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Product: Windows 8
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com
MSRP:
See Pricing
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson, Robert Stein contributing

Advanced Features - Part 1

Table Of Contents (45 Pages)
1: Introduction
2: Pricing, Editions & System
Requirements
3:
Installation, Setup & Upgrading
4: Initial Impressions
5: Daily Usage & Application Compatibility
6: Desktop
7: File Explorer
8: Start Screen Apps
9: Internet Explorer 10

10: Networking & Connectivity
11: Windows Store
12: Gaming
13: Advanced Features - Part 1
14: Advanced Features - Part 2
15: USB 3.0 Support & Security
16: Performance & Reliability
17: Support Services & Activation 3.0
18: Other Features
19: Conclusion & Online Resources

MULTIPLE MONITOR SUPPORT

Windows 8 greatly improves support for Multiple monitors and the additions are definitely a welcome. The process is easy to setup, I was able to connect a flat panel LCD monitor to my VGA port on my laptop and using the Windows + P command choose from a list of options which included extending or duplicating the screen. The Extend option which is the one I use, creates an extension of your existing desktop on the main monitor, so you can easily drag windows between two monitors. To make it easy to work with and reduce arm fatigue, Windows 8 automatically creates a second Taskbar and App History bar, so you can quickly access and launch your favorite apps without much movement between screens. Configuring your multi-monitor setup in Windows 8 is also easy, you can choose to have your Monitor configured for Portrait or Landscape along with identifying its physical location whether it is on the left or right or above the main monitor. Personalization adds another nice feature, you can apply a specific background to one monitor, just open Personalize, click Desktop Background, right click a Background picture and click on the option to apply it to either Monitor 1 or 2. When you add a second monitor, Windows 8 enables additional controls on the Taskbar properties, so you can adjust options to have buttons display on the second Taskbar if you wish or have windows display on the main monitor or not. These vast improvements in support for Multi-monitor should definitely make it an enticing upgrade. It also makes working with the Start screen a lot easier. For instance, you can have the Start Screen displayed on one monitor while you have another monitor just for the Windows Desktop. Based on my usage, this makes a world of difference when working with Windows 8. I was able to even use familiar tools like Snaps just fine when working with multi-mon setup, it is definitely easier and more productive. If you are going to invest in a new desktop or even a laptop, definitely consider a second monitor  with your purchase.

Hyper-V client

Hyper-V client is now a built in feature in Windows 8, if you are in the IT field and work with Windows on the server side, you might be aware of its availability in Windows Server 2008 R2 and as a separate add on for Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V is a hypervisor software which allows you to utilize the built in virtualization that might be available in your computers CPU. Windows 8 has one unique requirement when using Hyper-V, your processor must support SLAT (Secondary Level Address Translation). In my case, two of the systems I had Windows 8 setup on did not support it, lucky enough, a new HP Z210 I have in possession supports the feature. In order to use it, you first need to enable Virtualization in your System BIOS. Next, you will need to open Turn Windows Features on or off and check it off. You will be required to do a restart.

To find Hyper-V you need to open it either from the Administrative Tools (Control Panel) or from the Start Screen.  The Hyper-V Management Console features a not so self explainable interface, to get started, simply right your machine name, click New > Virtual Machine and begin the process of creating a VM using the wizard. The process is very straightforward and simple, you can allocate as much hard disk you have available (64 TB is the max supported), similar options are available for memory. A lot of the tools available in Windows Virtual PC 2007 are also available in Hyper-V, so if you are familiar with that program, you should feel right at home in Hyper-V. I notice I was not able to select a network adapter during configuration or setup one after, I was wondering if this has something to do with Windows XP. I still was unable to connect the Virtual Machine to the host, so networking was a bit of a problem, but I assume it is something I am not doing right, since I have done this before setting up Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008.

After installation, I was able to install integration features which makes it easy to move between the VM and the host. Managing the VM is also easy, Hyper-V provides a straightforward interface, and you can get an overview of things like VM state and up time. The Actions pane features additional tools you can use to configure a virtual switch for connecting to internal and external networks and SAN management. Hyper-V also allows you to do things like take a snap shot, pause, reset or move your VM. If you have an existing VM you can import it and start using it right away.

One of the immediate things I notice about Hyper-V it is how surprisingly fast it is, then again, I was using it on a machine with a SSD and 8 GBs of DDR3. I had setup a Windows XP Professional VM instance which I installed from an .ISO file on an external hard disk, the text based setup portion went by so fast I barely saw it. It reminded me of installing Windows 95 on a fast machine in Virtual PC 2007 (which shows how far we have come). Hyper-V is a welcome support, I still need VMWare for certain things, especially if your system does not support SLAT. Hyper-V is especially handy for running legacy programs, the features are more advanced and flexible. For persons coming from a Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate/Enterprise setup with Windows XP Mode, Hyper-V should make a good replacement.

Reset and Refresh

Microsoft finally gets it that people reload Windows every now and then, especially if it’s not working. One of the chores involved when reinstalling Windows is the process of backing up all your personal files. In Windows 8, you can now Refresh your Windows 8 without having to do this. Another enlightening feature is Reset, Microsoft now realizes that people either hand down or give away PC’s from time to time. The Recovery feature allows you to put back your PC to its original state the way it was when you just installed Windows, this is similar to Factory Recovery Tools that come on OEM branded computers, its finally now a built in feature in Windows. The process will automatically remove all your files. I wonder though if this will allow you to reset an OEM branded computer from DELL or HP to a factory default where none of the OEM bundled software is installed, just Windows 8 and the standard drivers.

Copying, Moving and Replacing Files in Windows 8 see big improvements. All three task display detailed information especially when working with large files. A Graph will display information indicating how bandwidth is being used along with input and output performance. A nice feature too, if you are copying and moving multiple files, you have the option of pausing one task in progress to prioritize and optimize the performance of a particular file. This is great in scenarios such as copying to a Network location or USB storage device. If you ever have to copy and replace similar files in a location on your hard disk and you encounter the copy and replace dialog pops up with a conflict you probably will often ponder how confusing this can be.  The Windows Team has resolved this with a more detailed dialog. Initially, you will see a dialog pop up called ‘Replace or Skip Files’ with three simple options when it detects there are files with same names or attributes are being moved to the same location.

  • Replace the files in the destination folder – If you are sure you want to replace the files in the destination folder, you can choose this option.

  • Skip these files – If you realize these files you don’t want to over write, you can select this option.

  • Choose the files to keep in the destination folder – This provides granular options that allows you to pick and choose what you want to keep. When you select this option, you will see a visual comparison between versions of the same file. You might for instance have a slightly modified version of the same file, but you would prefer to keep the original or you want to replace the original with the newer version of the file. Just check off what you need and click continue. Its much saner than before, definitely a welcome improvement.

 

 « Gaming Advanced Features - Part 2 »

 

 

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