32 Windows 8 Features That Don’t Get Enough Credit.

Updated on 11 February 2014

win8icons

 

Windows 8 has its problems. We all know there are new user-interface issues to sort out and for Microsoft and its wide-ranging collection of customers it must be one of the most difficult challenges of 2014. There are new features under the hood in Windows 8 too but despite the fact that they help to make it the best Windows operating system yet, no-one gives those features any consideration. Windows 8 is not a broken OS. Windows 8  is an HDR-Computing OS with some truly inspiring features, if you stop to take a look.

Windows 8 is not Windows Vista all over again and don’t let anybody tell you that. Don’t dismiss Windows 8 without considering features that are truly ground-breaking and one’s you probably won’t want to give up once you’ve experienced them.

These are the features that don’t get half as much air-time as they should, and so we’ve listed them below. Send it to the next person that moans about the Windows 8 UI.

 

32 Windows 8 Core Features That Don’t Get Enough Credit.

  1. Always-on, always connected support. (InstantOn) E.g. 300hours screen-off WiFi connected on a single charge in the same way as a smartphone. (An Alarm Clock on a PC – Think about it.)
  2. A Sharing subsystem. App-to-app, app-to-service.
  3. Free hardware accelerated full-disk encryption on consumer PCs with TPM2.0 (E.g. all Intel Baytrail-T PCs)
  4. An application store. It works but needs better economics.
  5. Close architectural relationship to phone OS platform. (Reduced cost-to-port might actually reach zero-cost to port in the future.)
  6. High dynamic range of processor states and usage mode support. E.g. Haswell SoC S0ix state support.
  7. Best digital pen support in the business (business, education) including best handwriting recognition.
  8. Cloud account for settings, files, security information. Cross-device settings sync.
  9. Sensors support. GPS, NFC, etc. (I’m a big fan of NFC Tap-And-Send!)
  10. Fast boot, fast resume.
  11. Multi-DPI font scaling across extended desktops.
  12. Integrated web+system search.
  13. Simple 3G  hotspot setup.
  14. Better system monitoring tools.
  15. New product boot to user-account readiness in under 10 minutes
  16. Xbox music and video integration. Smart glass Xbox integration. Xbox game account integration.
  17. Simple recovery and repair options.
  18. File history.
  19. Multiple on-screen keyboard/language support.
  20. Hugely improved on-screen keyboard for desktop.
  21. Metered connection support.
  22. Quiet hours support.
  23. Notifications system (that needs a lot of improvement, granted)
  24. Save user files (music, photo’s, videos) on removable media.
  25. Activities available from lockscreen. E.g. Skype, Camera.
  26. Windows Defender (it’s not the best AV, but it can help consumers and could improve in the future.)
  27. Tiles UI. It’s a good structure for a touch user interface.
  28. Swipe down to close. Use it enough and you wonder why desktop apps don’t close when swiped down.
  29. Split screen apps. This is going to be much more useful when (if?) Windows Phone apps can run under Windows 8.
  30. IE11 under Modern. It’s a very good touch-enabled browser.
  31. Free apps such as Reader (which supports annotations), Bing News (yes, Bing News), Weather, Maps (Please add Nokia Here, Microsoft!)
  32. Integrated Family Safety accounts.

Got more to add? Want to continue Windows 8-bashing? Your comments are welcome.

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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill says:

    Windows 8 has taken some real flak unfairly. It’s main strength, which is most relevant here, is that it is the closest thing to successfully bridging the gap between mobile and desktop interfaces. It goes a long way to providing the best of both worlds; the flexibility and power of the original tabletPCs, with the ease of use and touch friendliness of the iPad +co.

    Having said that, some of your ‘advantages’ of windows 8 are only true in comparison to earlier windows versions (I’m not quite sure if you are trying to compare to windows 7 or other current OSs.. it seems a bit of both?). ‘Hugely improved on-screen keyboard’.. not close to the keyboards available in android. AV– something not needed for most platforms (largely due to MS’ success, I will admit), notification system way behind iOS/android.

    You did miss some of the biggest advantages for it in my mind though; direct X and the huge game support it brings, support for various programming languages (vs obj-C only in iOS and java only in android) and enormous legacy application support, and enormous driver compatibility.

  2. CheapMonk says:

    MS has potentially a Hit in the hands (one OS for desktop and tablet use), but it needs some polish (and a lower price). It deserves it’s lukewarm reception because it was a complete departure for the majority of the userbase, who didn’t need touch on their non touch screens. From a marketing point of view it’s a huge error. You have to be the same, but with improvements, and only if the user so chooses. First feeling is very very important, if not, it’s a reject pure and simple. That’s probably what happened. Imagine yourself trying a new car. If everything is different from what you are used to, you won’t like it.

    But after Vista, there was Seven. So there is hope for April with a revised version. Then, all what you say will be even more true.

  3. Bobby says:

    But everything really isn’t that different. It is still the same desktop running the same Apps. It has a redesigned app launcher that is a lot more configurable than the old start menu, but is really a lot like the Android app launcher used by millions of consumers, except with live and static tiles replacing icons and Widgets. The part that is completely new is the option to use the tablet style apps, and those Alps have there own design language that’s different than IOS or Android, but also very attractive. I think there is a good mix of new features and old functionality.

  4. Steve Kunzer says:

    Ready for a long one? Okay, conclusions first because TL;DR

    A few things became apparent reading through this – There are a lot of features that are pretty basic for other mobile operating systems at the moment. The fact that Windows has them too may (in your opinion) not be getting enough credit, but really, you should be trumpeting them separately in an article entitled “why Windows 8 is just as good as Android and iOS”, though I suspect you might struggle I would honestly like to see it such an article.

    There are other features that sound great, and many are something other OS’s do too (including MacOS and various Linuxes). So, again, Windows is playing catch-up. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but position it as what it is. If you trumpet this as “at last Windows catches-up”, that would impress me. Of course some other-OS fans might ridicule, but secretly they’d know, they have no real advantage now, and Windows has adoption and the desktop as a massive advantage.

    In summary, it is now a great alternative OS, with one or two nice differentiating features, key of which IMO is the alternative of a full desktop. So while I think the article was somewhat overblown, and running down the wrong track, there are the makings in there of two great articles about what the new Windows is and isn’t.

    ————————————————————————————————–

    1. Instant on. Works well.
    2. App-to-app (will be great when there are sufficient apps of reasonable quality, so it’s a tick, but a qualified one).
    3. No idea.
    4. The app store does get sufficient credit. It’s not great for two reasons: (i). Poor app search and sort, often badly reviewed apps hide better ones (and there aren’t many good ones to start with), and (ii) there aren’t enough apps. It seems to me that there are even fewer controls on the quality apps than Google has (and that’s saying something).
    5. Close architectural relationship to phone? Really? Can you (a) qualify this, (b) quantify this, and (c) write about it? Because as far as I’m aware Metro is a skin over the top of ‘traditional’ windows. Oh I’m not knocking the desktop improvements either, but neither is it actually anything like Windows phone architecturally. They may look the same but they’re a million miles away from running the same apps.
    6. Don’t know, is this significantly better than other OS’s?
    7. This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say that. I’m not denying it but I’d like to see coroborating evidence. What I will say is that I don’t feel the apps really support pen features well enough yet.
    8. Cloud account? Woo! Really? This is pretty much a ‘basic’ starting point.
    9. Sensor support (again pretty basic for mobile platforms).
    10. Fast boot – ooh, is that #1 again? Yes I believe it is.
    11. Font scaling? How does that compare with other OS’s
    12. Integrated web+system search, As a long time Ubuntu user I’m sensing a pattern to some of these new features.
    13. Great, basic for other mobile OS’s.
    14. Catching up to other OS’s in their system monitoring tools.
    15. LOL, no, My 3 new devices took a fair bit more than 10 minutes from first switch on to user-account readiness. Maybe for a seasoned veteran with all your ‘stuff’ on your Windows online account, but, just no.
    16. Those integrations are indeed a great key benefit for Windows, at least if you have an Xbox (I don’t but I accept millions do).
    17. Simple recovery and repair, sadly still needed from what I hear (haven’t experienced it myself)
    18. File history? Catch-up with other OS’s again.
    19. Keyboard, wasn’t this available in previous desktop versions?
    20. No argument on screen keyboard is better, but why is this a great feature? Improving something that wasn’t very good is a basic requirement.
    21. Metered connection support, nice, good feature, available on other mobile OS’s already.
    22. Quiet hours support. Catch-up.
    23. (really poor) notifications system. Feature. Hmmmm
    24. Save user files on removeable media? Really? c’mon. So catch-up.
    25. Lockscreen apps, interesting, not a big fan myself. Catch up?
    26. Anti-virus, sadly still needed, arguably should be baked into the OS by default anyway, but better to actually fix some of the vulnerabilities being exploited.
    27. Tiles, yes, I agree, I like the tiles and they are under-praised in many circles.
    28. Swipe down to close. When it works it’s nice (similar to Android swipe down to close) but it’s still a little flakey for me. Apps don’t always glose, sometimes they switch instead. You could argue that’s my fat fingers, but an obvious gesture should be honoured.
    29. Split screen on metro. Nice. I’m enjoying that simple feature on my samsung phone. Lol.
    30. IE11. No comment. It’s better than previous versions, but it’s still flakey with quite a few websites (and I browse around less than many other people do).
    31. Free apps, not very many, a few of them are quite good though. News is good, as is weather. Again though, it’s all catch-up. Anyone with an Android tablet gets all that too.
    32. Integrated family safety accounts? Not even sure what that means.?

  5. RambaSamba says:

    Metro or Modern just not skin. It itself is design language as MS referred.
    Regarding Close Architecture check WINRT (don’t confuse with windows RT here bad naming by MS :D) API and WINPRT API + Kernel on Windows + Windows Phone.
    Also MS said they are combining Windows + Windows Phone + XBOX at core.

    IE11 better on touch screen with HiDPI support afaik. Scrolling, Scaling pretty cool in my experience. While Chrome and Firefox not yet touch enabled/ lack of support.

    I may be wrong, but this article is about Windows 8 and not Mobile OSes like iOS or Android. So few stuff like 3G hotspot valid argument IMHO.

  6. Chippy says:

    My response to Steve’s original comment on Google Plus:

    Excellent response although I have to say ‘catch-up’ with other OS’ is not the topic here. Catch-up is good, needed, critical and thank God they included all those catch-up features over Windows 7.
    Some other responses…

    “features that are pretty basic for other mobile operating systems”
    Yes, Windows needs to catch up. Windows 8 has done a huge amount of that.

    Say “why Windows 8 is just as good as Android and iOS”
    It’s not ‘just as good’ it’s better in different ways IMO. I don’t think it will play to the same rules. In fact, it should not.

    “at last Windows catches-up”
    There are some leading features though. As before. It’s not about catching up, it’s about being better in different ways

    You are right. App Store curation needs to be better. (MS could give a % to bloggers in an affiliate scheme. That would generate good curation)

    “Close architectural relationship to phone? Really? Can you (a) qualify this, (b) quantify this, and (c) write about it”
    Yes, I have spoken to a number of developers. One developer has told me it took +50% time/money to create a Windows 8 app after creating a Windows Phone 8 app. I can’t write about it because i’m researching more data points.

    “I don’t feel the apps really support pen features well enough yet. ” That’s true of some third party apps. Here’s a very recent demo of digitizer support though. http://youtu.be/xY9bjNRJiIk

    “Fast boot – ooh, is that #1 again? ”
    No. Some devices have always-on. Instant-on and fast boot is for devices that don’t support that Connected Standby mode.

    “Font scaling? How does that compare with other OS’s”
    I refer to font scaling across multiple desktops with different DPIs. Not font scaling in general, which needs to be improved by 3rd party developers.

    “My 3 new devices took a fair bit more than 10 minutes from first switch on to user-account readiness. Maybe for a seasoned veteran with all your ‘stuff’ on your Windows online account, but, just no.”
    A recent device, on INtel Atom, a low powered processor, with WIndows 8.1 took 7 minutes. I did nothing but follow the instructions.

  7. D T says:

    Several things happened, or should I say, long in the making (and long in the waiting for us UMPCportal fans!), but the most important components resulting in Windows 8 tablets (Why don’t they make another pretty name such as UMPC or Origami or something this type? May be they discover mere pretty names don’t make a good platform) are these:

    1. Surprising triple jump in performance starting the Clover Trail and then repeat again with Bay Trail. If you believe in Moore’s Law (that is Intel’s gospel), then this should never have happened (thus proving Moore’s Law is a lie, actually it has already been proven that it was a self fulfilling prophecy, but everyone believed in it, b/c Intel is always right). Without Clover Trail and Bay Trail, Windows performance would still be ho-hum if battery life has to be stretched.

    2. Finally a new UI, call it Metro or Modern (again, a pretty name that had to be changed b/c of legal challenge, karma?) but w/o a touch UI, Windows 8 won’t be much help. Luckily, they can simply copy Windows Phone UI, which has taken 4 trials to get to this (Windows Mobile, Danger, Pink, Kin etc).

    3. Finally instead of constant throwing in more features and making performance suffer, and completely relying on the improvement (in 1 above) of CPU to compensate, since Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista, it has never stopped until Windows 7 suddenly became more efficient than Vista, proving that MS could do it, but they simply didn’t want to before that. Only the negativity of Vista has backfired and made MS change finally. Windows 8 improved some more, but sacrificed in some backward compatibility in both hardware and applications.

    But the world hasn’t stood still to wait for the next big thing from MS. The world has also moved in a rapid pace, and all of a sudden, mobile platforms have gained a lot of market share, because they are really good enough for most people for most usage. Nobody thought mobile platforms could have become so popular and with so many apps.

    Karma? The reason that made Windows successful was support for the most hardware peripherals and the most software titles, it’s ever been there as number 1. Who know that same strategy also work for iOS and now Android. (A MS Store rep told me that MS App Store has more apps than the Mac store, I didn’t want to debate him but that is really a bad comparison).

    Case in point. If it is merely Windows 8 core that has all the importance (features as above), then why wouldn’t this website give more space and time to the RT models? Don’t the RT run Windows 8 also? So isn’t it the same for all the same core features then? Obviously everyone knows the reason RT has failed b/c there aren’t enough apps, and people want to have a Windows tablet only b/c if there is only 1 device to go w/ (or to carry out), if one has to do some desktop apps for work or in a pinch, at least a Windows based (non RT) tablet can do it, while an iOS or Android will have to deal w/ it either via remote control (like RDP or Splashtop etc) or emulation (which is super slow), not as complete.

    So it really begs the question, it is still all about the apps. You think it’s funny but it’s not. And this is coming from someone who used to use the Amiga platform instead of the Windows or Mac platforms, and know the lack of apps is really a pain that one has to endure. (but at least otherwise Amiga was an excellent platform so the down side is tolerated).

    Mere awesomeness doesn’t make a platform popular. Technically, there isn’t anything wrong with Blackberry OS 10 (formerly Tablet OS) or WebOS (or Jolla Sailfish formerly Meego / Maemo etc), as a matter of fact, they also have very strong designs. So why aren’t they become much more popular? BB Playbook can show a video being played while in a small window being transitioned, which iOS and Android can’t do. So why did the Playbook fail? (I owned one at one time also so I am familiar w/ the product).

    I bought 3 Windows 8 tablets lately, adding to the ones I still own running XPs (one MID, one UMPC). But overall, I don’t see Windows 8 will be able to beat iOS and Android in the tablet sector, in terms of market share.

    Will Windows 9 beat them? Who knows. I can’t predict it, but with millions of apps already on iOS or Android, the world no longer revolves MS. And thus, that’s why MS had to admit that they failed again in controlling the future (first is Search, second is mobile).

  8. joe says:

    Was moving away from windows as windows 7 on my acer timeline was good but start up and shut down took too long
    got a android tablet .Then i got a htc windows phone ,what an eye opener.It really is great .Started using it much more than the tablet. Now have a i5 Toshiba u920 ,9second start up and windows 8.1 ,its very good. Did have a little fling with R T but don’t think it was as good as mobile now just waiting for Nokia 1320 phone and will be very happy

  9. D T says:

    I also have a Toshiba w/ i5, it’s 3317u on the Z930 and runs Windows 7 (the model got a refresh w/ Win 8 later). To me, it’s really fast booting up (never notice what the shutdown time is like but don’t think it’s bad) on the 128GB SSD. I really don’t think it is Win 7 that made your slow, but rather the performance of the system disk. I also have Windows 7 on traditional HDD and it wasn’t fast to boot of course. If you can upgrade your Acer Timeline to SSD then I think it will boot very fast.

    Although Windows Phone has many more apps to choose from than RT, I still think it doesn’t have enough choices for power users compared to iOS or Android. May be you are satisfied with the selection of apps, but there are some specific apps that aren’t available on Windows Phone that I need.

    What does Windows Phone do that is an eye opener for you? What makes it great? To be more specific, anything that Windows Phone can do that Android can’t? (I know of the speed test that MS has done for their phones vs other smartphones, on a challenge)? May be something I miss I don’t know but so far I haven’t discovered anything that is a differentiation.

  10. Bobby says:

    Here are some more advantages:

    1. A uniform UI across multiple platforms and input methods. People who say you cannot navigate the modern UI with a mouse are dead wrong.

    2. Its easy to make the start screen attractive even though it is highly customizable (unlike Android which requires more effort to make it attractive).

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