Looking at most OS in this modern era, i tend to see more of similarities than differences. When sometimes i stumble on blogs where you have people banging each other out about the superiority of a particular OS over another – Apple haters on one side, Android fans or Microsoft bashers on the other – i smile.
I like to see beautiful concepts in one OS being re-engineered or made better in another OS. For me that shows progress. When i look at Windows 8 and its radical deviation from status quo, I could not help but wonder where Microsoft drew the Inspiration from. Bill Gates aptly described it as ‘an important set of innovations’.
This write-up aims to investigate the origin of the innovations served with the Windows 8.
The Boot speed
Windows 8 boots in less than 10sec to the start menu, No longer do you have to wait for minutes just to log into a typical PC. Compared with windows 7 or earlier iterations of the OS, this is lightning fast. This is a feature that i enjoyed only in mobile devices but has been effectively replicated in this convergence OS. The fact that you can put on your PC and you get to use it within seconds is really worthy of commendation.
It starts with the lockscreen, which by default is dragged up with a finger to unlock – that is, if you’re using a “touch” device. Yeah, just like android or iOS. However, you can still swipe and make gestures even if you don’t a have a “touch” device. See details here. Microsoft actually knocked the ball out of the park here as Windows 8 is a gesture rich operating system.with support for up to ten simultaneous touch points, which opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities.
This is just like the pattern lock on android. I remember the first time i unlocked my Samsung S1 pattern lock in front of my friends, acting like i owned a device from Mars. It felt great.
Though the picture password on Windows 8 works for the laptops that do not have “touch” the effect is rather tedious as you have to use the mouse pad to draw patterns. The picture password feature will be enjoyed better on a touch device.
To enable it, press Windows + I to get to the settings charm. Click Change PC settings at the bottom right, and go to the Users tab. Under Sign-in options will be the Create a picture password button. This will give you the option to choose any picture, and then define three gestures anywhere on the image. Your gestures can be circles, swipes and clicks.
The Charms Bar
In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced the Charms bar – an omnipresent autohide sidebar that presents both context sensitive options for the currently active app and system wide options for managing the volume, brightness, internet connections, power options, notifications, devices, and context sensitive search. I like this new feature and to some extent, you can compare it to the Menu Bar in OS X, a functionally similar omnipresent bar that sits at the top of the screen with options that change with the active app while retaining options for accessing basic system settings like System Preferences and power options.
Get all your apps from one place, developers can build apps that are useful to a cross section of people, i know i have enjoyed Google’s play and i have gotten wonderful apps that made my life easier and guess what most of them were free.
With the billions of users already using Microsoft windows it will be but a short while before the Microsoft store is populated with apps.The Windows Store is expected to get more than 100,000 apps within three months of its launch.
Developers are already jumping in as the number of apps are increasing daily and with windows users accounting for 70% of the computer world,app builders are going to have a field day with windows 8
Customisation & Personalisation
This is now as prominent as on Android. This, for me, was an android edge – the ability for you to customize your device to suit you. With previous versions of windows you were limited to what you could do on your device. On windows 8 the new “tattoos” feature gives users another way to personalize their desktop or home screen background beyond changing the wallpaper and screensaver.
To add tattoos, users must hover the mouse in the lower right corner to pull up the Charms bar or use the keyboard shortcut Key + C. After this, select Settings and then choose Change PC Settings. Click the Personalization option and then choose Start Screen on the right to customize the color and add tattoos. Users can see a preview of how the tattoo will look before it is added to the Home screen.
3rd party apps
The inclusion of 3rd party Apps on the windwos 8 is a welcome addition just like on android. Windows 8 is all about the apps, so it’s important to find the best ones for your unique needs. Unfortunately, you need to sift through a lot of crap apps in the process, especially if you’re not using a Windows 8 tablet.
Desktop and laptop PC users don’t need to worry about the lion’s share of Windows 8 apps, because they’re usually single-purpose tools designed to replicate the functionality of a full PC on a mobile device. Since you have access to a full Windows desktop you don’t need just another way to look at photos or surf the Web—you need a way to do those things better.
Below is a selected few that I use:
Netflix – The Netflix app for Windows 8 is free to download and easy to use, with an attractive tile-based interface that’s intuitive to navigate on a touchscreen. Streaming movies through the app also seems smoother than streaming them through your browser, which is reason enough to launch Netflix right from your Start screen.
IM+ – Everyone needs a good instant messaging client, and although the Windows 8 Messaging app is functional enough,it supports only the Windows Messenger and Facebook Chat services. That may change in the future, but if you want to chat with all your friends right now across disparate networks (including AIM, Facebook, GChat, ICQ, and Jabber) Shape’s IM+ app has you covered. It’s free, it supports a wide variety of chat networks, and it lets you enable push notifications so that you can stay on top of your social life no matter what app you’re using.
TuneIn Radio – TuneIn does a fantastic job of presenting a huge assortment of AM/FM radio streams and podcasts in one slick app that’s simple to navigate
MovieGuide – Zühlke Engineering’s MovieGuide app, a handy tool for movie nuts, combines the film trivia of IMDb, the variety of trailers on YouTube, and the list-making feature of Flixster into a single app.
StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a fantastic way to discover new and interesting things online, and the Windows 8 app makes it even easier to stumble upon your next favorite video or article by updating the live tile with websites tailored to match your tastes
The infusion of live tiles in Windows 8 shows Microsoft’s drive to transition from traditional desktop usage to a mobile-centric persona, to integrate both the PC world (which by the way is losing market share to mobile computing devices) and the mobile computing platform. It is, however, interesting to note that Microsoft is being sued by SurfCast, an operating system technology designing company over the Live Tiles feature.
Back in October 2000, SurfCast filed for patent # 6,724,403 and was issued in April 2004. SurfCast describes the feature as tiles that “can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live — containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.”
This, more or less, describes what Microsoft’s Live Tiles are.