• All things about Windows 8: Windows 8 Release Date, Editions, Features, Prices

    Posted on August 23rd, 2012 David Brooks | No comments

    Windows 8 logoAfter long time of waiting and experiencing various versions, we finally welcomed the official announcement of the release and shipment availability of Windows 8. As an operating system for use on personal computers, Windows 8 could be applied to home and business desktops, laptops, tablets, and home theater PCs. It is part of the Windows NT family of operating systems and succeeds Windows 7.

    According to the Windows Design Team, Windows 8 has been “reimagined from the chipset to the user experience,” whereas Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line. Windows 8 is reported to feature a new user interface based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, similar to that in Windows Phone. Also, Microsoft announced that the new OS would remove some old features of Windows OS line and add some new features. What indeed the Windows 8 would bring to the world then? Let’s just get a brief summary for Windows 8.

    Release date

    Windows 8 was first announced in January 2011 at Consumer Electronics Show. During its development and test phases, Microsoft released three pre-release versions: Developer Preview version (September 13, 2011), Consumer Preview version (February 29, 2012), and Release Preview version (May 31, 2012). On August 1, 2012, Windows 8 graduated from the development stage and was released to manufacturing. Windows 8 is slated for general availability on October 26, 2012.

    Editions

    Windows 8 is available in four major editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows RT. The first three have almost the same hardware requirements as that of Windows 7. The latter, however, runs on tablet computers with ARM architecture and has different hardware requirements. The other editions are not available in retail. The new Windows RT edition will only be available preinstalled by OEMs on ARM-based devices while the Enterprise edition will only be available through volume licensing. Hardware vendors willing to receive Microsoft’s certification for such devices need to adhere to a list of certification requirements.

    Features

    Metro
    Based on Microsoft’s Metro design language, Metro UI is by far the biggest change in Windows 8, and can be the most confusing to use at first—especially for desktop users. The Metro environment features a new tile-based Start screen similar to that of the Windows Phone operating system. Each tile represents an application, and can display relevant information such as the number of unread messages for an e-mail application or the current temperature on a weather application. These applications run in full-screen or in docked modes, and are able to share information between each other using “contracts”. They will be available only through Windows Store. Apps in the new interface are developed with the new Windows Runtime platform using various programming languages, including C++, Visual Basic, C#, and HTML with JavaScript code-behind.

    The traditional desktop environment for running desktop applications is accessed via a tile on the new Start screen. The Start button has been removed from the taskbar in favor of a Start button on the new charm bar, as well as a hotspot in the bottom-left corner. Both open the new Start screen, which replaces the Start menu.

    Windows 8 start screen

    Applications developed for this new environment were previously referred to as “Metro-style apps” in development materials, connecting it to Windows 8′s use of an interface following the Metro design language as its primary desktop. However, reports surfaced that due to potential trademark issues with the German company Metro AG, Microsoft officials had begun to advise its Windows developers to stop using the term. A Microsoft spokesperson however, denied these reports and stated that the use of the term “Metro” to describe these apps was merely a codename that would be phased out. Following these reports, Microsoft started using “Modern UI Style” to refer to its tile-based interface and design language.

    PowerShell 3.0

    PowerShell is Microsoft’s strategic task automation platform and a core component of the overall management framework for Windows. Version 3 has been in beta for some time but the final version is included with Windows 8 (and Windows Server 2012 which has also been released to manufacturing).

    Other features

    * Internet Explorer 10 is included as both desktop program and as a touch-optimized app. The latter does not support plugins or ActiveX components, but includes a version of Adobe Flash Player that is optimized for touch and low power usage and works only on sites included on a whitelist.

    * It is now possible to log into Windows using a Microsoft account (formerly known as a Windows Live ID). This will allow the user’s profile and settings to be synchronized over the Internet and accessible from other computers running Windows 8, as well as integration with SkyDrive.

    * Windows Store will be the only method of purchasing and downloading Metro-style apps, as well as advertising desktop apps. Metro-style apps are installed from the Windows Store, or in the form of a Line Of Business app on devices joined in a network domain.

    * Two new authentication methods have been added: picture password, which allows users to log in by drawing three gestures in different places on a picture, and PIN log in, which allows users to authenticate using a four digit pin.

    * File Explorer will include a ribbon toolbar, and have its file operation progress dialog updated to provide more detailed statistics, the ability to pause file transfers, and improvements in the ability to manage conflicts when copying files.

    * Hybrid Boot will use hibernation technology to allow faster startup times by saving the Windows core’s memory to the hard disk and reloading it upon boot.

    * Windows To Go will allow 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 settings, files, and apps, while reset takes the computer back to factory default condition.

    * USB 3.0 is now supported natively.

    * A new lock screen displays a clock and notifications while the computer is locked.

    * Task Manager has been redesigned.

    * Xbox Live integration (including Xbox Live Arcade, Xbox SmartGlass, Xbox Music, and Xbox Video).

    * Storage Spaces will allow users to combine different sized hard disks into virtual drives and specify mirroring, parity, or no redundancy on a folder-by-folder basis.

    * Family Safety is intended to allow parents to protect their children on the Internet, as well as monitor and control their PC and Internet activities and usage.

    * Windows Defender now has anti-virus capabilities, similar to those of Microsoft Security Essentials. It is intended to replace the Security Essentials package and function as the default anti-virus program.

    Windows 8

    Price

    Microsoft recently started accepting registrations for Windows 8 upgrades. Those who purchased a PC any time after June 2 can now sign up to receive the Windows 8 upgrade for $14.99 when the OS is released on Oct. 26.

    Back in May, Microsoft announced that anyone who purchased a Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 could upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. Registration for that offer is now live via windowsupgradeoffer.com for PC users in 140 countries. On Oct. 26, Microsoft will start sending out promo codes via email. When you upgrade via Windows.com, Microsoft will display the $39.99 price for general upgrades; enter the promo code on the confirmation page to get the $14.99 price. The promo code will expire until Feb. 28, 2013.

    Those who bought a PC before June 2 or have an older Windows 7 PC they’d like to upgrade can get Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 via Windows.com starting Oct. 26. There are also reports that standalone copies of Windows 8 will cost $69.99 at launch, a price that will jump to $199 after Jan. 31, 2013.

    After selecting your country, Microsoft will ask you to register your personal details and information about your new PC, including date of purchase, retailer, and PC brand and model. You’ll also need your 25-digit Windows 7 product key.

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