[Review] What’s New in Windows 8?
We all know that Microsoft has released final RTM version of its latest OS "Windows 8" and its available for purchase or download to general public. Interested people can download a free 90-day trial version of Windows 8 RTM using following link:
Or you can purchase Windows 8 using following link:
Windows 8 comes with lots of new features and enhancements such as new Metro UI, Ribbons in Windows Explorer, Start Screen, etc.
Today in this topic, we are going to share all new features and interesting changes which we found in Windows 8. So without wasting time, lets start the review of Windows 8 RTM:
Windows 8 Setup Tutorial or First Sign-in Animation:
Since Microsoft has made some major changes in Windows 8 such as removal of Start Menu and Start button and introduction of hot corners to access Charms Bar, etc, many new Windows 8 users might face problems in finding the new stuff.
To help them, Microsoft has added a new animated tutorial (aka First Logon or Sign-in Animation) which is shown when Windows setup is finished and Windows is creating user profile and preparing the Desktop. The animation shows some images containing the text "Hi, while we're getting things ready, check out the new way to use Windows" to help users how to access Charms Bar and other new features.
This animated tutorial is actually an HTML file called "FirstLogonAnim.html" which is stored in "C:\Windows\System32\oobe\" folder.
You can press Alt+F4 keys together or simply press Esc key to skip this tutorial.
If you want to completely disable this first sign-in animation for all new users, you can do this by setting "Show first sign-in animation" to "Disabled" under "Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Logon" section in Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc).
You can also turn this animation off by setting value of EnableFirstLogonAnimation DWORD to 0 under following key in Registry Editor (regedit):
Windows 8 Boot Screen:
Microsoft has changed the boot screen in Windows 8 RTM. The new boot screen is minimal as usual and shows new Windows 8 logo which Microsoft shared recently along with a simple circle animation to show boot progress.
Windows 8 Boot Loader:
In past whenever you did a dual boot between two Windows OS, the boot loader used to show just after the BIOS logo and before any Windows boot. But Microsoft has changed it in Windows 8. Windows 8 boot loader is shown after Windows 8 boot screen that means first Windows 8 starts and then you see the boot loader to select desired Windows from the list.
Windows 8 boot loader follows Metro UI and shows the installed Windows OS as tiles. It also provides other useful options and tools to troubleshoot your system.
You can use your mouse cursor to select the entries. It also allows you to change the timer and default boot entry which is a welcome change.
Check out following interesting topics to learn more about this new boot loader:
- How to Access and Use Windows 8 Metro Boot Loader and Advanced Boot Options?
- [Fun Tip] Access New Metro Boot Loader While Running Windows 8
- How to Disable New Metro Boot Loader and Bring Back Windows 7 Style Boot Loader in Windows 8?
Windows 8 Login Screen or Welcome Screen:
Windows 8 login screen is very simple and clean. It shows a big tile containing your user avatar along with your username and password box if you have set the password:
Windows 8 Start Screen:
As soon as you login, the new Start Screen is shown which contains live tiles of all installed programs along with system tools such as Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Desktop, etc. You can use your mouse to scroll between tiles. A scrollbar is also shown at the bottom to scroll between tiles.
If you click on your username or avatar shown at the top-right corner of Start Screen, you get a few options to change user tile, lock, log off or add new user.
Check out following articles to learn more about new Start Screen:
- [Windows 8 Start Screen] How to Pin, Unpin, Resize, Move and Search Tiles
- [Tip] Organize Windows 8 Start Screen Tiles in Groups and Name These Groups
- How to Change Icons and Text Labels of Start Screen Tiles in Windows 8 and 8.1?
In Windows 8 testing versions, Start Screen was not very customizable and you had to modify system files to change its look-n-feel. But in Windows 8 RTM version, Microsoft has added customization options for Start Screen. You can choose Start Screen background from a given set of images. Also you can change Start Screen color by selecting a color from given list. If you want to set your desired wallpaper as background image of Start Screen, check out following articles:
If you don't like the new Start Screen and want to skip or bypass it at startup, check out following tutorial:
Windows 8 Desktop:
To access Desktop, you need to click on Desktop tile given in Start Screen. Windows 8 Desktop looks similar to Windows 7 Desktop.
A big difference which you'll notice is the removal of good old Start button from Taskbar. Microsoft has replaced Start button with a small Start Screen thumbnail which is shown when you move your mouse cursor to bottom-left corner of screen:
Clicking on the thumbnail lets you go to Start Screen again. If you want to get the good old Start button and Start Menu back in Windows 8, you can check out following topic:
When you right-click on bottom-left corner, it shows a hidden Quick Access Menu (also called Win+X Menu) which provides easier access to a few useful system tools:
You can check following exclusive tutorial to customize this new Quick Access Menu in Windows 8:
If you move your mouse cursor to top-right corner or bottom-right corner of screen, you can access new Charms Bar where you can access Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings charm.
Actually Microsoft has introduced new hot corner feature in Windows 8 which shows Start Screen thumbnail, app switch list and Charms Bar when you move your mouse cursor to bottom-left, top-left and top-right (or bottom-right) corner of screen respectively.
If you don't like these new hot corner features and want to disable any or all of them, check out following article:
Since Microsoft has removed Start Menu from Windows 8, you can't select power options like restart, shut down, etc from Start Menu. You can use following tutorial to add these power options in Desktop context menu for easier access:
Or check out our exclusive app which provides direct shortcuts to these power options:
Windows 8 Explorer:
Windows 8 Explorer is quite similar to Windows 7 Explorer. Microsoft has added the good old "Up" button and Office 2013 style Ribbon UI to Windows 8 Explorer which allows quick access to various system tasks. Windows Explorer in Windows 8 also shows program name and icon in titlebar. Program name is shown in the middle of titlebar.
Microsoft has removed Aero glass transparency from Windows 8. You can check following topics for more info:
- Is There Any Way to Enable Aero Glass Transparency in Windows 8?
- Finally a Way to Enable Transparency in Windows 8 Without any Bug or Glitch
Without Aero glass transparency, the window borders don't look nice. You can get thin window borders in Windows 8 using a simple Registry tweak as mentioned in following tutorial:
If you don't like ribbon UI, you can minimize the ribbon. You can also put Quick Access toolbar below the ribbon to use it like a standard toolbar as mentioned in following tutorial:
If you want, you can disable ribbon UI and get Windows Vista and 7 style command bar back in Windows 8 Explorer using simple methods given in following article:
Windows 8 Explorer also comes with new improved file management UI. The copy / move dialog box has been redesigned. Now you can pause/resume the copy/move operation.
New Aero Lite Theme, Old Windows Basic Theme Replacement:
Microsoft has replaced old Windows Vista and 7 "Windows Basic" theme with new "Aero Lite" theme in Windows 8. If your computer doesn't support Aero interface, Windows 8 will use Aero Lite theme by default.
"Aero Lite" theme is not shown in Desktop Personalization window if your system supports default Aero theme, but you can get it back using following trick:
You can also enable Aero glass in this new "Aero Lite" theme. Actually its a glitch in Windows 8. For more information, check out following article:
Update: The above trick no longer works in Windows 8 RTM.
New Aero Auto Colorization Feature:
Windows 8 comes with new "Aero Auto Colorization" feature which automatically configures the color of Aero elements, like Windows Explorer windows and the taskbar based on the desktop wallpaper. This option is available in Desktop Personalization window.
As you can see Microsoft has removed "Advanced appearance settings" option from Personalization window. You can access it using following tutorial:
New SmartScreen Filter for Windows Explorer:
Windows 8 comes with new "SmartScreen" feature which automatically warns you when you try to run an unrecognized program downloaded from Internet.
If you find it annoying, you can turn it off using following tutorial:
Windows 8 Task Manager:
Windows 8 comes with a highly modified Task Manager which is really an improved version of old Task Manager. New advanced Task Manager shows more details and comes with more tabs and options.
It also allows you to direct restart Windows Explorer which was not possible in earlier Windows versions.
You can get a similar Task Manager in previous Windows versions with the help of our exclusive app "Windows 8 Task Manager".
Windows 8 Lock Screen:
In previous Windows versions, login screen and lock screen used to same but in Windows 8 both are pretty much different. Microsoft has added a smartphone style lock screen in Windows 8. Following is the preview of Windows 8 Lock screen:
As you can see it shows the current date, time along with network and battery status. If you want, you can change lock screen background, date and time format as mentioned in following tutorials:
- How to Change Lock Screen Background Image in Windows 8?
- How to Change or Customize Day Name, Date and Time Format on Windows 8 Lock Screen?
If you don't like new lock screen, you can disable it with the help of following guide:
Windows 8 Metro Control Panel:
Microsoft has included a new Metro style Control Panel in Windows 8 which is called PC Settings. You can access it using Settings charm present in Charms bar.
The old classic Control Panel is still accessible from My Computer window. You can also launch it by typing Control in Start Screen or Run dialog box.
Internet Explorer 10:
Windows 8 comes with a new version of Internet Explorer which is version 10. IE10 comes with many new features, improvements and a few UI updates. You can check out following exclusive IE10 review to learn more about these new features and enhancements:
- [IE10 Review] What's New in Microsoft Internet Explorer 10?
- [Tip] Enable New "Flip Ahead" Feature in Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8
New File History Feature in Windows 8:
Windows 8 also comes with a new feature "File History" which automatically saves copies of your selected files so you can restore them if they're lost or damaged. You can access this feature using Control Panel.
Windows 8 Recovery Feature:
An excellent new feature in Windows 8 is the "Recovery" feature which allows you to Refresh or Reset your PC.
Refresh PC option reloads Windows 8 without losing your files, photos, videos, music, etc. Its like reinstalling Windows but better than it as you don't have to worry about your documents and files.
Reset PC option puts your computer back to the way it was originally. Keep in mind, it'll remove all your files. It might come handy when you want to clean your hard disk due to virus infection, etc.
You can access this feature using Control Panel or PC Settings as mentioned in following tutorial:
Windows 8 BSOD (Blue Screen of Death):
Now something funny and interesting about Windows 8. It seems Microsoft has replaced the classic BSOD which was full of text with a new redesigned BSOD in Windows 8 which doesn't show advanced details but shows a sad smiley face along with a line "Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn't handle, and now it needs to restart".
The error code is also shown below the line and it suggests you to search for the error code online:
We accidentally got this new BSOD while trying to install Windows 8 using VMware Player. Although the new BSOD looks nice but its not better than the classic BSOD present in previous Windows versions. The old BSOD used to show more details which was helpful in identifying the issue quickly and easily.
UPDATE: Microsoft has released a new hotfix "KB2929742" for Windows 8 to disable this new smiley face BSOD and bring back the classic BSOD with full details. First download the hotfix using following link:
After installing the hotfix, open Registry Editor using regedit command in RUN dialog box and then go to following key:
In right-side pane, create new DWORD DisplayParameters and set its value to 1 to show classic BSOD with stop error information in Windows 8.
If you don't want to install Windows 8 in your system but want to test its new features, you can install it in a virtualization software. It'll not install Windows 8 in your system and will not affect your already installed OS. It'll install it virtually. Check out following article to learn how to install Windows 8 in Virtual Box or other virtualization software:
Also watch following exclusive video showing the complete Windows 8 installation process in just 2 minutes:
And don't forget to check out other interesting and useful articles in our exclusive Windows 8 section.
That's all for now guys! Feel free to post your comment and let us know what do you think about Windows 8 new features and our review...
Posted in: Windows 8 / 8.1
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