Template:Windows 8 Windows 8 is expected to include several new features, including USB 3.0 support, Live ID integration, the Windows Store, the ability to run from USB Flash drives with Windows To Go, and easier system restore options, among others.

Development platform

Language and standards support

Windows 8 has a new developer platform according to Microsoft Vice President Julie Larson-Green, who called it "our new developer platform, which is...based on HTML5 and JavaScript."[1] The new applications developed for Windows 8 could be easily ported as a Metro-style application and developers could use any existing Windows Application Development language to port applications as a Metro-style app (by adding minimal amount of code). This is possible because of the architectural changes done to the Windows platform. All applications developed – whether using C#, MFC, or HTML5/JavaScript – will translate into the WinRT APIs,[2] which sits directly above the Windows kernel. The new applications run in full-screen, but two of them can be displayed side-by-side using "Snap". Examples of new applications that were demoed include a Twitter client, a weather application, a stock-tracking application, an RSS news feeder, and a virtual piano.

The new platform is primarily designed for 16:9 screen resolutions, with 1366×768 and larger screens able to display two Windows 8 "Metro-style" applications side-by-side by "snapping". 1024×768 screens can display one application in full-screen, and 1024×600 screens can only use the traditional desktop applications.[3]

Windows 8 also introduces APIs to support near field communication (NFC) on Windows 8 devices, allowing functionality like launching URLs/applications and sharing of information between devices via NFC.[4]

Windows Store

Microsoft has confirmed the introduction of a Windows Store on Windows 8, similar to the Ubuntu Software Center, and Mac App Store, that allows developers to publish their Metro-style applications on Windows 8 devices. The Windows Store will also allow developers to publish their Win32 or "traditional desktop" applications, however, the store will only provide links to the application on their website. Ted Dworkin, a Partner Director of Program Management on the Windows Web Services team highlighted that the Windows Store will be the only means of distributing Metro-style apps to users to allow Microsoft to scan apps for security flaws and malware.[5]

Shell and user interface

File:Win8 lock screen.png

Screenshot showing Windows 8's ability to pin apps and show different wallpapers on different monitors, as well as displaying the new Explorer file browser interface, Task Manager, and multi-monitor taskbar (in "Duplicated on all taskbars" mode).

Metro style

Windows 8 features an extensively redesigned "Metro-style" user interface, optimized for touchscreens as well as mice and keyboards. A new "Start screen", similar to the one in Windows Phone 7, includes live application tiles. The start screen replaces the Start menu, being triggered by the Start button or Windows key, and is also the first screen shown on start up. The user can go to the regular desktop, which is treated as a Metro app with its own "Desktop" tile on the Start screen. Starting a traditional desktop-based application also switches to the desktop. The Start screen also displays the user's name and picture.

Windows 8 features a new login/lock screen that shows the date and time and notifications, along with a customizable background.

Picture password

Instead of typing a password, a new authentication method allows users to use a set of gestures in the selected picture to login. These gestures will take into account the shape, the start and end points, as well as the directionality. However, the shapes and gestures are limited to tapping and tracing a line or circle. Microsoft found that limiting the gestures improved the speed of sign-ins by three times compared to allowing freeform methods. Wrong gestures will always deny a login, and it will lock out the PC after five unsuccessful attempts, until a text password is provided. [6][7]


Windows 8 provides a configurable taskbar in the traditional Windows desktop that spans multiple monitors. The Multiple Monitor Taskbar can be turned on and off and is used to display the minimized windows. Similarly, Windows 8 provides the user with the ability to show different wallpapers on different monitors, or the same wallpaper stretched across multiple monitors.

Windows Explorer

Similar to Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Live Essentials, the re-designed Windows Explorer will use the Ribbon interface to enhance discoverability of commands and bring relevant commands to users depending on their file selection. For example, selecting photos in a folder brings up tools to rotate the photos and to start a slide show. The interface was selected to bring forward the most commonly used commands for easy access.[8]

Additionally, Windows Explorer features a redesigned preview pane that takes advantage of widescreen layouts and the "Up" button removed from Windows Explorer in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is now included in the interface.[8]

Windows Explorer will feature a new user interface for copying and moving files, offering both a simplified interface and an advanced interface for users to monitor the speed of the operations. Users now view all simultaneous file operations in one consolidated window, and can pause file operations in progress.[9] A new interface has also been introduced for managing file name collisions in a file operation, allowing users to easily control which conflicting files are copied.[10]

Windows Explorer can now mount ISO, IMG, and VHD files as virtual drives through simple right-clicks or the Explorer toolbar[11] as compared to Windows 7 where VHDs could be mounted in a less-discoverable way, via the Disk Management section in the Computer Management MMC, or by using diskpart from the command line.[12]

Task Manager

A new Task Manager replaces Windows Task Manager (though the old version is also included).

The following changes were made:

  • The tabs are hidden by default. This view only shows applications.
  • Resource utilization in the Processes tab is shown with various shades of yellow, with darker color representing heavier use.
  • The Performance tab is split into CPU, memory, disk, Ethernet, and wireless network (if applicable) sections. There are overall graphs for each, and clicking on one reaches details for that particular resource.
    • The CPU tab no longer displays individual graphs for every logical processor on the system by default. It now can show data for each NUMA node.
    • The CPU tab now displays simple percentages on heat-mapping tiles to display utilization for systems with many (64 or more, up to 640) logical processors.[13] The color used for these heat maps is blue, with darker color again indicating heavier utilization.
    • Hovering the cursor over any logical processor's data now shows the NUMA node of that processor and its ID.
  • A new Startup tab has been added that lists startup applications.[14]
  • The Processes tab now lists application names, application status, and overall usage data for CPU, memory, hard disk, and network resources for each process.
    • The new task manager recognizes when a WinRT application is in "Suspended" status.
    • The normal process information found in the older Task Manager can be found in the new Details tab.

New easy restore

The Developer Preview comes with two new recovery functions, namely Refresh and Reset, both of which make a complete restore easier than a re-installation. The former keeps all settings & files of the user intact and only reverses all changes to Windows files to its original state and removes all installed programs and apps. The latter deletes all files and effectively re-installs Windows, but without any additional user input such as agreeing to license agreements or selecting a hard disk required. After a reset completes, the user will be asked for the product key and will then proceed to account creation.[15][16]

Windows Live ID integration

One big change is that user accounts do not have to be local-only anymore, but can be linked up to one's Windows Live ID. This has the advantage that users will not lose their settings and files, as they move from their home computer to their work laptop or to any other computer also using Windows 8, and signing in via Windows Live ID.[17]

Windows To Go

Windows To Go USB Drive

Bootable Windows To Go USB flash drive

Windows To Go is an upcoming Windows 8 feature that will allow users to create a bootable USB Flash drive (usually called a Live USB) with Windows 8 in it, including the user's programs, settings, and files.[18][19][20][21] It is planned to work on both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and both on legacy BIOS and UEFI firmware.[22] In addition to that, the system will freeze if the USB drive is removed, and will continue to operate if the USB drive is inserted in the next 60 seconds after removal.[22][23]

Storage Spaces

Storage Spaces is a storage virtualization technology which succeeds Logical Disk Manager and allows the organization of physical disks into logical volumes similar to RAID1 or RAID5, but on a higher level. [24]

A storage space will behave like a physical disk to the user, with thin provisioning of available disk space. The spaces are organized within a storage pool, i.e. a collection of physical disks, which can span multiple disks of different sizes and different interfaces (USB, SATA, SAS). The process of adding new disks or replacing failed or older disks is fully automatic, but can be controlled with PowerShell commands. The same storage pool can host multiple storage spaces. Storage Spaces have built-in resiliency from disk failures, which is achieved by either mirroring or striping with parity across the physical disks. Each storage pool on the ReFS filesystem is limited to 4 PB (4096 TB), but there are no limits on total number of storage pools or the number of storage spaces within a pool.[25]

Device support

USB 3.0

Windows 8 will have built-in support of USB 3.0 for better power management and longer battery life.[26][27]

New architecture support

Windows 8 will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures, including ARM-based systems. On the x86 architecture, Intel Corporation and AMD continue their work on low-power SoC designs that support Windows.[28]

Other features and changes


Mike Angiulo confirmed at Computex 2011 that Windows 8 will use OEM Activation 3.0 instead of OEM Activation 2.1 (used by Windows 7), which supposedly makes it less prone to cracks.


Windows 8 will also include Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization software. Previously only offered in Windows Server, Hyper-V will now be available in client versions of Windows for the first time. The system requirements for Hyper-V are a 64-bit processor, a 64-bit version of Windows 8, and a minimum of 4 GB of RAM. Hyper-V also requires a 64-bit system that has Second Level Address Translation (SLAT), a feature that helps with memory management. Many of Intel's and AMD's recent processors support this feature, including many of Intel's i-Series processors (with Extended Page Table) and AMD's 10h family processors.[29]

Shorter boot times

On September 8, 2011, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 has short boot times, because it saves the kernel's memory to the hard disk on shutdown (similar to the existing hibernate option) and reloads it on start up.[30]

Boot security

Windows 8 will support the UEFI secure boot feature.[31] This will enable a new foundation for an architecturally neutral approach to platform and firmware security. It is based on a public key infrastructure (PKI) process to validate firmware images before they are allowed to execute. A secure boot helps reduce the risk of boot loader attacks.


Windows 8 includes WDDM 1.2 and DXGI 1.2. New features were first previewed at the Windows BUILD conference and include performance improvements as well as support for stereoscopic 3D rendering and video playback.

Other major features include preemptive multitasking with finer granularity (DMA buffer, primitive, triangle, pixel, or instruction-level), reduced memory footprint, improved resource sharing, and faster timeout detection and recovery. 16-bit color surface formats (565, 5551, 4444) are mandatory in Windows 8, and Direct3D 11 Video supports YUV 4:4:4/4:2:2/4:2:0/4:1:1 video formats with 8, 10, and 16-bit precision, as well as 4 and 8-bit palletized formats.

See also


  1. Peter Bright (2011-06-13). "Why Microsoft has made developers horrified about coding for Windows 8". Arstechnica. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  2. "The Windows Runtime". Microsoft. February 2012. 
  3. "Microsoft Demos Windows 8 at First Public Event". 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  4. "NFC: Windows 8′s hidden connection to tags and devices". Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  5. Tom, Warren. "Microsoft details and demos the Windows Store for Windows 8". Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  6. "Keynote #1 | BUILD2011 | Channel 9". 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  7. Zach Pace (December 2011). "Signing in with a picture password". Microsoft. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Improvements in Windows Explorer". Microsoft. August 2011. 
  9. "Improving our file management basics: copy, move, rename and delete". Microsoft. August 2011. 
  10. "Designing the Windows 8 file name collision experience". Microsoft. August 2011. 
  11. "Accessing data in ISO and VHD files". Microsoft. August 2011. 
  12. "Create and Use a Virtual Hard Disk on Windows 7". Microsoft. Retrieved February 2012. 
  13. "Using Task Manager with 64+ logical processors". Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  14. "How to Get the Most out of New Windows 8 Task Manager?". Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  15. "Refresh and reset your PC". Microsoft. January 2012. 
  16. "Making the lives of IT easier: Windows 8 Refresh, Reset, and Windows To Go". Ars Technica. September 2011. 
  17. "Signing in to Windows 8 with a Windows Live ID". Microsoft. September 2011. "Saved settings are available when you sign in to your account on any Windows 8 PC" 
  18. Gregg Keizer. "Windows 8 will run from USB thumb drive". Computerworld. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  19. "Windows 8 fits on a thumb drive - Technology - GMA News Online - Latest Philippine News". Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  20. "Windows 8 Running on a USB – Windows To Go - Softpedia". Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  21. "Windows 8 to feature USB-runnable Portable Workspaces, sales of 16GB thumb drives set to soar". Engadget. 2011-04-15. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 "[Videos] Microsoft Demonstrates Windows To Go (Run Windows 8 From USB On Any PC)". Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  23. "What Happens When You Remove A Windows To Go USB drive (Windows 8)". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  24. "Virtualizing storage for scale, resiliency, and efficiency". Building Windows 8 blog. 2012-01-05. 
  25. "Building the next generation file system for Windows: ReFS". Building Windows 8 Blog. 2012-01-16. 
  26. "Building robust USB 3.0 support". Microsoft. August 2011. 
  27. "Microsoft to provide USB 3.0 support for better battery life in Windows 8". ZDNet. August 2011. 
  28. "Microsoft Announces Support of System on a Chip Architectures From Intel, AMD, and ARM for Next Version of Windows: January 5, 2011". 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  29. "Microsoft announces Hyper-V in Windows 8". 2011-09-08. 
  30. "Microsoft Touts Incredible Windows 8 Boot Times". Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  31. "Protecting the pre-OS environment with UEFI". 

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