Microsoft Windows is, by far, the world’s best known operating system. Over the years it has seen many versions and upgrades, and has now reached its eighth version. Windows 8, the newest of the series, promises to revolutionize the way we see the Windows OS. It has new features, better performance and is optimized for tablets. Of course, there are those who feel that Microsoft have gone a bit over the board with Windows 8, and to some extent, I believe they have too, but this is a topic for another time.
Many of the new features in Windows 8 are still a mystery for most. This is why we decided to shed some light on these Windows 8 secrets, so you could fully take advantage of this great operating system. I recommend you read our guide to Windows 8, where we explained all the new feature. This guide will focus on certain aspects of the new operating system.
Helpful tools in Windows 8
1. System Reset
You all know that after some time, your Windows is like a closet. Full of all sorts of useless things that don’t do anything but occupy space. This is a problem we had and the brainiacs at Microsoft have finally found a solution to it: A complete system reset that erases everything on your computer and leaves you with a clean Windows. This tool also deletes your Windows and installs a brand new one.
Everything from user data, settings to data stored on your computer is deleted and the slate is wiped clean. No more need start uninstalling programs or fiddling with time consuming Windows installations. This process only takes a few minutes and you are all set to go. To access this tool, go to the search bar from the Metro Interface and type “reset”. Then click the “Remove everything and install Windows”.
2. System Refresh
System Refresh is somewhat similar to the Reset feature. It will, however, leave your files and customizations in place, but it will delete all the third-party apps and programs installed on your computer and it will restore all settings back to their default state. The process is much faster than a system reset, and it has the added bonus of leaving your information intact. Your Windows OS will be deleted and a new version installed, but after the installation, it will recover all the saved data.
To access this tool, go to the search bar in the Metro interface and type “refresh”, then click “Refresh your PC”. This is all there is to it, a simple and very useful tool for every user of Windows 8.
New Windows Explorer
One of the coolest upgrades Windows 8 has received is for the explorer. This element has gotten more than a simple facelift. The new element that you will notice when you open Windows Explorer is the Ribbon (similar to the one we saw in Office 2007). This is where you will find all the buttons and tools you would normally have in other menus. I think this one of the most useful upgrades that Windows has received, mostly because you have all these options at a click away at any time and so, you no longer have to navigate through complicated menus to find them.
Besides the new and improved interface of the Windows Explorer, you now have the possibility of mounting virtual images (iso files) without the need for a third party app. Also, Microsoft has brought back the “Up” button that we saw in Windows XP. A great feature that facilitates browsing through your files by letting you go one level up (backwards) the folder tree.
One final update that the Windows Explorer has received is the Copy window. The old one has some information about the copy speed and files remaining, but in Windows 8 it shows you a graph of the copy process, a very nice touch that gives it a more modern and more appealing look. Good one Microsoft, finally you are paying more attention to details.
3. Parental Control
If you are interested in this feature, I would recommend our guide for parental control apps. However, since Windows 8 has a pretty good system for monitoring the use of the computer by the little one, you might not need a third party app. The parental control system closely resembles the Windows Live Family app: it has similar features, such as time allowance, web filter and web blocker and a report feature that lets you know what your kids have been doing on the PC.
Among others, the old Control Panel has gotten a major redesign. Although the old features and tools are still there, you may now find the “Notifications” tab, where you can choose what notifications Windows will show you. Also, you have “Sharing” and “Sync” tabs that help you upload or share files and settings. Apart from this, the Control Panel has the same features, but it packs an awesome design, much easier to navigate and use.
UI and Customization
Out with the old, in with the new
Microsoft have been hard at work in the design compartment. They tried to make Windows 8 as “fresh looking” as possible, but it has to retain some of the features that we are used to, right? WRONG! They have removed one of the most iconic features of the Windows OS: the Start Orb. The little Windows logo from which you used to launch the start menu and see the installed programs is gone, and it has been replaced by….well, nothing.
By implementing the Metro Interface which puts all your installed apps on your home screen, Microsoft saw no need for the old Start Orb. But they make up for this by adding many customization options that allow you to change the Start Screen, Lock Screen and Account Picture. All of these are very easy to use and do not require special computer knowledge. The Lock Screen has the biggest change, allowing you add apps to it and a variety of unlocking modes, like drawing pattern or clicking on different locations in a picture.
Are you ready for Windows 8?
A feature that has been implemented for some time in smartphones, the ability to see or block notifications from different apps is now available for PC users that run Windows 8. Although it has taken a long time to get it, we are all glad that it is present. All these customization options are available to the user in “Personalization” tab. Also, do check our indications on how to navigate in Windows 8, if you still don’t know how to do it.
It’s true, Windows 8 brings to the table an entirely new concept, with many improvements, both on the surface and in its inner workings. The OS performs better, it’s faster and it has lots of cool new features, but all of these changes might leave some with a bitter taste, and I don’t think they will pay$ 99 for a Windows who does not offer what they want, because Microsoft have somehow abandoned some features that we were used to and we considered them to be very useful. Maybe we will see an upgrade in the future that will give users the possibility to bring back the old interface.