Windows 8 – A New Generation of Operating Systems

By Thomas Saw Aung

Microsoft’s recent operating system, the Windows 8, first marketed in August of 2012, has had a slow introduction to the public. A quick look at the new Windows 8 shows obvious changes from the previous versions of Microsoft operating systems (OS) for computers.

Radical new changes have been applied to Windows 8 as the OS is used for both computers and tablets. Consumers used to the “regular” Windows format (used in Windows XP, Vista and 7) will find the new OS quite frustrating to learn.

The OS of Windows 8 was previously called the “metro.” The metro was the OS used for the Windows Phone that employed rectangle and square illustrations as shortcuts to launch programs. Windows 8 employs this new type of setup for the start menu. In addition to the new start menu, Windows 8 has a new login screen that is similar to the lock screen on cellphones, offering a swiping option for a password.

With the new change in appearance also came a change in security. For the first time ever in its production of computers, Microsoft provides an antivirus program for free. The new antivirus is simply the already well known Windows Defender program with major improvements.

Windows Defender first was introduced as a free antispyware program that came along with Windows Vista. With the new Windows 8 OS, Early Launch Anti-Malware (ELAM) and Rootkit detection were Microsoft’s new additions to Windows Defender to combat programs that hijacked the computer before the OS could start. The Secure Boot (Part of the ELAM) allows for security programs to be activated before the OS loads. That being said the new security offered with Windows 8 is not completely perfect and for more security a third party antivirus should be used.

Not only has the start menu and login changed, but the commonly used task manager has been revamped. The new task manager has a streamlined appearance, with the programs running shown with little thumbnails that display their images. Unlike the original task manager, numbers are not displayed unless the user clicks on the “more details” arrow, making the task manager look less daunting or intimidating. The heavy processes and services are highlighted and the programs are all organized into branches.

While the list of radical new modifications could go on forever, some users of past Microsoft OS computers will find the new changes off putting. The learning curve for the new Windows 8 is quite steep due to the addition of so many new programs and different setups. Not to mention since the OS was meant to be used on computers and tablets, computer users with a mouse and keyboard may find certain functions of Windows 8 excessive and time consuming. The start menu, for example, fills the entire screen and blocks access to other programs.

“My beloved start menu is gone!” exclaims Shio Fung Zhu, a senior. “Now I’ll be stuck with the annoying full screen start menu.”

In addition to the new programs are the removal of other long well known, Window OS programs. One such program is the infamous Windows Media Player. Microsoft decided that the Window Media Player and the programs associated with Windows Media Player were unnecessary. Games such as Chess Titans and Inkball have also been removed because the app store provides the games. Though this removal of long well known programs is somewhat a concern, there are positive alternatives. The already well known alternative to Windows Media Player is VLC produced by VideoLAN. VLC is a free program capable of operating multiple file formats and even DVDs as well. Games can be downloaded from the popular Steam program developed by Valve.

The new Windows 8 applies the same OS used by tablets making an emphasis on touch screen use. That being said, it is recommended that those seeking to buy a computer with Windows 8 should have a computer with some kind of touch screen capability. The use of touch screens will ease the user into the usage of Windows 8, making the learning curve more flat.

In spite of all the recent improvements to Windows 8, many PC users are still reluctant to switch to a new OS.

Yuriy Sbrodov, a senior, stated, “I’m satisfied with my Windows 7 and see no reason to change my computer’s OS.”

Microsoft make a risky maneuver to use the same OS for both the tablet and the computer. However, it is this very risk and introduction of new ideas that allows technology to move forward. The introduction of the new start menu and lock screen provides new concepts that may appear pointless to some people. These new changes only have generated more anticipation for next OS. What new additions will Microsoft produce? Wait and find out.

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