Inside the new Windows 8

FEW weeks back, Microsoft launched its new Windows 8 operating system, which I managed to get hold of and after some 24 minutes of a clean install, I will attempt to review it.
The first thing you will notice when you fire up Win­dows 8 is that your beloved, familiar Start button is gone and every third party application has come with its own new way to restore what Windows is trying to trash.
Arguably, it’s such a grand departure from Red­mond’s legacy Windows software that most users won’t recognise it as Windows at all.
That is both good and bad. For those pundits who were crying out for something fresh, Windows has aptly responded to their calls. On the flip side some of the new features are likely to face adoption resistance in the long run, impeding the adoption of the operating system.
What’s the fuss about the Start button, you may ask? While Microsoft invented it and have every right to ditch it, I believe that the Start button is the industry standard.
Even Linux and Apple have theirs too. When we fail to distinguish the difference between function and functionality then the product becomes unuseable.
Functionality is not functions and while Microsoft seems to blend the two quite easily, we would rather be more concerned with improving the tyre structure rather than watch Windows re-invent the whole wheel.
Of course, there are now a plethora of third party applications to bring back the Start menu and some other keyboard shortcuts to try and restore the func­tionality.
Why should Zimbabweans be forced to go out and buy, install or learn how a third-party application will work just to get the basic functionality of an operating system?
There are some other keyboard shortcuts to get back control in Windows 8, by simply pressing Start+D com­bination you will instantly go straight to the desk­top environment from wherever you are.
Press it again, and you will clear all the Windows to show the desktop you have spent the last two decades getting comfortable with.
Press it once more and your fancy tiled windows returns. Besides the shortcomings of re-installing and working you way back to the Start menu, Windows 8 has shipped in quite some magnificent cutting edge changes to the operating system.
Microsoft has supplanted the catch-all Start menu of previous Windows editions with something subtler, but with a broader mandate.
All applications have settings and therefore you should be able to access those settings in the same place, regardless of the application.
It challenges current common wisdom about appli­cations and their icons, and re-imagines the icon as an integrated extension of the application itself.
So with Windows 98 the application and the applica­tion will mean two different things.
Microsoft has two key goals for Windows 8. First, the company wants to regain its niche.
Windows has long been synonymous with a mun­dane experience centred on productivity while its com­petitors like Apple offer a visually slick, user-friendly experience on the desktop.
Controlling the mouse and the touch screen at the same time has made Windows more fun on laptops and awkward on desktop.
It can be fully controlled with touches, swipes and gestures, and it still gives users full access to all the good old Microsoft stuff.
To access the myriad legacy apps they use everyday, three default gestures will come with all laptops that have touch pads.
That is the pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll along the X and Y axes, and edge swiping.
That last aspect is important because it will give you an easier way to activate the edges on non-touch-screen Windows 8 computers besides using the mouse.
The pinch to zoom feature has also been the centre of controversy with Apple claiming patent rights to it and if it wins the case, Windows may be forced to kiss them goodbye.
Fingered vertical swipe also accomplishes this, but we found the keyboard shortcut much easier.
You navigate Windows 8 through the charms bar, which has no true analog in Windows 7.
It is the navigation bar that lives at the right edge of the screen that intertwines OS navigation with OS functionality.
From the charms bar, you can search apps, files and settings, share content across apps, jump to the start screen, configure external devices such as multiple monitors and change settings both for Windows 8 itself and any app that you are in at the moment.
Security, stability and speed have been guaranteed especially on the mobile devices platform.
Windows RT is designed for ARM processors, which means a score in better battery life.
ARM system chips are the ones supporting all the known smartphones, iPads and Android tablets, and making modern devices work with much more effi­ciency.
Besides the battery advantage, ARM processor archi­tect is not prone to malware attacks, this simply means all those nasty malware attacks on windows cannot cross over to Windows RT.
It’s a totally different system but, of course, once the RT market is lucrative you should brace up for attacks. You still have to worry about social engineering tricks, of course, but malware like Ransomware just doesn’t exist for Windows RT.
ARM, British chip designer already has confirmed product announcements from Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Microsoft with its Surface RT tablet — all powered from ARM’s chip designs.
Sales on most brand new computers will push Win­dows 8. Why? Because PC makers don’t have anything else to put on their new PCs.
Besides Microsoft has had a working relationship with most computer manufacturing brands.
Talking of bonus and freebies, for the first time ever since 1983, Microsoft is not going to charge a dime for its Microsoft Office package 2013 in Windows RT pack­age.
So besides the simple but intuitive Microsoft paint, you will also get a free Office package as a big incentive.

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