Microsoft 2012 changes revealed
By Dexter Duncan
Those of you familiar with Xbox will recognize the tile type lay-out of the new Windows 8 Operating system from Microsoft. Windows 8 previews have been underway with developers and consumers for over a month, but the vision and overall design started trickling out more than a year ago with Xbox 360 and Windows 7 phone. The “tiles” can represent applications and other items and can be a small or large with or without “live” information. You can “unpin” or “pin” the tiles to your desktop without deleting the application.
One of the main limitations of existing Microsoft editions is that it does not work well in the age of “touch” tablets and phones. It also was designed when computer monitors screens were smaller and limited colour resolutions. The old design is optimized for a keyboard and mouse. Windows 8 works in both modes, look brilliant on big screens and is redefining how tablets will be used. Microsoft’s vision for remote devices goes beyond Apples version where you need a Mac Computer to do design work, where iPad is mainly for consumption of information (one-way). Microsoft’s vision is for the Pad and phones to be able to also do computing (two-way). The mobile version of Windows 8 (called Windows RT) includes touch optimized versions of Word, Excel & PowerPoint.
To keep things simple, Windows 8 desktop and laptops will come in only two flavours: Base edition and Windows Pro. Unless you are an enterprise/business, the base edition is all you need. The remote/mobile version for tablets and mobiles is called Windows RT.
For business, there are many must have features or improvements. Here are a few of them:
- Ability to encrypt information and data across your network. Called “BitLocker”, it will be essential for protecting data on portable devices like notebooks, memory sticks and hard drives.
- Optimized mobile versions for salespeople and operations staff who are often out of the office “on the road”.
- Windows 8 is about 10% faster than Windows 7 in benchmark tests*.
- A heap of new Windows 8 only policies with Active Directory
- Client Hyper V. This is a virtualization improvement which gives you the ability to run multiple machines, desktop or server on one physical machine.
The official release date for Windows 8 and the new Windows 8 phone is most likely in October 2012.
Should you upgrade?
If your office is already using Windows 7, there is no need to pay for an upgrade to Windows 8. You can always gradually upgrade to Windows 8 when you have new hardware or as you implement new mobile solutions for your remote sales or operations staff. If you are still on windows XP, you should consider skipping Windows 7 and going straight to Windows 8. Allow time to get used to the changes, but we believe the long term benefits will outweigh the teething time.
Microsoft is obviously planning some very big releases later this year. I plan on writing a more detailed review on SharePoint and some of the cloud services later this year.
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About the author: Dexter Duncan is a Manager at Empower IT Solutions. Contact Dexter at dd@EmpowerIT.com.au
1) Windows 8 Free Consumer Preview. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/download
2) Windows 8 Consumer Preview vs. Windows 7: Benchmarked. By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, 24 April 2012. http://www.ZDNet.com