In case you haven’t heard yet, Windows 8 is slowly getting more and more media attention as it nears completion. Recently Windows 8 has been getting a massive amount of coverage since the release of its Consumer Preview, and it’s been pretty good.
If you’ve been following my articles in the past, you’ll probably know that I’m more of a Linux person, but this time I’m looking at the Windows side of things, and why I think you should upgrade to Windows 8 rather than skipping this release in favor of what will become Windows 9.
The most noticeable change will obviously be the new user interface. Instead of going for the traditional desktop with a wallpaper, shortcuts, and a panel with the infamous Start button, Windows 8 will go for what they call the Metro UI. Its inspiration? The interface found on Windows Mobile phones.
With this release of Windows, Microsoft is trying to create a uniform look and feel across all Microsoft products, including Windows computers and Windows Phone devices. There are plenty of people that bash the user interface developers for trying to make a mobile-style interface for a desktop system (especially on the Linux side of things), but I see a lot of potential with Metro.
Its strongest two features are style and simplicity, which most Windows users will probably enjoy, as a large portion of them are not exactly computer savvy.
New File System For Servers
Windows 8 Server will also be throwing away the NTFS file system we’ve grown accustomed to in favor of ReFS (Resilient File System), which was previously codenamed Protogon. It’s sad that ReFS won’t be included in the main client builds of Windows 8 (unless Microsoft has a quick change of heart), but NTFS seemed to work decently enough for most people.
One of the more interesting features of ReFS is virtual space pooling, which means that multiple hard drives can appear as a single volume. This feature has already been highly used by Linux in the form of LVM (Logical Volume Manager) and will be a built-in feature of the upcoming Btrfs file system. Microsoft is most likely including this feature in ReFS in hopes that it will regain some of the server market from Linux.
Windows Home Server also used to have a similar feature, but it was poorly implemented and tended to cause issues.
One of the things I am most looking forward to in Windows 8 is the improved hardware support. It’s nothing unusual that each new release of Windows offers better hardware support (and drops the ancient hardware from its support list), but Windows 8 is set to include a reworked thread scheduler, which is aimed at making multi-core processors work more efficiently. This is especially true for AMD‘s Bulldozer series of processors, as it is rumored that their chips are under-performing with Windows 7, with a fix waiting in Windows 8.
Resources & ARM
Last but not least, Windows 8 isn’t going to be a resource-hog like Windows Vista was compared to Windows XP. In fact, Windows 8′s hardware requirements are pretty much identical to those of Windows 7. However, Microsoft has been working hard on trying to get Windows 8 to run smoothly on devices such as tablets and netbooks. Windows 8 is also going to be released for traditional x86 processors (think Intel and AMD) as well as ARM processors (think those found in your smartphone, except bigger when talking about desktops).
Windows 8 needs to be more resource efficient if it wants to run well on ARM processors, and x86 users will benefit from all that work. This is probably the most important reason why people should upgrade to Windows 8, as there is virtually no barrier to doing so if you’re already running Windows 7.
Windows 8 is looking poised to take the operating system market by storm, and I’m very interested to see how well it works when it is released. If it follows Windows 7′s timeline to the market, you can expect Windows 8 to be released somewhere near the end of October. Until then, we’ll just have to play around with the Consumer Preview until our systems catch on fire.
What do you think about Windows 8′s features? Are there are features that, in your opinion, quite simply suck? What are your thoughts about the move to the Metro UI? Let us know in the comments!