Microsoft Gadgets which has been featured in Windows Vista and Windows 7 has been removed in Windows 8.
4. The command bar is no longer present and has been replaced by new ribbon.
5. Windows Media Center will no longer be included by default in any version of Windows 8, but will be available as an add-on for some SKUs.
6. The Parental Controls feature present in earlier versions of Windows has been removed and replaced by the Family Safety feature.
7. The Blue Screen of Death no longer shows as much technical information about the error that caused the computer to stop.
Windows 8 system requirements are slightly higher than Windows 7 and for laptop devices, owners should check their manufacturers about the manual ways to update to Windows 8.
Windows 8 is best maximised for tablets, convertibles and any similar computing devices with touch capacity to avail of the touch features of Windows 8.
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