From SkyDrive integration to picture passwords and Office apps, significant changes to Microsoft's new OS make it barely recognizable compared to predecessors.
Earlier this month, I wrote about some of the more talked about features that Windows 8 brings to Microsoft's OS environment.
Things like the Windows Store and ARM tablets are highly visible examples of how Redmond is radically reimagining its core franchise. However, there is much more going on under the hood that's equally noteworthy. Here's a look at 8 more cool facts about Windows 8.
1. Multilingual PCs
With Windows 8, Windows will, for the first time, give users the ability to work in any language they want, regardless of where they bought their PC or which model they chose. That's because, in addition to languages that come preinstalled, Microsoft will offer language packs that users can download to enhance linguistic capabilities. For instance, French could be added to an English PC.
Also, Windows 8 will allow systems to run more than one language, giving users the capability to switch back and forth. That could be a boon to families in which the children speak, for instance, English and Spanish, but the parents are only fluent in the latter.
Microsoft says it wants its SkyDrive cloud storage service to be "the world's hard drive." To boost adoption, Windows 8 will make it easier than ever for users to back up files to the service. Most Metro apps will offer a direct link to data stored in SkyDrive.
"This will bring a file cloud to every Metro-style app, allowing you to open files in your SkyDrive and save them right back to your SkyDrive just like you would on your local hard drive," said SkyDrive program managers Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, in a blog post. In the traditional desktop, Windows 8 will provide a direct link to SkyDrive through Windows Explorer.
Microsoft has added a number of features to Windows 8 to make computing more accessible for those with visual, hearing, ergonomic, or cognitive impairments. Among other things, Microsoft has enhanced the Narrator feature in Windows so that it reads highlighted text more quickly.
More languages have also been added to Narrator. Accessibility enhancements also extend to Windows 8 tablets. Magnifier, which enlarges what's on the screen, can now be activated through touch input. Microsoft is also working with assistive technology software developers to give them the tools they need to create Metro apps.
4. Battery Life
Microsoft is building Windows 8 with mobile devices in mind. As such, it's key that the OS enables apps to work as efficiently as possible and not unnecessarily draw on system resources. To that end, Windows 8 tablets that use ARM chips will be capable of entering a state Microsoft calls Connected Standby Mode. CSM will put tablets into a smartphone-like slumber in which key apps for messaging--and other services that need to be always on--can maintain sentience while the device sleeps.
Microsoft also is engineering Metro apps so that they only use CPU cycles if they are active and in the foreground. "The app is not using the CPU, and it is possible for the CPU to drop into lower power states," according to Microsoft program managers Sharif Farag and Ben Srour.