Windows 8 – Everything You Need to Know

The future of operating systems

Microsoft revolutionised the personal computing world on the 30th of November 1985 when they introduced their first graphical user interface. Windows was about to become a part of history.

Almost 30 years later and most of the world still uses an operating system which represents the bits and bytes of their computer as a series of files, folders and stylised Windows – and its honestly hard to imagine any other way of doing it.

The operating system itself still enjoys a huge amount of popularity and a market share that’s close to 90 percent, including users on older versions. But for those who want to be completely up to date, they’ll want to check out Windows 8.

Introduced in 2012, Windows 8 was the most significant update to the renowned operating system in years. And mostly that’s because of the humble touchscreen. Microsoft was keen to integrate new features into their OS which would make the most of the new possibilities of devices like tablets and also planned to spread those benefits to their new mobile version, Windows Phone.

This new ethos resulted in a clean and graphically impressive user interface, based around a series of tiles and grids which will be familiar to anyone who has used a recent Nokia phone or Xbox console. This Metro screen also features live tiles that can draw information from news sites or social media, making for a much more modern and integrated experience.

Of course, long time Windows users can also access the familiar desktop layout where they’ll be able to place shortcuts to apps and programs. They’ll also have the benefits of additional gesture based shortcuts which open up frequently used functions like quickly searching the internet.

While a touchscreen is far from essential for Windows 8, there’s plenty of functionality available on tablets. And for the best of both worlds the higher end Microsoft Surface tablets are capable of running programs just like a desktop computer as well as taking advantage of everything a tablet has to offer.

For those who are used to tablets and smartphones, they’ll also find the Windows Store to be a very familiar feature. It’s the place where you go to get new apps (which are separate from regular programs) and some like Facebook and Skype can be snapped to the side of your regular browsing to you’re constantly updated. There are also additional services like Xbox Music – a music streaming service with over 10 million tracks where you can listen for free (with ads) or purchase songs and albums.

Late 2013 saw the release of Windows 8.1 – the first in what will be yearly updates to the OS from Microsoft. It brings a smoother user experience which can be further customised to suit any user, with a special focus on making the OS more accessible to those upgrading from an older version of Windows.

As the most used operating system on the planet, you can feel secure in the knowledge that with Windows 8 you’re also getting the best and most intuitive user experience – whether you’re using a mouse and keyboard or the latest touchscreen device.

In Short: Microsoft’s latest version of their long running operating system has been optimised to make your user experience as intuitive as possible

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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