The new Metro-style touch-based interface of Windows 8 is both for tablets and desktops. And no matter what device you’re on, you can switch between the simple Metro interface and the traditional Windows desktop to fit whatever your needs are at that given moment.
Here are some salient features of Windows 8:
The Lock Screen
Windows 8′s lock screen got a lovely picture along with a few little widgets full of information, like the time, how many emails you have, and so on. However, after swiping to unlock, Windows 8 shows off some touch-based features, particularly a picture password feature. Instead of using a PIN or a lock pattern to get into your system you swipe invisible gestures using a picture to orient yourself (an example is given). A picture password is more secure.
The Home Screen
The home screen is very familiar to anyone who’s used Windows Phone. You’ve got a set of tiles, each of which represents an application, and many of which show information and notifications that correspond to the app. For example, your email tile will tell you how many unread emails you have (and who they’re from), your calendar tile will show upcoming events, your music tile will show you what’s playing, and so on. You can also create tiles for games, contacts, and even traditional Windows apps that will pull you into the Windows desktop.
The Windows Store
The Windows Store, which is now available in the Consumer Preview, looks much like the home screen, with tiles that correspond to different categories and featured apps. From there, you can look at a more detailed list of the available apps in a given section. Right now, the Windows Store is full of free apps from Microsoft and its partners, so you can check out some of the upcoming apps now.
Basic app works
For running a basic app works, you tap on its home screen icon and it goes full screen. The browser has lots of touch-based controls, like pinch to zoom and copy and paste, and you can access options like search, share, and settings through the Charms bar which you can get by swiping from the right edge of the screen or pressing Win+C. You can share photos to Facebook, send text from a web page in an email, and so on.
What is new is the ability to not only multitask, but run these apps side by side. You can watch a video and keep an eye on your news feed at the same time. You will be able to IM and play a game at the same time, or browse the web while writing an email.
Sync to the CloudYour Microsoft account drives all the syncing to the cloud in Windows 8. Your address book, photos, SkyDrive data, and even data within third-party apps can sync up to the cloud, and you can access them on any Windows 8 device. Just sign in, and you’ll have access to everything. The address book also syncs with other services like Facebook and Twitter as well. You can even sync all of your settings from one Windows 8 PC to another. Just sign onto your Windows 8 with a Microsoft account and you’ll get all your themes, languages, app settings, taskbar, and other preferences will show right up. It’s a pretty neat feature if you have multiple Windows 8 PCs and don’t want to set them all up separately—just a few taps and you’ve got all your preferences ready to go.
Task ManagerYou have a very simple task manager for basic task killing, but if you’re a more advanced user, you can bring up the detailed task manager filled with information on CPU and RAM usage, Metro app history, and even startup tweaking.
Increased PerformanceWindows 8 is slated to have better performance than Windows 7, even with this metro interface running on top of a desktop. Tablet and netbook users may notice a fairly significant performance increase with Windows 8. A comforting feature is that any of your tablet-based apps will suspend themselves when you jump into the traditional desktop, so they don’t take up any of your resources.