Windows 8 top eight
There's a lot of buzz arund the release of Wnidow 8, but what are the best features?
Windows 8 supports devices with a touchscreen and is fundamentally designed for them. The Metro style user interface is meant to be controlled with touch. This makes it an appealing upgrade for those with an existing touchscreen device such as an all-in-one PC.
If you don't have a touchscreen device then you might want to get one specifically for Windows 8 even though it means a hardware purchase on top of the OS. However, Windows 8 does support the traditional keyboard and mouse input.
Metro user interface
The Metro-style interface which we mentioned earlier is the basis of Windows 8 and represents a somewhat radical redesign for the OS. It looks very similar to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 interface and instead of the normal desktop with icons there are live tiles.
These will launch an application like an icon but also have the ability to show live information such as new emails and up-to-date weather.
Overall the interface is really easy and intuitive to use, especially with a touchscreen. Different gestures, either with touch or a mouse, will do clever things like close apps, open your last used app, access menus and more.
Windows 8 has a more mobile OS approach when it comes to app with its own Store. This is where you can browse, download and install apps designed for the Metro user interface and likely a touch input.
The selection of apps is currently limited but it is expected that the number will be significantly higher when Windows 8 gets its full launch. A lot of apps will display in full-screen with one example being Maps. This app uses Microsoft's Bing Maps service to provide locational search and directions on a global scale. Windows 8 comes pre-loaded with a number of Metro apps including People, Calendar, Photos, Music, Messaging and Video.
Windows 8 has a cloud focus to it which might be a tempting feature. Microsoft stores all your settings and customisations in the cloud so whenever you log on to a Windows 8 machine you will have it looking and working your way.
Lock screen and picture password
With Windows 8 you have the option to use a picture lock screen similar to that of a smartphone. This is the new alternative to the traditional typed password or no log in at all.
The picture password requires three gestures to be carried out on the image to log in; choosing from straight lines, circles and taps. The lock screen can be customised with your own photo, time, date and app notifications.
Microsoft has designed Windows 8 to work on different devices - it's not just for your PC. No matter whether the device is a 27-inch desktop, 15-inch laptop or a 10-inch tablet, Windows 8 will adapt to that device for flawless compatibly.
Furthermore the Metro interface will scale to that device's screen size and resolution to provide a consistent experience. If you want consistency across your device then Windows 8 is a great reason to upgrade.
If you're worried about things being a bit too radically different in Windows 8 then the good news is that the OS is backwards compatible with Windows 7. Microsoft has included the 'Classic' desktop alongside the Metro interface.This takes you to a traditional desktop where you can use all your usual applications which aren't designed for the Metro interface. The only different is there is no Start button.
You get the best of both worlds by upgrading, bringing you the new features of Windows 8 but not taking away the familiarity of the traditional desktop.
Task and file management
A couple of smaller but handy tweaks have been made to the Task Manager, File Manager. The latter consolidates multiple file operations into one window with the option to pause or cancel each one individually. There is also a real-time graph which displays the transfer speed.
The Task Manager has also has been enhanced and is split into Apps and Background processes. A new tab called App History includes a Metered network section which shows which apps have been using the most data.