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Windows 8: A Step into the Future

The technology world was waiting anxiously over the past couple of months since the release date of the highly anticipated Windows 8 was announced by Microsoft, as the pre-launch versions of the operating system had created immense hype around the product. The months of waiting paid off when the finished product was finally made available across the globe. “We’ve re-imagined Windows and we’ve re-imagined the whole PC industry,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, at the launch of the Windows 8 operating system.  And he is absolutely right. The latest offering by Microsoft is nothing like its older counterparts and is certainly a step ahead of its competition. Windows 8 is essentially the re-imagination of the PC concept and with users choosing to switch among tablets, smartphones and PCs, a new phase for the PC is underway and Microsoft, with the Windows 8, has ensured that this growing trend is complimented through an operating system which provides high level of quality and exciting UI across all the devices.

Windows 8: A Step into the Future

Microsoft’s Windows 8 user interface is as stunning as it is surprising. The Start screen is the first thing one will experience when logged in; no Start button, no desktop but rows of colorful, constantly changing interactive tiles. Immediately, this unfamiliar interface looks like it’s customized for the user, with friends’ faces ticking away on the People Live Tile and photos that have been stored on SkyDrive or Facebook showing up automatically on the associated Live Tile. Navigating through this new user interface might be tricky at the start but after a few hours it becomes second nature for the user.  Microsoft has created hot corners for all four edges of Windows 8, with the Charms appearing when you hover your mouse over the bottom right or top right corners.  The new Charms is a set of five icons that surface the most common tasks in Windows 8 i.e. Settings, Start, Share, Search and Devices. The operating system is now much faster and more fluid when compared to the previous versions and offers unlimited customization levels previously unheard of. The user can add as many application tiles on the home screen as possible with customizable sizes and has the power to group together various tiles and name those groups accordingly, they can now log in using the picture pattern option and can alter the color theme to their own liking. The Windows 8 is an operating system designed to make the user feel at ease.

The biggest change in Windows 8 is a new breed of apps. The new Windows 8-style apps are available on the new Windows Store that Microsoft is curating. Right now, the Windows store has about 5,000 apps to choose from but the number is expected to increase substantially in the coming months. Thanks to the new Windows 8-style apps, Internet Explorer runs full screen and has been redesigned as a touch version. Navigation is simple, with a large address bar and tabs view that both disappear as you navigate a page. Internet Explorer‘s performance is impressive, and the ability to sync favorites and history across all of your Windows 8 PCs is a truly essential feature. The new Music and Video apps mark a switch in the right direction for Microsoft. Music includes free, ad-supported Xbox Music streaming (available in 15 markets initially). Microsoft has a catalog of 30 million tracks worldwide, and offers a subscription service without advertising for $9.99 per month which will also work across Xbox and Windows Phone 8. An Xbox Games app also provides access to the Xbox Live system, where games that support Windows 8’s implementation are listed and achievements recorded.  The cloud is taking center stage in Windows 8, with the user’s Microsoft account driving all the syncing. Address book, photos, SkyDrive data, and even data within third-party apps can sync up to the cloud, and can be accessed on any Windows 8 device. The address book also syncs with other services like Facebook and Twitter. You can even sync all of your settings from one Windows 8 PC to another. With the launch of the Windows 8, Microsoft has held various promotional events i.e. WOWZAPP 2012 and Appfest 2012 for the developer community globally to kick start the app development revolution for Windows 8. It is only a matter of time before app developers dive deep into creating apps for Windows 8 which will only add value to an already impressive list of features and apps.

Windows 8: A Step into the Future

Windows 8 was officially launched worldwide on October 26, 2012. It is available as Full Package Product offering with retailers for US$ 69.99, as an upgrade offer for existing Windows users for US$ 15 and can be downloaded online for US$ 39.99.  The amazing Windows 8 was also made available in Pakistan through the trusted local distributor network. Microsoft Pakistan recently held a media briefing session for select media at a local hotel in Karachi where Sherif Morsi – Business Group Lead, Microsoft North Africa, East Med and Pakistan demonstrated the breathless technology that is part and parcel of Windows 8 to the excited media guests.

Speaking on the occasion regarding the thought process behind the new Windows, Sherif Morsi stated, “With Windows 8, we simply aim to change the way we’ve been interacting with computers for the past three decades. The main objective was to build an operating system which would seamlessly integrate all the computing devices and I can confidently say that we have achieved just that. We not only used our engineering strengths to create this new Windows but a lot of thought also went into its overall design.  A new PC age is dawning upon us and with the Windows 8; we are now at the forefront of the revolution.”

The blogger community and the technology enthusiasts at the media briefing had the chance to have a first hand experience of the software themselves. “Completely out of this world!”, said an eager tech enthusiast. “I had read the reviews, but after testing it myself, I am at a loss for words. Everything from the design to the built-in features creates a fluid user interface which has quickened up considerably when compared to the older versions of Windows I loved playing with the tiles and the way they can be customized completely – Windows 8 has been built to deliver a truly sensational PC experience. This is certainly a game-changing operating system from Microsoft.”

Microsoft is working closely with global partners to ensure a streamlined user experience for Windows 8 and it is no different in Pakistan. The company has made sure that they have the right level of products in place by making all of the Windows 8 products available with dealers across the country. Microsoft has taken special care to bring to the local market high quality products to compliment the exceptional Windows 8 experience. The company gives special attention to this region, a fact categorically highlighted by Sherif Morsi at the Windows 8 media briefing in Pakistan. Microsoft Pakistan has taken all steps to ensure that all Windows 8 upgrade offers are available in Pakistan at same time as the international market so that our valued consumers here can also benefit from the exceptional PC experience at the heart of Windows 8 and accompanying offerings including an Urdu language option in Windows 8 which will be available soon.

On a broader scale, Microsoft Pakistan tries to engage with colleges and universities and offers them comprehensive Microsoft solutions by providing them with customized apps which help in improved learning i.e. e-learning suite and Microsoft telescope. Microsoft understands that the local developers are highly talented and seeks to engage them with the development of apps for the Windows Store by setting up app development workshops and contests which benefit the local app development community immensely, who in return develop highly rated local apps for the Windows platform – a case in point being Popcorn Time app developed by Pakistani developer. The company also tackles the growing concern in the region regarding piracy by running a calculated strategy revolving around helping computer users in the country gain broader access to genuine, reliable, legal and safe software through on-going education, enforcement and engineering efforts.

Windows 8 is like a gateway connecting different worlds, the worlds in this case being the diverse communications and computing devices on offer in the market. Microsoft’s latest offering will spur the company’s vision for a completely integrated mobile ecosystem. Whether the customer is using a PC, tablet, phone, or almost any other device that comes along, they will be able to accomplish all the same tasks through the same user interface. The form factor will change, but the core experience won’t and this is what sets Windows 8 apart from all the rest.  It can run everything from a touchscreen app like Angry Birds to bulky software such as 3-D games and video editing tools. On paper, this all might look pretty simple but it is an idea and a product on which Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money and with early reviews which are doing the rounds, it certainly is an operating system which has all the capabilities to usher in the new era of computing devices.

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