Episode 52: November 7, 2012
News and Trends
by Eric Escobar
A few weeks ago, Microsoft released a super-hyped operating system called Windows 8. This operating system has a completely redesigned look and feel, and has so far met with pretty positive reviews. Users and reviewers have complemented it’s faster and friendlier interface. But what’s the big deal about Windows 8 really? Well, in today’s podcast, I will go over 5 new features of Windows 8 that separate it from its predecessors.
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Feature #1: Storage Spaces
The first of the features that was introduced in this version of Windows is called Storage Spaces. Basically this feature allows you to add hard drives into a single “pool.” So instead of you seeing a bunch of separate internal, external, and USB drives on your screen, you can add all your storage areas into one large pool that will appear as one drive! This goes back to my podcast on how to store large amounts of data.Before this innovation, there wasn’t one great option for storing your various drives. But if Storage Spaces lives up to the hype, it could be an amazing new way to store digital data.
The impressive part isn’t simply Windows 8’s ability to treat multiple hard drives as one large one, but rather that you can set up the pool in such a way that one, or even two, of your drives can fail and all your data will still be intact. This gives your digital files resiliency to survive drive failure. And if you’re someone who doesn’t back up your data as much as you should, it could definitely save you in a pinch. Just keep in mind that even if you utilize this innovation, you should still keep an off-site back up, just in case.
If you are familiar with RAID, Storage Spaces acts as a sort of software RAID. It will definitely not have the read and write speed of RAID, but it’s a pretty simple solution that a home user can set up without a sophisticated technological background.
Lastly, if your computer kicks the bucket from something like a motherboard failure, all you need to do to revive the pool is to plug in your drives into another Windows 8 computer and voila – any other copy of Windows 8 will allow you to rebuild! How neat is that?
Feature #2: Refresh and Reset
Next on our tour of awesome new features in Windows 8 is Refresh and Reset. I lumped these guys into one group because they perform a similar function.
Refresh will set defaults on all of your system settings so that you can clear any system or registry errors that a program install may have caused. This would be a great way to wipe a virus from a computer pretty quickly.
Reset is similar, only it will basically do a complete reinstall of your version of Windows 8 to be like the day you bought it. This is great if at some point you want to give your computer away or sell it, but want to remove all traces of your data while still keeping the computer operational.
Feature #3: No Start Menu
One of the chief objections that you’ve probably heard about Windows 8 is that it has no Start menu. Microsoft has been using the Start menu for well over a decade and it seems like they’re trying to shake things up a bit. I’ve heard users complain that the new Start screen is difficult to use without a touch screen, and some people aren’t sure how to access their applications without that menu. Well, Microsoft addressed this issue by adding an awesome search feature. Simply type whatever it is you want to launch into the search field and select from there. This cuts down on a ton of wasted time searching through menus.
Feature #4: Syncing
I don’t know about you, but I use up to three different computers a day. I use my desktop when I’m at home because it’s powerful and has a large screen that allows me to play games and edit video. I have my laptop which I take with me whenever I go somewhere. And of course, I also use my work computer daily.
If this sounds like you, then Windows 8 has just the thing! You can now link all of your personal computers and sync the settings across the board. So if you set one computer to turn off its screen after 10 minutes of inactivity, you can set it up so that automatically all of your computers follow this pattern. This may seem a bit mundane, but to those of you out there who know my pain of having to change many settings across all of your devices, this feature will save much pain and frustration!
Feature #5: Visual Interface
Windows 8 has a redesigned task manager and copy dialogue which provides a much more visual representation of how data movement works on the computer. This new task manager let’s you easily see which programs are using which resources, along with network and processor information. And the copy dialogue no longer gives you just an estimated time it will take to copy or move your files. Instead, it gives you a graph showing the speed of your transfer along with other useful information.
So here’s the quick and dirty on Windows 8:
Storage Spaces creates a drive pool, which will help to consolidate hard drives and protect your data.
Reset and Refresh help clear up most software problems.
The lack of a Start menu actually makes finding what you want easier and more efficient.
Syncing allows you to manage settings across multiple computers.
The new interface provides much more information with easy-to-interpret visualizations of your data.
Do you have Windows 8? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Share them below in Comments or on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
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Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!