Microsoft has worked hard to bring about a consistent user experience across various immersive apps. One of the important aspects of that consistent experience is the Charms Bar. It appears when you swipe from the left extreme in a tablet and when you move your mouse to the bottom left corner in a non-touch PC. It consists of four options – Settings, Devices, Share and Search.
Settings – It will display the settings related to the app you are running. For example, if you open the Charms bar while at start screen, it will show the preferences for the start screen.
Devices – It will show certain device options that the current running apps can take use of – like printing, etc.
Share - It brings up certain social apps through which you can share what you are doing. For example, if you are browsing IE and you click on the Share option, it will show Tweet@arama and Socialite, two sample apps provided with Windows 8 for accessing Twitter and Facebook respectively. Thus you can share the link of the webpage you are currently browsing.
Search – It will bring up Search, through which you can search the PC.
These functions are standard across all apps and the good part for developers is that they won’t have to write any additional code to take use of this feature.
Now lets take a look at the back up and restore options of Windows 8. Reset and Refresh are the two options that have been introduced in Windows 8. The Reset option is equivalent to restoring to factory settings. It will remove all the data and apps and will restore a clean copy of Windows. System Refresh, on the other hand, will retain all the data such as music, pictures and apps installed from the new Windows store. All third party applications installed separately will be removed.
The Previous versions feature, present in earlier versions of Windows has been replaced by File History. The File History feature will allow you to customize how frequently a file is to be backed up and to where. It works better than the Previous Versions feature and is more easier to configure as well.
Apart from adding new features, Microsoft has worked on improving some of the existing features of Windows as well. One of them is the file management basics such as copying, moving etc. As you can see from the below image, it includes a real-time throughput graph. The transfer dialogue boxes will show the speed of data transfer, the transfer rate trend and amount of data left to be transferred.
Also, you now have the ability to pause a copy operation which is quite nifty.
Windows 8 will also support USB 3.0 devices natively.
As expected, Windows 8 will come with Internet Explorer 10. There are two versions of Internet Explorer 10 in the Developer Preview. One is the touch centric one with chrome less UI. The other one is with a traditional UI that runs in the classic desktop. In the IE10 with Metro UI, if you swipe up from bottom, you can see tabs bar at the top and the address bar at bottom. Like IE9, IE10 also supports HTML 5 and CSS 3 and uses hardware acceleration for enhanced performance.
With Windows 8, Microsoft has tried to unify the Tablet and PC interface. For that, they had to start from scratch, changing the interface drastically. So there will definitely be a learning curve for a first time user. The challenge here was to make the tablet and PC experience alike, which I believe, Microsoft have succeeded up to a certain extend. But there is a lot to improve especially the transition between the Start screen and the desktop.
Well this is at last, just the developer preview and there’s a long way to go to reach the RTM. Hopefully Microsoft will fix the current issues by then.