Posted by : akshay sugathan Monday, November 21, 2016

 



Windows 8 the innocent looking new operating system of the Redmond Giant, Microsoft, got updated from Consumer Preview to Release Preview this week ahead of the scheduled date. The Notable changes include:-

 

New Metro apps

Starting with some of the major changes, the engineering team has added a few more native apps and a trio of Bing-powered apps: travel, sport and news. This time they have unified the look of the app bar that drops down from th etop of the screen. The options are app-specific, for instance (favorite sports and trending news), but the look of the icons remain the same.

Bing Travel 

This app integrates the most touted specialties of Bing, i.e trip planning. You can easily book flights or hotels, or view certain destinations, which you can pin to the start menu. The main page is a home to selection of featured locales, along with a motley collections of pictures, panoramas and travel articles. Once you bing into a specific destination's page, you'll get more detailed info: everything from maps to weather forecasts to even fare stats. While the only drawback of this app which i felt was, the non-existent of the social sharing button.

Bing Sports

New in the Release Preview is the Bing Sports hub, where we can follow our favorite teams or digest the top stories across all athletics. On launching, you'll be greeted by a top story, with other articles listed over the right. Scroll far enough and you will find schedules, followed by a self-explanatory area called "Favorite Team". Add in your favorite team by clicking the plus sign. Although the basics: basketball, hockey, baseball, various football leagues and golf have been covered, more sports are expected to be added in the RTM version

Bing News

Similar to the sports app, Bing News main page is crowded by a top story, though on the right side top headlines  in various categories are present. Click on the app bar to view news by trends, or by source. The media outlets, are broken down into various categories such as technology,business etc. You
can even pin custom topics in the start menu.

Web Browsing

Tough many of the changes account to stability improvements, the important tweaks include the addition of the new Family safety features and enriched privacy and security controls . This includes the addition of Do Not Track capabilities being turned on by default in Internet Explorer 10. The newest capability to be included is the "flip ahead" which allows users the option to flip between pages with the swipe of a finger, as well as a touch friendly Adobe Flash Player.

Mail

Thanks to the stable update now upon launching rather than crashing, all the in-boxes are listed separately on the left pane, this being a good start. Despite not suffering a single crash yet, the app still doesn't feel anywhere near as feature-rich as Outlook on the desktop. Although being able to view threaded conversations would be a welcome upgrade.

Lock Screen

Microsoft has rebooted the Lock screen which now offers a volume control button even when the laptop or tablet is locked. Even better, is the availability of pause or skip button. 

Monitor Support

As promised, the engineers at the Redmond have added the ability to drag an app across the screen and on to an external monitor, no tweaks to the settings needed. It's worth noting that both your PC screen and external monitor will have four "hot corners," which means even if you extend the desktop, there's no need to drag the cursor in order to pull up the Charms bar. You can do that by moving to the right end of your PC's screen.


Other notable changes include the renaming of "More PC settings" to "Change PC settings". Dig inside those menus and you'll find more color themes to choose from. Navigating around is even smoother than before, and fast. Booting up the laptop took around 15 seconds, about the same as the Consumer Preview. However, resuming from sleep took under 2 seconds about half of what it was in the previous version. Despite changing settings, Windows 8 would lock itself after only one minute of idling, an enormous bug hunt that Microsoft will have to do to get this ready for the public.

 The Desktop has had its betta fish background removed, which encourages you to choose your own desktop mode background. The lower left-corner Start button has been shrunk, so it interferes with the traditional mouse pointers less often. Harris explained that they are saving the New look for Desktop mode for the final version of Windows 8

Wrap-Up

Release Preview isn't the final look and feel of Windows 8, and is not the final performance; there will be more colors for the Start screen, a new desktop without the Aero Glass feature and the removal of lots of debug codes which will improve the stability and performance of the OS. But it does gives us a very good idea of the final version of the Windows 8 will be and it's robust and responsive enough for far more users to test it.

The significant improvements are in the Metro apps like Mail and calendar which were basic and unreliable before. It's also great to see Microsoft being bold enough to push the conversation on privacy forward by making Do Not Track standard.

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