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10 things you can get from Windows 8 that Windows 7 just doesn't have

Tim Greene | Oct. 23, 2012
Microsoft's radical shift to touch-centric computing in Windows 8 is far from the only difference between the new operating system and its predecessor.

Refresh and reset

When Windows 8 gets corrupted, users now have two options: refresh and reset.

The first is the less extreme of the two. It reinstalls Windows 8 but preserves personal settings and personal data. It does this by saving the settings and data on a separate partition in the hard drive, installing a fresh copy of the operating system then restoring the data and settings.

It also preserves any Windows 8 modern apps that were installed on the machine. Traditional Windows apps, however, have to be manually reinstalled.

Reset lets users start over. It wipes away the operating system, settings, data and applications and reinstalls a factory-fresh copy of Windows 8. It's as if the machine is fresh out of the box.

Windows 8 offers what it calls a thorough option for wiping out data during a reset. If the purpose of resetting was to erase sensitive data from the hard drive and make it unrecoverable, the thorough option writes random bits over all sectors of the hard drive. While it doesn't make the data unrecoverable, it would require expensive gear that most people can't afford, Microsoft says.

Windows Store

An important part of Windows 8 is Windows 8 applications, called modern applications, which are built to highlight the touch-centric nature of the operating system. They are available only through the Windows Store, an online market where developers can sell their apps once they have won Microsoft certification.

The idea is to encourage development of apps customers will want in order to promote sales of Windows 8 devices. The upside is that if the development community grows as it did for Apple and the App Store, customers will have a rich assortment of fun and useful software. Also, the store can send application updates directly to users' machines.

Secure boot, trusted boot

Secure boot ensures the operating system being booted hasn't been corrupted by verifying that the kernel is the one that was signed with a Microsoft certificate. Trusted boot calls for launching anti-malware before the operating system itself boots in order to thwart malware that might try to disable it.

This is all new for Windows and security experts say represents a significant improvement in maintaining the integrity of the system.

Skype

Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, is integrated into Windows 8. That is, if customers buy the Skype application at the Windows Store, the app integrates with certain other apps such as the People app where the contact information for individuals is stored in the cloud and managed. Skype friends are automatically listed there. The Skype tile that appears on the Start screen is live and displays the most recent missed calls and pending messages.

 

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