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8 ways Windows 8 improves on Windows 7

Windows 8 has been shown off for developers at the Microsoft conference Build – and although the version is not complete, there are some key differences that we can pluck out from its popular predecessor.

Windows 7 was a big hit for Microsoft, following on from the troublesome Windows Vista and reminding people that the Redmond giant was not quite ready to hang up its code just yet.

And Windows 8 will now try to build on that and show that Windows can work on anything from tablets to televisions, and still dominate on laptops and desktops.

Key differences of Windows 8

Here are 8 key differences that Windows 8 brings…

Windows 8 - keyboard

1. Touch friendly

Obviously the most obvious difference between Windows 8 and its popular predecessor is the user interface.

Windows 7 supported touch, but it was immediately clear that a true touch interface was needed going forward and, in Metro (the Windows Phone UI), this is what Win 8 brings.

That means tiles instead of fiddly menus and much quicker ways to get to the programs you want, as well as a much improved on-screen keyboard and handwriting recognition.

Start tiles

2. Start menu replaced

Replacing the familiar Start menu is a Start screen which allows the same kinds of live tiles and data as Windows Phone 7′s home screen, but also allows much greater flexibility for the user.

When you open an app that needs the desktop you still get the familiar recycle bin and task bar, but the Start menu button take you back to the Start screen.

Multi-monitorin win 8

3. Better multiple monitor support

Microsoft has decided that, with more of us using multiple monitors on our PCs, that it needed to overhaul its desktop management.

That means you can now have the start screen in one monitor and the desktop in another, or choose to have the taskbar on both screens with different icons on each.

You can even, shock horror, put a different background on each screen if you have multiple monitors.

Charms, ARM support and Windows Store

4. Charms

A key arrival for Windows 8 is what Microsoft is calling charms for search and share functionality as well as devices and settings.

These charms work across different apps, devices and settings and can be swiped in from the right of the screen.

The settings charm is contextual to the app you are using, as well as incuding volume, brightness etc. This also offers restart and the power options.

Charmed i'm sure

The search and devices charms are fairly self explanatory, but the share charm is interesting.

This offers the potential to easily share content, links or anything else with your contacts from any supportive Metro app; Facebook and Twitter support are apparently already in place.

5. Search

With the Start menu gone, search is available not only through the Search Charm but also through the start screen – just start typing and the results on screen are for programs and files.


You can also pick apps that you can search through – Internet Explorer to search through Bing for example.

6. ARM support

Until now, Windows has only supported what is termed x86 PCs – built on the traditional home computer – but that is all changing with Windows 8, which will support devices running on ARM infrastructure.

British company ARM’s chip designs are being used in a growing number of devices, and Microsoft is keen to make Windows as widely available as possible.


7. Windows Store

Although it’s not part of the dev build, Microsoft’s Windows Store will be a key part of Windows 8, offering desktop apps and an ecosystem for developers.

There’s not any news yet as to what cut of app sales Microsoft will take, but the company has indicated that it will allow in-app purchases.

Coming soon

8. Cloud integration

While Microsoft may not agree with Apple’s Steve Jobs that we are in a post PC era, it is clear that they are keen to make cloud integration central to Windows 8.

That means the potential to sync data to a SkyDrive, synced settings between PCs (including browsing history in IE, for instance) and photos shared across multiple PCs.

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8 ways Windows 8 improves on Windows 7