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[td]Download Now: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso
Welcome to the Windows 8 Megathread. Windows 8 is right on time, and should be expected around October 2012. Read on to find out more.
Perhaps the most talked debated feature of 8 is the new start menu.
The new start menu isn't a menu at all. In fact, it's a screen! That's right, the start menu now takes up your entire display, not just the little 400x600 area it took up before.
Many people seem to have the idea that this is the new desktop and they don't like it. It's not true! Your traditional desktop is an icon on the start screen, only a click away.
The new start screen also allows you to also launch new applications, commonly called "Metro Style" applications. These applications are full screen immersive applications - think of them as apps on a tablet, phone, whatever. These applications do not have to be touch first, however. Many metro applications work just as well with a keyboard and mouse. For example, the popular game "Cut The Rope" was modified to be a Metro application that works just as well with a touch screen as well as a mouse.
But to get to this new start screen, you must log in. There is a new way to log into windows.
Instead of the traditional logon you are greeted with a full sized picture, along with the time and a few live feeds of information. To log in, you simply tap the spacebar (or swipe from the bottom, if you have a touch device) to enter your password and / or go to the start screen. You also have the option to enter a picture password, where you can perform different gestures over a photo to login.
The next cool feature in Windows 8 is "System Refresh/Reset".
System Refresh allows you to do a format of your computer while keeping most of your data intact - your metro style applications, your files, documents, etc. It unfortunately does not keep your desktop apps.
System Reset allows you to do a complete format and restores your computer back to its out-of-box state. (Tip: You can actually create the image it uses to reset. So you can install all your games, etc and set that as the image). It's useful when you want to keep nothing - or have everything backed up to your SkyDrive account (And we'll get into that later as well).
On the desktop side of things, the Ribbon has been added to Explorer.
Don't be afraid, it looks like a waste of space, but in fact it actually fits more on the screen that the old Explorer window did. The buttons in the ribbon are useful for both computer noobs and power users alike. If you don't like it, collapse it. Simple as that. After trying it out I have found it incredibly useful.
Task manager has also been updated, providing a more detailed view to your running processes and applications - including graphs and statistics.
There is a new "file history" system to keep your files backed up - similar to Apple's Time Capsule.
There is also a new integration with Windows Skydrive - you get 25GB of storage space for whatever you want - great for backing up files before a format or just to be safe from data loss.
A webcam app is included by deafult. Exciting.
Portable Workspaces are a new feature for enterprise editions - allowing people to take their computer anywhere they go on a 32GB+ flash drive. If it can boot from a flash drive, they can use their computer on it.
There are many other small things added into Windows 8 - changes have been made so that your computer boots faster, shuts down faster, has a longer battery life, and many other performance improvements. Since Microsoft's antitrust agreement has expired, many features, such as an Antivirus program (more detail below) and a PDF reader, are now available out of the box.
A built in-antivirus, Windows Defender, now is included by default. (Windows Defender used to be only an anti-spyware application, but it has been expanded to be a full antivirus program - likely based off of the highly successful Microsoft Security Essentials.
Windows 8 went RTM (released to manufacturers, including partners like HP) on August 1st. Expect to see it hitting shelves on October 26th, 2012.
The Release Preview is available on Microsoft's website. See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso for more info.