Features of All New Microsoft Windows 8

Windows 8 is expected to include several new features, including USB 3.0 support, Live ID integration, the Windows Store, the ability to run from USB Flash drives with Windows To Go, and easier system restore options, among others.

The new platform is primarily designed for 16:9 screen resolutions, with 1366×768 and larger screens able to display two Windows 8 "Metro-style" applications side-by-side by "snapping". 1024×768 screens can display one application in full-screen, and 1024×600 screens can only use the traditional desktop applications.

Windows 8 also introduces APIs to support near field communication (NFC) on Windows 8 devices, allowing functionality like launching URLs/applications and sharing of information between devices via NFC.

Windows 8 features an extensively redesigned "Metro-style" user interface, optimized for touchscreens as well as mice and keyboards. A new "Start screen", similar to the one in Windows Phone 7, includes live application tiles. The start screen replaces the Start menu, being triggered by the Start button or Windows key, and is also the first screen shown on start up. The user can go to the regular desktop, which is treated as a Metro app with its own "Desktop" tile on the Start screen. Starting a traditional desktop-based application also switches to the desktop. The Start screen also displays the user's name and picture.

Windows 8 features a new login/lock screen that shows the date and time and notifications, along with a customizable background.
Instead of typing a password, users can create a 4-digit PIN for easy logon to the computer. This feature is optimized for tablet PCs, but it is also available to desktop and laptop users.

Another authentication method, the picture password, allows users to use a set of gestures in the selected picture to login. These gestures will take into account the shape, the start and end points, as well as the directionality. However, the shapes and gestures are limited to tapping and tracing a line or circle. Microsoft found that limiting the gestures improved the speed of sign-ins by three times compared to allowing freeform methods. Wrong gestures will always deny a login, and it will lock out the PC after five unsuccessful attempts, until a text password is provided

Windows 8 provides a configurable taskbar in the traditional Windows desktop that spans multiple monitors. The Multiple Monitor Taskbar can be turned on and off and is used to display the minimized windows. Similarly, Windows 8 provides the user with the ability to show different wallpapers on different monitors, or the same wallpaper stretched across multiple monitors.

Similar to Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Live Essentials, the re-designed Windows Explorer will use the Ribbon interface to enhance discoverability of commands and bring relevant commands to users depending on their file selection. For example, selecting photos in a folder brings up tools to rotate the photos and to start a slide show. The interface was selected to bring forward the most commonly used commands for easy access.

Additionally, Windows Explorer features a redesigned preview pane that takes advantage of widescreen layouts and the "Up" button removed from Windows Explorer in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is now included in the interface.

Windows Explorer will feature a new user interface for copying and moving files, offering both a simplified interface and an advanced interface for users to monitor the speed of the operations. Users now view all simultaneous file operations in one consolidated window, and can pause file operations in progress.[9] A new interface has also been introduced for managing file name collisions in a file operation, allowing users to easily control which conflicting files are copied.

Windows Explorer can now mount ISO, IMG, and VHD files as virtual drives through simple right-clicks or the Explorer toolbar[11] as compared to Windows 7 where VHDs could be mounted in a less-discoverable way, via the Disk Management section in the Computer Management MMC, or by using diskpart from the command line.

The Developer Preview comes with two new recovery functions, namely Refresh and Reset, both of which make a complete restore easier than a re-installation. The former keeps all settings & files of the user intact and only reverses all changes to Windows files to its original state and removes all installed programs and apps. The latter deletes all files and effectively re-installs Windows, but without any additional user input such as agreeing to license agreements or selecting a hard disk required. After a reset completes, the user will be asked for the product key and will then proceed to account creation.

Windows To Go

Windows To Go is an upcoming Windows 8 feature that will allow users to create a bootable USB Flash drive (usually called a Live USB) with Windows 8 in it, including the user's programs, settings, and files.It is planned to work on both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and both on legacy BIOS and UEFI firmware. In addition to that, the system will freeze if the USB drive is removed, and will continue to operate if the USB drive is inserted in the next 60 seconds after removal.

Storage Spaces is a storage virtualization technology which succeeds Logical Disk Manager and allows the organization of physical disks into logical volumes similar to RAID1 or RAID5, but on a higher level.

A storage space will behave like a physical disk to the user, with thin provisioning of available disk space. The spaces are organized within a storage pool, i.e. a collection of physical disks, which can span multiple disks of different sizes and different interfaces (USB, SATA, SAS). The process of adding new disks or replacing failed or older disks is fully automatic, but can be controlled with PowerShell commands. The same storage pool can host multiple storage spaces. Storage Spaces have built-in resiliency from disk failures, which is achieved by either mirroring or striping with parity across the physical disks. Each storage pool on the ReFS filesystem is limited to 4 PB (4096 TB), but there are no limits on total number of storage pools or the number of storage spaces within a pool.

Windows 8 will have built-in support of USB 3.0 for better power management and longer battery life.

Mike Angiulo confirmed at Computex 2011 that Windows 8 will use OEM Activation 3.0 instead of OEM Activation 2.1 (used by Windows 7), which supposedly makes it less prone to cracks.

On September 8, 2011, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 has short boot times, because it saves the kernel's memory to the hard disk on shutdown (similar to the existing hibernate option) and reloads it on start up.

Windows 8 will support the UEFI secure boot feature. This will enable a new foundation for an architecturally neutral approach to platform and firmware security. It is based on a public key infrastructure (PKI) process to validate firmware images before they are allowed to execute. A secure boot helps reduce the risk of boot loader attacks.

Windows 8 includes WDDM 1.2 and DXGI 1.2. New features were first previewed at the Windows BUILD conference and include performance improvements as well as support for stereoscopic 3D rendering and video playback.