As Windows 8’s commercial release launch date approaches, more and more people are becoming eager with anticipation over what Microsoft’s latest operating system will bring to the table. Many are excited over the prospect of incorporating a lot of touchscreen interfacing to go with the traditional keyboard-and-mouse setup, while some are apprehensive over the thought that the new OS would be nothing more than an overhyped transitional program.
Both points of view have their merits, of course; but that isn’t what this article is all about. Instead, I will be detailing five changes to Windows 8 which may be deemed surprising by most people (for better or worse), and which could probably feed more fuel to the debate fire both ways.
SmartScreen Anti-Malware Filter
Anyone who has used Internet Explorer should more or less be already familiar with Windows SmartScreen; but just in case you aren’t, it’s an app that automatically filters the stuff you download.
For instance, if you’re downloading something which IE isn’t familiar with, it’ll warn you accordingly; and if you’re downloading something which IE is sure is malicious data, not only will SmartScreen notify you, but it will automatically block the download as well.
It’s a rather nifty, though simple, app; and Windows 8 will be incorporating it not just with IE but to the OS as a whole. This means that even other browsers like Firefox and Chrome will be benefitting from it as well.
Less Disruptive Windows Update Notifications
Windows Update is a great program that (*eherm*) updates your system in the background while you work.
The problem is, after it downloads and installs your desired patches, it has a nasty habit of reminding you every now and then to restart your computer. It’s a necessary step if you want the updates to function properly; but that doesn’t make the notifications any less annoying.
Windows 8 softens the annoyances by forcing restarts only once a month, coinciding with the security patch releases. It’ll also give you three days to restart your computer, and will do so through the login screen instead of within the virtual workstation itself.
Windows 8 will be using Windows Defender, the OS’s built-in version of the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus program. While MSE is already free for users of older Microsofts OSes to begin with (they just have to download it), having an antivirus program available from the get-go doesn’t hurt either.
Defender of course will automatically get out of the way should you decide to install a third-party antivirus program so as not to disrupt both programs’ security files. That said, it’s still nice to see Microsoft beefing up its OS’s security for the benefit of those not exactly informed when it comes to computer maintenance.
No Integrated DVD and Blu-ray Playback
What isn’t available from the start is playback support for DVDs and Blu-rays. While seemingly strange, it actually makes sense for Windows 8 when you think about it.
See, the upcoming OS is designed to be operable as is, no matter the type of computer it’s housed in (desktops, laptops, or tablets). Since Microsoft has to pay licensing fees for codecs that allow for media playback, and since tablets and most small-sized laptops nowadays do not have optical drives, it would be a waste of money for Microsoft (and for consumers of the aforementioned computers, by extension) to have those codecs readily available by default.
Those purchasing computers with optical drives on hand will still have their pre-installed Windows 8s carry the necessary codecs, though. Also, if you’re the type who prefers building his own desktop from scratch, Windows 8 Professional Edition will ship with said codecs ready to be installed.
And of course, you can always download the highly regarded VLC Player program and its codecs for free.
No More Windows Aero
When Windows Vista introduced Windows Aero, people thought it was cool that they could now see through window borders to help them manage all the various programs they had opened.
Sadly, Windows 8 does away with this (along with the Aero Flip windows browsing feature). Ostensibly, it’s because they deem the flat, old-school look a cleaner one; but of course, we all know that it’s because Windows Aero consumes too much energy resource, which is a definite no-no for portable computers.