Windows 8 is the official name for the next version of Microsoft Windows, a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, and media center PCs. According to unofficial sources, the release date for Windows 8 has been set for October 2012, three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows 7. Windows 8’s server counterpart, Windows Server 2012, is in development concurrently with Windows 8. The most recent officially released pre-release version is the Consumer Preview, which was released on February 29, 2012. An almost-complete Release Preview is scheduled for the first week of June 2012.
Unlike Windows 7, which was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, Windows 8 has been “reimagined from the chipset to the user experience” to connect with the user more. It features the Metro-style interface that is designed for touchscreen input similar to that in Windows Phone and on the Xbox 360. A version of Windows 8, called Windows RT, also adds support for the ARM processor architecture in addition to the previously supported x86 microprocessors from Intel and AMD.
Windows 8 development started before Windows 7 had shipped in 2009. However, it was in January 2011, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), that Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would be adding support for ARM microprocessors in addition to the x86 microprocessors from Intel, AMD and VIA. On June 1, 2011, Microsoft officially unveiled Windows 8 and its new user interface as well as additional features at the Taipei Computex 2011 in Taipei (Taiwan) by Mike Angiulo and at the D9 conference in California (United States) by Julie Larson-Green and Microsoft’s Windows President Steven Sinofsky. A month before the BUILD conference was held, Microsoft opened a new blog called “Building Windows 8” for users and developers on August 15, 2011.
A 32-bit Milestone 1 build, build 7850, with a build date of September 22, 2010, was leaked to BetaArchive, an online beta community, and to P2P/torrent sharing networks as well on April 12, 2011. Milestone 1 includes a ribbon interface for Windows Explorer, a PDF reader called Modern Reader, an updated task manager called Modern Task Manager, and native ISO image mounting.
A 32-bit Milestone 2 build, build 7927, was leaked to The Pirate Bay on August 29, 2011 right after many pictures leaked on BetaArchive the day before. Features of this build are mostly the same as build 7955.
A 32-bit Milestone 2 build, build 7955, was leaked to BetaArchive on April 25, 2011. Features of this build included a new pattern login and a new file system known as Protogon, which is now known as ReFS and only included in server versions.
A Milestone 3 build, build 7971, was released to close partners of Microsoft on March 29, 2011 but was kept under heavy security. However, a few screenshots were leaked. The “Windows 7 Basic” theme now uses similar metrics to the Aero style, but maintains its non-hardware accelerated design, and also supports taskbar thumbnails. The boxes that encase the “close, maximize, and minimize” buttons have been removed, leaving just the signs.
A 64-bit Milestone 3 build, build 7989, leaked to Win7vista on June 18, 2011 after screenshots were revealed on MDL (My Digital Life) forums. An SMS feature, a new virtual keyboard, a new bootscreen, transparency in the basic theme, geo-location services, Hyper-V 3.0, and PowerShell 3.0 were revealed in this build.
Microsoft unveiled new Windows 8 features and improvements on the first day of the BUILD conference on September 13, 2011. Microsoft also released the Windows Developer Preview (build 8102) of Windows 8 for the developer community to download and start working with. This developer preview includes tools for building “metro style apps”, such as Microsoft Windows SDK for Metro style applications, Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 Developer Preview and Microsoft Expression Blend 5 developer preview. According to Microsoft, there were more than 500,000 downloads of the developer preview within the first 12 hours of its release. The Developer Preview also introduced the Start screen and the Start button in the desktop opened the Start screen instead of the Start menu in the Developer Preview.
On 16 February 2012, Microsoft postponed the expiration date of the developer preview. Originally set to expire on 11 March 2012, this release is now set to expire on 15 January 2013.
On 29 February 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the beta version of Windows 8, build 8250. For the first time since Windows 95, the Start button is no longer present on the taskbar, though the Start screen is still triggered by clicking the bottom-left corner of the screen and by clicking Start in the Charm. Windows president Steven Sinofsky said more than 100,000 changes had been made since the developer version went public. In the first day of its release, Windows 8 Consumer Preview was downloaded over one million times. Like the Developer Preview, the Consumer Preview is set to expire on 15 January 2013.
Steven Sinofsky announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview will be ready for download during the first week of June at Japan’s Dev’s Days conference.
The traditional desktop environment, for running desktop applications, is treated as a Metro app. The Start button has been removed from the taskbar in favor of a Start button on the new charm bar, as well as a hotspot in the bottom-left corner. Both open the new Start screen, which replaces the Start menu.
Internet Explorer 10 will be included both as a Metro-style app, which will not support plugins or ActiveX components, and a desktop version which will maintain legacy plug-in support.
Ability to sign in using a Windows Live ID. This will allow for the user’s profile and settings to be synchronized over the internet and accessible from other computers running Windows 8, as well as integration with SkyDrive.
Two new authentication methods: picture password, which allows users to log in by drawing three gestures in different places on a picture, and PIN log in, which allows users to authenticate using a four digit pin.
Windows Explorer will include a ribbon toolbar, and have its file operation progress dialog updated to provide more detailed statistics, the ability to pause file transfers, and improvements in the ability to manage conflicts when copying files.
Hybrid Boot will use “advanced hibernation functionality” on shutdown to allow faster startup times.
Windows To Go will allow Windows 8 to boot and run from a bootable USB device (such as a flash drive).
Two new recovery functions are included, Refresh and Reset. Refresh restores all Windows files to their original state while keeping settings, files, and Metro-Style apps, while reset takes the computer back to factory default condition.
Native USB 3.0 support
A new lock screen
New Windows Task Manager design
Xbox Live (Including Xbox Live Arcade)
Microsoft says that the Consumer Preview works well on hardware suitable for Windows 7; these system requirements may change in the final release.
To use touch input features, touch enabled hardware is required.
In order to run Metro applications, a screen resolution of 1024×768 or higher is required to run one app at a time, and a resolution of 1366×768 is required to run two app side-by-side using snap.
Microsoft has said that the following virtualization products can be used to run Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Hyper-V in Windows 8 Developer Preview, Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2, VMware Workstation 8.0.2 for Windows, VirtualBox 4.1.8 for Windows, Parallels Workstation 6 for Windows, Parallels Desktop 4 for Windows, and XenDesktop 5.5.
Microsoft requires that Windows 8 PCs support no-reboot upgrade of graphic card drivers and Windows 8 PCs should resume in two seconds or less, but the two seconds resume requirement is laxed for ARM based PCs.
Microsoft has released minimum hardware requirements for new tablet and convertible devices designed for Windows 8. Microsoft has defined a convertible form factor as a standalone device that combines the PC, display and rechargeable power source with a mechanically attached keyboard and pointing device in a single chassis. A convertible can be transformed into a tablet where the attached input devices are hidden or removed leaving the display as the only input mechanism.
Hardware buttons: Must have five hardware buttons – ‘Power’, ‘Rotation lock’, ‘Windows Key’, ‘Volume-up’, ‘Volume-down’. The Windows Key to be at least 10.5 mm in diameter.
5-point digitizers: Microsoft requires that Windows 8 touch PCs use digitizers supporting a minimum of 5 touch points.
Broadband: If a mobile broadband device is integrated into a tablet or convertible system, then an assisted GPS radio is required
Display: Minimum native resolution/color depth is 1366×768 at a depth of 32-bits. The physical dimensions of the display panel must match the aspect ratio of the native resolution. The native resolution of the panel can be greater than 1366 (horizontally) and 768 (vertically).
Near field communication: Devices supporting NFC need to have visual marks to help users locate and use the proximity technology.
New button combination for Ctrl + Alt + Del: The new option is to press Windows Key + Power.
Storage: At least 10 GB free space “after the out-of-box experience completes”.
Graphics: Direct3D 10 device with WDDM 1.2 driver
Camera: Minimum 720p
Ambient light sensor: 1-30k lux capable w/ dynamic range of 5-60K.
Accelerometer: 3 axes w/ data rates >= 50 Hz
Magnetometer and gyroscope
USB 2.0: At least one controller and exposed port.
Networking: WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy)
System firmware: UEFI
Built-in speaker and microphone
Secure boot is a controversial UEFI-based feature to “prevent unauthorized firmware, operating systems, or UEFI drivers from running at boot time”.
Hardware makers who choose the optional Microsoft Certification will be required to implement UEFI. Microsoft will also require that manufacturers offer the ability to turn off the secure boot feature on x86 hardware, but they must not offer such an option on ARM hardware. No mandate is made regarding the installation of 3rd party certificates that would enable running alternate software.
In September 2011, Matthew Garrett, an employee of competitor Red Hat, raised the possible risk of Microsoft locking out alternative systems, leading to media coverage. Microsoft addressed the issue in a blog post, stating “the customer is in control of their PC. Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide customers with the best experience first, and allow them to make decisions themselves” which confirmed PCs would allow users to disable the feature. In January 2012, the company released specifications for Windows on ARM devices; Secure Boot can never be disabled on ARM devices, causing concerns, particularly in the Linux community.
Windows 8 for x86/64 processors will run most software compatible with previous versions of Windows, with the same restrictions as Windows 7: 64-bit Windows 8 will be able to run 64-bit and 32-bit software while 32-bit Windows 8 will be able to run 32-bit and 16-bit software (although some 16-bit software may require compatibility settings to be applied, or not work at all).
Windows on ARM processors (Windows RT) will only support the applications included with the system (including some Office 15 desktop applications), supplied through Windows Update, or acquired through the Windows Store, which will only provide Metro applications. Windows on ARM will not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop applications, in order to ensure the quality of apps available on ARM.
Metro applications can be cross-compatible with both x86/64 based systems and Windows on ARM, or compiled to support a specific architecture.
On February 18, 2012, Microsoft confirmed that in Windows 8 the Windows logo will be significantly updated to reflect the new Metro design language. The logo was designed by Pentagram partner Paula Scher. The formerly flag-shaped logo has been transformed into four window panes, perspective was added, and the entire logo will be rendered in a single solid color, which will depend on the user’s personalization changes.
On April 16, 2012, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will be available in four main editions, of which the Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will be available for retail sale to consumers in most countries. The other editions are not available in retail. The new Windows RT edition is only available preinstalled by OEMs on ARM based tablets and PCs and the Enterprise edition only by volume licensing.
The different editions of Windows 8 have been designed and marketed toward people with different needs. Out of the different editions (Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise), the Windows 8 edition has been designed for normal home users, Pro for tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals, and Enterprise for larger businesses and corporations. Windows RT is the edition that will appear on ARM based devices. However, the name has generated some controversy.
source : wikipedia