Windows 8: A review of the features you can expect from the Windows 8 release

Various sources have now confirmed an October 26 2012 Windows 8 release date. Here are some of the key features you can expect from Windows 8.

With every new release of the Windows operating system, one of the most significant elements is the introduction of new and improved security features. It is often for this reason that it is important, particularly for business users, to make sure that they are always using the latest software. In addition to the many major changes and additions, including a completely new user interface. Windows 8 also introduces an abundance of new security features, although these vary depending on the edition. The most exciting ones are explained below.

Secure Boot, All Editions

The new Secure Boot feature is designed to prevent any unauthorized firmware, drivers or operating systems from launching as the computer boots up into Windows. This is controversial, however, since it is likely to cause hardware compatibility problems for many older devices as well as compatibility problems with other operating systems which you may want to run alongside Windows.

Originally, the Secure Boot feature meant that any hardware certified for Windows 8 will only be able to work with Windows 8, thus locking out the possibility to use other operating systems, such as Linux, alongside Windows. Fortunately, there is also an option to disable this feature. Businesses will, however, find this very useful in securing corporate IT resources since Secure Boot makes Windows 8 extremely resistant to rootkits and other low-level malicious software.

2- Picture Password, All Editions

Since Windows 8 is designed with touchscreen devices in mind, it provides a new security feature which allows touchscreen users to enter a password by tracing three gestures over a chosen image rather than having to bring up the onscreen keyboard. Both touchscreen device and traditional computer users will be able to use this feature as well as the regular written password. If you forget your picture password, you will always be able to enter your written password instead.

3-Integrated Antivirus, All Editions

Windows 7 included the very basic free antivirus software, Windows Defender, although it also made the more advanced Microsoft Security Essentials available for free to users. Windows 8 comes with a new version of Windows Defender fully integrated. The new Wrindows Defender, however, boasts all of the features of Microsoft Security Essentials plus some additional features and perfomiance tweaks. Although this feature is extremely suitable for home users, businesses probably still want to use a more sophisticated, professional antivirus software instead.

4-SmartScreen Filter, All Editions

SmartScreen Filter is a feature of Internet Explorer. However, in Windows 8, it is applied to the operating system itself as well as Internet Explorer l0, which ships with the new operating system. SmartScreen Filter helps to ensure that only safe files are downloaded from the Internet or other sources onto your computer and it will warn you if you are trying to download something suspicious. Again, this is an extremely valuable tool for businesses although many home users will probably want to disable it due to the restrictions it imposes on downloading files from the Web.

5-Security Features in Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise Editions

Windows 8 Pro, designed for businesses and enthusiasts, replaces the Professional and Ultimate versions of the operating system. Windows 8 Pro is the fullest edition of the operating system. Just like Windows 7, Windows 8 Pro includes Bitlocker, Bitlocker To Go, file system encryption (EFS), domain membership and group policy object management.

These features all work very similarly to how they did in Windows 7 and Windows Vista albeit with some new additions to compensate for the other changes in Windows 8.

The Enterprise edition of Windows 8 is the same as Wndows 8 Pro, although only available to larger companies which have volume licensing agreements with Microsoft. These companies will have access to the new Applocker, Direct Access and Windows To Go features. Applocker provides administrators with the power to restrict access to certain applications. Direct Access allows computers to connect securely to company networks while Windows To Go is a version of the operating system which runs directly off a USB storage device on any 64-bit computer.

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