Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Windows 8

We’ve been giving a lot of love to Windows Server 2012, but with the release of Windows 8, I figured one of us PFEs had to write a blog on Windows 8.

So hear it goes. My ten most loved Windows 8 feature list.

Update: This post is geared towards desktops and laptops. A tablet specific post will be forthcoming in the semi-near future.

Note: Not all of these are “corporate IT” centric.

1)     Start Menu

I was set to hate this. Really. I was. Promise. Take away the Start menu I have been using the last 20 years of my life?! How dare they!

But I gave it a chance.

And I LOVE it.

I love being able to hit the Windows key on my keyboard and just start typing to find and open any app. It’s faster than the old method on Windows 7…You know, clicking the Start button, clicking on the Search field (or Run, if you re-added it), and then typing the
name of the app or navigating through the Start menu to find the app.

  

As seen on the screen shot above, I can also quickly switch to search settings or files as well.

Of course, if you’re already on the Start screen, no need to hit the Windows key. Just start typing. The point is, the Windows key can help you quickly toggle back and forth between Start screen and the desktop.

Still not convinced? I know everyone hates change, but give it a chance. And don’t forget about the super-secret right-click menu. Just position the mouse cursor in bottom left hand corner. When the Start menu pop-up appears, right-click and you’ll get
something like this:

I use the Command Prompt (Admin) all the time. Again, it’s another time saver (I’m all about the time savers). Instead of clicking Start, Search, typing cmd, and right-clicking on the command prompt, selecting Run As Administrator, and clicking Yes on the UAC
pop-up dialog, I just right-click that little area above and select Command Prompt (Admin), and click Yes on the UAC pop-up dialog. As a side note, if you’re fond of shortcut keys, Windows + x will also bring up this menu.

2)     Client Hyper-v

No more Virtual PC. Hurray! Gone are the days of dual booting or having to remotely connect to my Windows Server to do something in a server VM because VPC didn’t support x64 bit operating systems or even server operating systems for that matter.

Better yet, any VM I stage in Client Hyper-v, I can transfer over to any Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host!

Client Hyper-v is the same virtualization technology that was only previously available in Windows Server.

I can build a test lab hosted entirely on my laptop and then export the VMs I created onto a server and into production.

We’ll delve into Client Hyper-v and Hyper-v in general more in future posts, but until then, many more details can be found on the Building Windows 8 blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/07/bringing-hyper-v-to-windows-8.aspx 

Additionally, for those of you that did install Windows Server 2008 R2 on your laptop just because Windows 7 didn’t have this feature, you’re probably painfully aware that hibernation was unsupported. You’ll be happy to know that Client Hyper-v supports sleep states. Virtual machines that are running when you close your laptop lid will be put into a saved state, and resumed when the machine wakes.

Speaking of sleep states, that brings me to #3.

 

3)     Sleep transitions

Have you ever just powered down your laptop because you just knew that it would take just as long (or longer) to resume from a sleep or hibernation state?

I have.

But I’m very happy to say that is no longer the case!

Not only did Microsoft make Windows 8 boot wicked fast through some new techniques (see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/08/delivering-fast-boot-times-in-windows-8.aspx or

http://blogs.technet.com/b/askperf/archive/2012/10/25/windows-8-windows-server-2012-faster-boot-process.aspx), but we vastly improved sleep performance!

I’d love to video this or do a podcast on this and probably will in the future. You really have to see it to believe it. But check out the video in the above blog. I know it is demo’ing startup, but resuming from sleep is just as fast. It’s awesome! :-)

4)     ISO Mounting!!

This has been an annoyance of mine for years! How hard can it be to create something inbox so I can mount an ISO without having to install some other piece of software?! Well, I’m not a developer so I will never know, but the great news is, this feature is built-in
to Windows 8. Simply double-click on any ISO and it is instantly virtually mounted as a DVD. When you’re done with it, right-click on the DVD drive to virtually eject the ISO. You can do the same thing with virtual hard disks (VHDs) and they appear as new hard drives.

Speaking of hard drives, that brings me to #5.

5)     Storage spaces

This isn’t just a server feature. You can create Storage Spaces on Windows 8 client too!

 

 

Since we recently posted on the wonders of Storage Spaces, I won’t go into the nitty gritty details. If you missed Martin’s post, check it out here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfeplat/archive/2012/10/10/windows-server-2012-storage-spaces-is-it-for-you-could-be.aspx

 

6)     Profile Sync

Under the User Accounts Control Panel applet (or during Windows 8 Setup), you can choose to associate your Windows account (or domain account in my case) with another e-mail account.

The e-mail account can be any e-mail account. It tells you to choose your favorite. You can then use this account to sync your various settings across all of your PCs.

We ask you up front (it’s a wizard) which settings you would like to sync:  

 

So I can sync all my favorites, my modern apps, my desktop personalization and my Lock screen, Start screen, and Account pictures across all my PCs. :-)

With that being said, you probably don’t want to use your domain e-mail account to do this (unless all your machines are domain joined and constantly connected via Direct Access, like mine). For my home PCs, I used my http://www.outlook.com account.

For more details on this and security information, please refer to the following Building Windows 8 blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/26/signing-in-to-windows-8-with-a-windows-live-id.aspx

Want your documents available too? Well, there’s… 

7)     SkyDrive

Update and sync files directly to SkyDrive. In fact, it’s built into File Explorer:

 

Simply copy documents, etc. to this folder to have it available via the SkyDrive App on your Windows Phone or via SkyDrive.com from other PCs. I do this for my OneNote documents. :-)

 

8)     Personalization

Windows 8 has taken Personalization a step further. Not only can you do the same stuff that you did in Windows 7 like change your theme, desktop picture, what’s on your task bar, notification area, etc., (and sync that to all your PCs using #6), we can now easily personalize our Lock screen, Start screen, and more!

One thing to keep in mind is that your desktop personalization and your Lock screen, Start screen, and Account picture personalization are separate. This took me a bit to figure out when I first installed Windows 8. Desktop personalization can still be accessed from the Control Panel or by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting Personalize as before, but the modern UI personalization is most easily found through the Charms menu. The Charms menu will popup if you place your cursor in the bottom right-hand corner or you can just do what I do and use the Windows + C shortcut to access the Charms menu.


 

 

Select Settings and Change PC Settings to bring up the following:

 

This gives you the ability to change a lot more than just your backgrounds. One of the features of the Lock screen is that when the PC is locked, you have the ability to view things like calendar appointments, number of new e-mails since you locked the PC, and more. You choose the lock screen apps. I encourage you to explore the various PC settings you can customize as there’s a ton of them! 

I personally like being able to change my Start screen theme the best. :-)

 

9)     No more CTRL+ALT+DEL at logon

Have you ever tried to press the CTRL+Alt+Del key sequence one handed? I have. Multiple times and with my little girly hands, it’s always awkward, I’m always annoyed, and it’s never an easy task. Well, now, when on the lock screen, simply hit any key (or click the mouse) and enter your credentials.

You can also press Windows + L to instantly lock your PC.

 

10)  File transfer Status

Sometimes, it is all about the little things and a file transfer status with more details and the ability to pause makes me happy.


If you have more than one file transfer taking place, we consolidate them all to the same dialog, list the data transfer speed, and provide hyperlinks back to the source and target.

 

If you’re as excited as I am about the release of Windows 8, check out all the content available on http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/home, other Windows blogs: http://blogs.windows.com/,and make sure to visit your local Microsoft Store!

Enjoy!!

~ Charity Shelbourne