Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Windows 8 :Hidden Features

Windows 8 is coming in 2012: Here's an early look at 10 major new features and areas of improvement.

1. Boot in under 20 seconds? Windows 8 sports a new Hybrid Boot mode which drastically reduces (cold) boot time and will most likely be the default boot option going forward. In essence, it's a combination of "Log Off" and "Hibernate" -- the moment users click on the shutdown button, Windows closes all running applications, logs off and then goes into hibernation mode. Instead of booting up regularly, which usually involves loading hundreds of files and initializing services, drivers and so forth, Windows 8 simply loads the single hibernation file into memory and presents you with the log on screen. I've benchmarked the results on two machines and came away impressed:

2. Automatic Maintenance
Microsoft puts a heavy emphasis on optimizing and increasing overall stability of Windows 8: A new "Automatic Maintenance" regularly checks for solutions to problems (via Windows Error Report), runs the .NET Optimization Service and defrags all hard disks automatically -- all of this happens while the PC is on idle, of course.

3. Disk Defragmenter

Speaking of defragmentation, the new Disk Defragmenter is finally capable of handling SSD drives and allows users to perform the TRIM command much easier than in Windows 7.
n addition, I've found a new Windows service called "Spot Verifier". According to its descriptions and its related DLL files, it checks for bad sectors in real-time and marks them as "bad" in order to avoid data loss or damage. I've also dug up traces of some underlying file system changes that I couldn't quite make sense of, such as an entirely new file system driver called "NT Protogon FS driver", which looks like a kernel mode driver for some sort of (yet unknown) file system called Protogon. It's unclear, whether this is a major new file system or just some minor subsystem.
4. Windows Explorer
Windows Explorer is the next tool that received (quite) a UI overhaul and a perfect example of where Microsoft reduces the steps necessary to perform tasks: Like it or not, Windows 8 is likely to come with a ribbonized version of Windows Explorer, as first revealed by Windows experts Paul Thurott and Rafael Rivera. While actually working with this explorer for a couple of weeks we have to admit that, despite its hideous look, it's absolutely wonderful to work with. Day-to-day file tasks are simpler and the ribbon adapts to the file contents (for example, "Music Tools" below.

5. ISO mounting
Additionally, Windows 8 sports its own ISO mounting tool, thus eliminating the need to go and download 3rd party tools, which are often riddled with annoying toolbars and ads.

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