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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.

Users can call others who have Skype clients or with a new dial pad in the application can call phones on the public network using prepaid minutes.


Before Windows 8, hardware for Windows machines had to be based on x86 processors -- the old WinTel model. But that changes with Windows 8.

A special version of Windows 8 called Windows RT is not only designed for devices with ARM processors, the only way you can buy it is packaged with the ARM hardware. Microsoft itself is breaking its longstanding tradition of letting its OEM partners bundle Windows software with hardware by introducing Surface RT, a Windows 8 ARM tablet with an optional keyboard.

The upside of ARM is that it consumes less power than x86 chips, extending battery life for mobile use that takes users away from power outlets.

Surface RT seems aimed at consumers who want the functionality of a tablet but also want to use traditional Microsoft productivity applications. To that end, Windows RT includes an abbreviated version of Microsoft Office. One caveat: The version of Office that comes with Windows RT devices cannot be used for commercial purposes, so a separate commercial license is needed to use Windows RT at work.


Like the name suggests, SkyDrive is cloud-based storage for Windows 8 documents, photos and PC settings. It can also integrate with Windows Phone, so a copy of pictures shot with the phone are automatically sent to the SkyDrive account. With an account, users can tap into their stored resources from whatever machine is available.

Also via SkyDrive, users can share whatever is stored there with others who have been authorized to do so, making it possible to conduct a form of collaboration. SkyDrive also has APIs that are available to developers who want to incorporate access to data in the cloud as part of the apps they write.

Multi-monitor options

For those who use more than one monitor with their desktops, Windows 8 has features earlier versions of Windows lack and oftentimes giving users several options for the same feature.

For example, where should the taskbar be displayed? Windows 8 doesn't have a right answer, but offers the option of having it on all screens, having it on all screens but displaying icons only for the applications on that particular screen or only the screen where the open application is displayed.

Windows 8 features new multi-monitor keyboard shortcuts such as for moving applications from monitor to monitor, enables dragging and dropping applications from screen to screen and displaying a single image as wallpaper so it extends from one screen to another.



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