Windows 8 is expected to release in October of this year, only three years after the initial launch of Windows 7. It is expected to be the most different, new and unique version of windows since Windows 95, as indicated by the absence of a start menu or other such traditional interfaces.
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Additionally, its focus is primarily on home users instead of the corporate environment, unlike most versions of Windows that came before it. As such, it is aimed more towards what home consumers want, being more intuitive, easier for non-traditional computer users to operate, and able to run on the smaller, simpler and lighter machines (i.e. tablet and netbook PCs) which dominate the general consumer market.
As such, much of the traditional framework is gone, and what’s left is something that looks most similar to what Microsoft uses for its Xbox gaming system. Instead of icons, fully illustrated pictures for each application or “portal” are used, thus eliminating the traditional desktop in favour of navigable menu screens, each one with a limited number of brightly illustrated and immediately apparent displays to click on.
While there is apparently going to be an option for a more traditional icon-based desktop, Microsoft has refused to reveal this desktop until the official release date, making traditional computer users unsure as to whether or not they can entirely rely on Windows 8.
So the big question, as is always the case with Windows, is whether or not you should upgrade. Obviously, Windows 7 still has a lot of power and capability, and it will likely remain serviceable and up-to-date for many more years (Microsoft will support XP unto 2014, a full 13 years after launch, so it likely to support Windows 7 for at least 10).
Additionally, the Windows 8 graphical interface is radically different from traditional Windows operating systems and will invariably take some getting used to. Therefore Windows 8 might not be a good option for certain corporate or academic environments where safety and stability are more important than new features.
In the home market, though, Windows 8 promises to be ideal for non-traditional computer users due to its intuitive and direct nature, based on what Microsoft has learned by observing the tablet market. The design and layout also allows Windows 8 to attack viruses and malware from two directions.
In addition to the traditional anti-malware software formula, the restrictive interface keeps untrained users from accidentally downloading and installing unwanted software as well as eliminating pop-ups and programs that run in the background when unwanted. This is similar to the system that Apple has used successfully both in Macintosh computers and iPad/iPhone handhelds. Therefore it is hoped that Windows 8 will be the safest edition of Windows yet for untrained users.
Kelly Smith has worked for an IT support provider in Kent for several years and has seen the constantly changing face of technology first hand and its effects on business. She currently works for Barton Technology.
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