30 best features of Windows 8

Not only will this save you having to pop to PC World for a fresh supply of blank DVDs, but it also provides the performance of running from a local hard disk/SSD, rather than an optical drive.

ISOs appear as virtual DVD drives, while VHDs are mounted in the same way as a physical hard disk in the new-look Windows Explorer.

4. No new hardware requirements

As with Windows 7, Microsoft isn’t raising the hardware requirements for the latest version. That means – in theory, at least – that any PC capable of running Windows Vista should be able to handle Windows 8.

Certainly, we’ve had no problems running Windows 8 on relatively ancient pieces of kit knocking around the PC Pro office. A touchscreen laptop running an AMD Turion X2 processor with 4GB of RAM coped perfectly with the new OS, as did a Core 2 Duo laptop with a mere 2GB of RAM onboard. Even a touchscreen Dell laptop with a lowly 1.66GHz Atom processor and 2GB of RAM passed with flying colours.

In short, if you’ve bought a PC any time in the past three or four years, it should cope fine with Windows 8.

5. Airplane mode

With Windows 8, there’s no more scrambling around for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth switches.

A new option in the Settings menu enables a tablet or laptop to be put into Airplane mode, just like a smartphone, so there’s no danger that you’ll send your easyJet flight catapulting into the South Terminal at Gatwick. Not that there was much chance of that happening in the first place.

6. SkyDrive integration

Until now, Microsoft’s SkyDrive has lacked a purpose in life. Beaten on features and flexibility by Dropbox and others, its chief benefit was 25GB of free online storage – but that was hard to take advantage of due to stringent file-size limits.

The integration of SkyDrive in Windows 8 could be the making of the service. The Consumer Preview includes a SkyDrive Metro Style app that provides access to any documents, photos and music you’ve uploaded.


It isn’t flawless at this stage; click on a document in the SkyDrive app, for instance, and you’re booted into the desktop version of Internet Explorer and asked to enter your login details again. The arrival of Metro versions of Office apps will hopefully smooth out that particular wrinkle.

Elsewhere, however, the SkyDrive integration works well, allowing documents, videos and photos to be saved through the Share facility (accessed from the Charms on the right-hand side of the screen). When emailing a photo from the Pictures app, the Mail app offers to upload it to SkyDrive instead of attaching it to the email.

What’s more, any Metro Style app that has an Open or Save dialog can access SkyDrive without the app developer having to add a single line of code.

The once crippling file-size limit of 100MB has also been upgraded to a far more generous 2GB. And SkyDrive will appear as a virtual disk in Windows Explorer; you’ll see it in the left-hand navigation bar next to local drives, although this has yet to be enabled in the Consumer Preview.

7. Windows Store

The Windows Store, while sparsely populated for the Consumer Preview, shows tremendous promise. Microsoft has borrowed the best features from other app stores and added a couple of unique features of its own.

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