It’s official. We are the 1,000,000th blog to talk about our ideas concerning Windows 8. The difference? We’ll bring you the very best bits of glorious geeky PC goodness that you want to know about the OS update. Where to begin? Metro is a hot topic in the computer world today–if not the hot topic. The ideas about its success and shortcomings have come in quite the variety, too. Some of my own friends are not alone in saying that Windows 8 is the next Vista (in computer guru terms: an utter failure), and others say it will be as revolutionary to the computer industry as Windows 95. The GUI (graphical user interface) has been redone, but that’s not all. The internals have been given the same minimalist philosophy as the UI and revised for serious performance. This means we should see a little more bang for your processor, if you know what I mean. With Windows 8, your average junky netbook might not be limited to Windows 7 Starter anymore. Truth is, I’m using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to right this post, and aside from one or two glitches to be expected in a beta, I’m impressed. But my opinion isn’t what counts, so let me get you up to speed. Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8 will come in four SKUs (or versions):
- Windows 8, the package for the common consumer and their PC.
- Windows 8 Pro, for those who want those extra features like file encryption, and the ability to host with the new Remote Desktop feature.
- Windows 8 Enterprise, yes, only available to enterprises, is Windows 8 Pro with a few extra IT security and network management features.
- Windows RT, short for Windows Runtime, refers to the new ability to, in short, run all your Windows 8, non-x86 apps, with a tablet-friendly, though still feature-rich, version of Windows.
The most significant difference between these versions is the architecture difference. Windows 8, 8 Pro, and 8 Enterprise are all based on the traditional x86 software architecture, while Windows RT is made for ARM, so it will be better for tablets. (Many call Windows RT “WOA”, short for Windows on ARM.)
What does this mean for the consumer? Microsoft’s goal is to make the answer to that question “not much”. The idea is that the experience of Windows 8 is constant between all the different devices and places which the new interface is seen and used. Problem is, this interface is completely new in the PC world, and to most people, the new Metro design is foreign. Aside from those using Windows Phone 7, Metro is a whole new design language to learn. Nonetheless, the world will learn all this fast if it gets in the hands as many people as have Windows 7 now. As for the SKU titles, the average Joe doesn’t need to know the difference, and Windows RT will likely be marketed as simply as Windows on a tablet.
One of the main concerns is the customizability of the OS. (No, I don’t think that’s a word.) While the traditional “Desktop” may be customized traditionally, the main Start screen is limited to a few designs and 9 colors. Three combinations are shown below.
Another burning question is what Windows 8 means for enterprise. With a specialized SKU of the OS, Windows 8 Enterprise, Microsoft is obviously serving to the needs of the businesses of the world. Jeffrey Sutherland for the Building Windows 8 MSDN blog recently described plans for allowing non-company computers (buy-your-own, or BYO) to easily access a company’s programs and resources via a WOA management client (check it out at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/04/19/managing-quot-byo-quot-pcs-in-the-enterprise-including-woa.aspx). This means a company could allow employees to connect securely to an infrastructure of tools to work cooperatively, or a hospital could allow patients to log in and access apps or resources, such as a survey. (Yes, that was all you, Lowdermilks on the Metro Developer Show.) It’s features like these that could really make tablets on Windows 8 beneficial to business.
The revamp of the OS is significant, and it’s going to take a while for many to familiarize themselves and adapt, but in the end, I personally believe that the new graphics-focused UI, and the effort Microsoft is making to make Windows modern, will pay off. That’s my verdict.
You’ll probably also want to see our Windows 8 gallery.