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Product: Windows 8
Company: Microsoft
See Pricing
Review By: Andre Da Costa

with Byron Hinson, Robert Stein contributing

Advanced Features - Part 2

Table Of Contents (45 Pages)
1: Introduction
2: Pricing, Editions & System
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

File History

Windows 8 includes some nifty new features such as File History, a powerful tool which builds on Previous Versions first introduced in Windows Vista. What I didn’t like about Previous Versions in Windows 7 was its lack of being readily available or accessible. In Windows 8, it’s a more Time Machine like experience allowing you to go through a files creation from beginning to present. The best way to use File History is to have copies saved to an external source such as another offsite storage device like a thumb drive, external hard disk or network location. When you plug in an external storage device all you need to do is open the File History applet in Control Panel and click Turn On and it will start backing your libraries, desktop, contacts, favorites and unique folders such as Skydrive. You can manipulate how often File History does backups too such as every hour, 12 hours or every day. To access the power of File History, just select a file in Windows Explorer such as a Word document and click File History under Home (tab) in the Open group. This will launch the File History program which displays a slideshow like interface for the file you are viewing. You can quickly navigate through the files previous iterations. A status bar displays how many versions of the file are available, along with that, you can use File History to restore a file to a previous or original location in addition to its main feature which the ability to restore a file to a particular snapshot. The interface is basic, but I believe this is probably a good thing and uses the familiar Internet Explorer look and feel which makes it easy to get the hang of and navigate. I most appreciate how readily available it is to setup and use. In Windows 7 it seemed like such a hit and miss, some of your files would sometimes create previous versions and sometimes it would not.

Task Manager

Task Manager first introduced in Windows NT 4.0 sees some big improvements. First of all, it offers the best of both worlds, you have a simple basic mode that looks like ‘Close Program’ dialog from Windows 9x which displays few details, while at the same time, you can have a detailed analysis of your system. The improved Task Manager uses a lot of colour coordination to give users a better understanding of how the system is functioning. These colour coordination additions are more like heat seekers used to identify which applications are using a lot of memory, network bandwidth, CPU usage and disk input/out performance. Another nice feature users will find under the Processes tab is dependencies, when you expand the tree of a process, you can see the dependencies of it. I also like that processes are grouped according Applications, Background processes and Windows processes to ensure that you are not messing with the wrong thing.

The Performance Tab is superbly done displaying again, colour coordinated views of CPU, Memory, Disk and Network activities. Each has detailed information, for instance, the CPU Performance tab displays utilization, speed, maximum speed, processes in use, available threads and handles, system up time, along with detailed information such as physical and logical processors in use, whether virtualization is available or not and cache information. I especially love the addition of the Ethernet tab under performance, there you can see more detailed information for throughput, and you can quickly take a glance at workgroup settings along with information about Network type and Internet Protocols in use. Task Manager also details information about applications in use on the Start screen, from there you can see CPU time, Network and Tiles information (not sure what that means). One thing I realized is, when you switch between Start Screen and Classic Desktop App; apps that were running on the Start Screen are automatically suspended. I believe this is to conserve energy and preserve things like battery life and better manage bandwidth.

Start up is a new tab added to the Task Manager main interface, here you can see information regarding programs that start up with the system and are available in the Notification area. You are also able to view information regarding dependencies of the program, its status and impact on system performance. If you are not sure about a program, simply right click on it and click Search the Web to get information about the program. The Users tab is more useful and organized, here you will see a list of logged in users along with a tree you can expand to see which programs are in use by that user and how much , CPU, Memory, Disk and Network usage is available that user.  Task Manager is certainly a lot more useful in Windows 8 and I plan on keeping it open more to keep an eye on how well my system is running.



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