VIDEO: Windows 8 Preview – Top Features & Functions

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Windows 8 Video Review

After more than a year of speculation, sneak peeks and early development releases, Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system will be announced and available this week.  The new OS is completely different from the company’s previous products especially in terms of the user interface, touch integration and interactivity among the different elements of the software.  It also more intensely integrates a user’s social activities, allowing for more collaboration and a wider flow of Web-based information across a user’s desktop and within the applications themselves.

TechnologyGuide Chief Editor Jamison Cush has been following Windows 8 development and takes the OS on a  test spin on a Samsung tablet.  In the following video, he provides a look at some of Windows 8 highlights and key features.

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Video Transcript

Right now, you are looking at Windows 8.  If you have a Windows 8 tablet, desktop, or notebook, when you turn on Windows 8 it is going to look like this; this is essentially what you are going to see. What you have is a series of tiles, and they are essentially shortcuts to apps, email, and the internet, and they all reside in this space. Microsoft used to call this the Metro interface, but there had been some copyright claims made against Microsoft, so now they are just calling it Windows 8 desktop or Windows 8 interface. It is very similar to what you see in Windows Phone 7 and 8, and the new Xbox dashboard, so this is really Microsoft’s look, going forward.

As you can see, it is very swipe-friendly. These are very big, colorful icons. For users who prefer the traditional desktop, that is there as well, it will be tucked here in the corner. You can open up Office or Internet Explorer through here, just as you would with a Windows 7 machine. The big thing that is missing is that Start button that used to be right there, where it would scroll up where you could see your apps and all the shortcuts to your apps.  Instead, that has been replaced by this, right here.

The big thing is that this is going to be a learning curve. This is going to be tough for people to get used to, particularly if they are used to Windows XP or Windows 7. As I said, it is very touch-friendly, and very tablet-friendly. You can navigate this with cursor keys or with the mouse, it is a little more clumsy, but Microsoft is seriously looking at tablets and touchscreen devices as the future of computing, and that is why we have this right.

The interesting thing here is that there are basically two levels of applications. If you go to the desktop, this is where your full applications will reside. If you have Office or Internet Explorer, any of your old applications you had installed on Windows 7 you can install back into the desktop. Then when we go into the Metro, or the interface formerly known as Metro, they have what we call Metro Apps.

In this space here, there are apps built specifically for it that do not function on the desktop, those can be purchased via the store, which is loading right now. You will see a weather client, a Twitter client, or various games. As you can see, it looks like the Metro, or what was formerly known as Metro interface, and it has all the apps that you can buy or download for free. It is a lot like the App Store or Google Play.

Let us show off one of these apps. Here is a popular game called Fruit Ninja, it is popular with the iPhone, iPad, and Android tablets. As you see, you can play it here on the Windows 8 tablet. That is enough of that, let us go back.  It is not really apparent right now, but these are supposed to be active tiles. Say this is the weather tile, and if I opened it up, it would go to the weather app. If you go back to this screen, what we should see is the current weather conditions, temperature, and things like that; it is the same deal with your email. You should see a scrolling email, unfortunately, I do not have it set up right now.

Let us take a look at email. A lot of people do not know this, but Microsoft bought Hotmail a long time ago and they are currently rebranding it as Outlook, because a lot of users moved from Hotmail to Gmail, and they want to get them back. Outlook is tied into Windows 8. If you go to Outlook.com or Hotmail.com and sign in, you can get this look, but it is also embedded as the email app on the Windows 8 tablet.

Also, you can use swipe motions to navigate. As you can see, I am cycling through apps just by swiping. Of course, you can always go back by swiping that way. It is a very swipe-centric design, which is why it lends itself to tablets. Also, if you have a really good trackpad on your notepad, you can probably mimic the swipes that way, as well. For users with a regular mouse or a lousy trackpad on a budget notebook, they might have a little trouble navigating or it will not be as natural, compared to the old desktop experience, which is probably why Microsoft decided to keep it in there.



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