Several people are getting upset at some of the changes that Microsoft made in Windows 8, especially those involving the user interface. However, while you poke around the UI, you must not forget that Windows isn’t just a UI. There are several back-end services and features that make the operating system work, some of them mentioned in the review that we posted earlier. Out of all the things in the Windows system, the back-end usually is taken for granted and/or unnoticed. This is about to change, since we’re about to reveal to you what paramount features you should expect in Windows 8 that will make you consider upgrading if you’ve decided not to.
1. Windows 8 Introduces a New File Transfer Window
A lot of people have been frustrated at the fact that, despite all the advances in technology that Windows Vista/7 introduced, neither of them included the ability to pause a file transfer or view more details about it, such as the speed. Windows 8 now includes this, giving you both the speed and the ability to pause. When you rename a file and Windows cannot complete the operation, you also get details regarding the error.
Perhaps one of the best things in Windows 8 file transfers: All file transfers taking place are moved into one universal window.
Windows error handling has improved, providing a queue of errors instead of stopping the entire transfer. Kudos to Microsoft for that! This is a very sought-after feature and we’re not sure why it hasn’t been included in previous versions, but here it is in Windows 8.
2. Windows 8 Lets You Mount ISOs!
That’s right! Windows now comes with the ability to mount ISO files using its native “mount” function in Windows Explorer. When you mount a file, you’ll see a new CD/DVD drive with the contents of the ISO inside it, just like you would with third-party applications. You will no longer have to consume resources in an application like Virtual CloneDrive or Power ISO.
3. Windows 8 Fits Itself in Your USB Drive
A feature called “Windows To Go” now exists in Windows 8, allowing you to have an “operating system in a box”, or rather, a tiny box. A bootable version of the operating system installs itself into a USB drive that can fit it, allowing you to take your Windows wherever you go and run it on computers that didn’t upgrade. You don’t have to worry about the USB drive being accidentally knocked off, either. The operating system freezes when you disconnect the drive, but continues its normal function once plugged in.
4. Windows 8 Introduces Metro to Desktop Environments
A number of people are upset at the introduction of Windows 8’s Metro UI into the desktop arena, but it’s really not all that bad. It’s kind of tough to navigate, at first, but you can get used to it very quickly because of its fluid design. I’m also slightly irked at the Metro UI, but it’s grown on me and others shouldn’t have a problem adapting to it. After all, the full-screen apps are a plus! With no taskbar and no other elements on the screen to interfere with the app, you get tons of precious real estate to work with.
5. Native USB 3.0 Support
In Windows 7 and other previous versions of Windows, you would have had to install a special driver to get the OS to recognize USB 3.0 adapters. For those of you who don’t know yet, USB 3.0 is an improvement over the existing USB 2.0 technology and offers connectivity at data rates up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0. At this point, the only operating system with native USB 3.0 support is Linux. With Windows 8, you’ll finally get that extra speed boost from your brand new digital video camera.
6. Windows 8 Gives You a Cloud-Based Environment
Microsoft’s SkyDrive allows people to store up to 25 GB of data on their Cloud storage system with their Windows Live accounts. Windows 8 will partially integrate with SkyDrive to allow data from applications to be stored on the Cloud. That way, any settings you had on your apps can easily be recovered in case you have to re-install the operating system. With program data, I’d assume you’d have to manually store the information.
As you might notice while running Windows 8, many apps ask you for Windows Live credentials and tell you that logging in will give you the best experience. They’re not lying here! It can make the difference between enjoying the application the same way all the time and having to start from scratch. Once you log in, all data from the application is stored automatically in the SkyDrive.
In anticipation to the release of Windows 8, you might want to start getting a Windows Live account if you don’t have one yet. There’s no harm in having extra 25GB of storage space in the cloud.
7. Windows 8 Might Do Away With NTFS
NTFS has been around for over a decade now, and one of the surprising things about Microsoft is that it never introduced a newer solution for storage, at least one that attempts to repair corrupted areas of the disk. They said they’d release WinFS in Windows Vista, which was a file system that would allow you to sort items by their relation to one another. For example, you can sort images of people in your contact list by their relation to another person. This file system was cancelled.
Enter the Resilient File System, dubbed “ReFS” by Microsoft. This file system, known only to be released for the Server versions of Windows 8, will probably be entering the consumer editions in the future, once a viable test of this revolutionary file system is completed. ReFS automatically attempts to recover broken portions of the hard drive without interrupting normal activity, but still keeps some of the most important features of NTFS, including BitLocker.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that Microsoft intends to immediately release a consumer version of Windows 8 with ReFS implemented. However, it seems that they might be releasing it in future Windows 8 products. Take it with a grain of salt, though, as we don’t know what will really happen. All that said, it feels rather exciting to consider the possibility that we could one day have more robust file systems on our computers that repair themselves silently.
To prepare for the release of ReFS, we suggest you partition your hard drive with a sizable system partition and another partition for storage, programs, and other things. As far as we know, ReFS might not work on bootable partitions.
Probably one of the best features of ReFS, you have Copy-on-Write, also known as “COW.” This type of functionality within a file system allows for lower virtual memory usage as two processes referring to the same memory won’t have private copies of the memory until one of them tries to modify it. Why show two different processes two different versions of the same data?
We’d love to hear what other features you’ve found in Windows 8 that you liked. These were just some of the most important ones, but perhaps you found something that you believe is more worth noticing. Let us know in the comments section below!