Windows 8 is an operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation as a successor to Windows 7. It was first released in 2012 and aimed to provide a more touch-friendly interface for devices like tablets and smartphones while still maintaining compatibility with traditional desktop and laptop computers.
One of the noteworthy changes in Windows 8 is the introduction of the Start screen, which replaced the traditional Start menu found in earlier versions of Windows. The Start screen is a tile-based interface that allows users to access their most frequently used applications and information quickly and easily. Windows 8 also features a more streamlined and simplified design compared to previous versions of Windows, with a greater emphasis on flat, modern design elements.
In addition to the new user interface, Windows 8 also introduced several other features, including improved security features, faster startup times, and improved support for multi-core processors. Windows 8 also included the Windows Store, which allowed users to browse and download applications directly from Microsoft’s digital distribution platform.
While Windows 8 received mixed reviews upon its initial release due to the significant changes in the user interface, it remains an important milestone in the development of the Windows operating system and has paved the way for future versions of this operating system, including Windows 10.
Windows 8 system requirements
The minimum system requirements for Windows 8 are:
- The Processor: at least 1 GHz or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
- The RAM: at least 1 GB (for 32-bit architecture) or 2 GB (for 64-bit architecture)
- The Hard disk space: at least 16 GB (for 32-bit architecture) or 20 GB (for 64-bit architecture)
- Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
Please note that these are the minimum system requirements for running Windows 8. If, while using it, you plan to use more resource-intensive applications or features, you may need a more powerful system. For example, if you plan to use the Windows 8 virtualization feature called Hyper-V, you will need a 64-bit system with a compatible processor and additional memory.
It’s also worth noting that while these system requirements will allow you to install and run Windows 8, you may experience better performance and stability with a more powerful system. For example, if you plan to use Windows 8 for gaming or video editing, you’ll likely want a system with a faster processor, more RAM, and a more powerful graphics card.
Windows 8 language support
Windows 8 is available in many different languages. Here are some of the most widely used languages for Windows 8:
- Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)
There are many other languages available for Windows 8 as well, depending on the region and market. Microsoft offers language packs for Windows 8 that allow users to switch between different languages on the fly, without the need to reinstall the operating system. This can be helpful for users who need to work in multiple languages or who are learning a new language and want to practice using their computer.
Windows 8 editions
There are four different editions of Windows 8, each with different features and capabilities designed to meet the needs of different users. Here is a brief overview of these Windows 8 editions and their main distinctions:
- Windows 8: This is the basic edition of Windows 8 and is designed for home users. It includes features such as the Start screen with live tiles, Windows Store, improved multi-monitor support, and the ability to switch between different languages on the fly. It was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012; it was subsequently made available for download via MSDN and TechNet on August 15, 2012, and later to retail on October 26, 2012.
- Windows 8 Pro: This edition contains all features of Windows 8, as well as some additional features designed for business users and enthusiasts. These features are the including the ability to join a domain, the BitLocker and BitLocker To Go encryption (these are both key features in Windows that consumers never think about, but they are essential for IT pros managing Windows machines.), Remote Desktop Connection, and the ability to boot from a virtual hard drive (Client Hyper-V is a virtualization technology that allows users to create virtual machines. With Windows 8 Pro, it will be available in a client version of Windows for the first time. The Hyper-V technology was previously only available in Windows Server editions). Windows 8 Pro is comparable to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is targeted towards enthusiasts and business users.
- Windows 8 Enterprise: This edition of Windows 8 aims at large organizations and includes all the features of Windows 8 Pro, plus some features such as Windows To Go, DirectAccess, AppLocker, BranchCache and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) enhancements.
- Windows 8 RT: This edition is designed specifically for devices with ARM-based processors, such as tablets and smartphones. It includes a touch-optimized version of Microsoft Office, the Windows Store, and support for Windows apps, but it does not support traditional Windows desktop applications. Windows RT was known in development as Windows on ARM, or WOA. It’s essentially a port of Windows from Intel x86 processors to ARM processors. All third-party applications on Windows RT must be Metro applications, and Metro applications must go through the Windows Store and be approved by Microsoft. This means that a Windows RT device can only run Microsoft-approved applications, just like an iPad can only run Apple-approved applications.
These different editions of Windows 8 are, of course, priced differently, with the more advanced editions costing more than the basic editions. We all know, everything has a price. Users should choose the edition that best meets their needs and budget.
Windows 8 key features
- Windows 8 Start screen lets you customize the computer’s home base with live tiles that show you real-time information from favorite apps, like the weather or incoming emails.
- Windows 8 grants access to the Windows Store, an online shop for downloading and discovering apps (software, games, music, and videos).
- Windows 8 eases the use of multiple monitors with different backgrounds, taskbars, and screen resolutions, giving users more flexibility in how they work and/or play.
- Windows 8 was designed also considering touchscreens, so users can easily navigate the computer with taps, swipes, and other intuitive gestures.
- Thanks to SkyDrive integration, you can easily store and access your files in the cloud from any device with an internet connection.
- Windows 8’s hybrid boot mode makes startup and shutdown times faster than ever, thanks to a combination of hibernation and shutdown features.
- Windows 8 lets you switch between languages on the fly, making it easy to work with documents and communicate with people in different parts of the world.
Critique of Windows 8
The release of Windows 8 was met with some critique. Such as confusing User Interface (UI) : Windows 8 introduced a completely new user interface, which was confusing for many users. The lack of an original Start menu, the introduction of the Charms bar, and the removal of the familiar desktop made it difficult for some users to navigate the system.
Compatibility issues with older software: Windows 8 uses a different architecture than its predecessors, which means that some older software may not work properly on the new system.
Limited app selection: The Windows Store, which was introduced with Windows 8, had a limited selection of apps compared to other app stores, such as Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
No support for Windows Media Center: Windows Media Center, a popular program for managing and playing media, was removed from Windows 8, which was a disappointment for many users who relied on this software.
Limited customization options: Windows 8 did not allow users to customize their desktop as much as previous versions of Windows, which was a disappointment for some power users.
Overall, Windows 8 was not as well-received as previous versions of Windows, its confusing user interface and compatibility issues with older software were major drawbacks.
Microsoft released an update to Windows 8, called Windows 8.1, in 2013 to improve some UI from user feedback previously. It brought back the Start button and made it easier to switch between the desktop and Start screen. Also introduced some new features, for example better search and improved customization options.
Thus, even with the improvements of Windows 8.1, the operating system failed to gain significant market share, but many users still prefer Windows 7 instead. So 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10, which brought back many of the original Windows features and was better received by users.
Nowadays, Windows 8 is considered a largely unsuccessful operating system in Microsoft’s history, and it is no longer supported by Microsoft as of January 2023.