PC users have been speculating on the features that might be offered by Windows 8 for some time. However, thanks to Microsoft planning documents shared with HP and other OEM partners that were leaked online recently, we've been to take a wholly unexpected sneak peak at Windows 8.
Kill a virus, but keep your personal data
Viruses, unfortunately, often force users to restore their machines to the factory settings, a painful process that involves loss of applications and personal data. Microsoft, however, is working on a new reset option that will retain files and personalisation settings while giving users an easy way to reinstall applications.
In one of the scenarios detailed in Microsoft slide decks, a user named 'Jon' (no relation to me) decides to reset his Windows 8 PC.
"Jon notices that his Windows 8 PC is starting to perform poorly and he can't figure out what to do," the slide says.
"He presses the reset button and chooses to reset his windows 8 PC. ... knowing that all his stuff is safe. Windows 8 automatically retains files and personalisation settings, and migrates the user accounts. Windows is restored to the factory image and restarts. After restarting Jon can launch the App Store to reinstall applications he purchased there and see a list of other applications that he had installed outside of the App Store."
Boot your machine near-instantly
Microsoft seems to be putting a premium on improving the start times in Windows 8. A March 2010 Windows Planning Survey polled 545 customers about 21 user activities, and found that starting the computer tops the list when it comes to 'highest importance/lowest satisfaction in terms of speed and performance'.
Mean boot times have decreased from 40 seconds to 27 seconds from Windows Vista to Windows 7, according to the slides, but Microsoft wants greater improvement.
"Boot performance is getting better but it is not 'instant on'", as one slide says.
Technologies in development could cut boot time in half, Microsoft's planning slides suggest. Windows 8 may also include a "new off state combining the best of hibernate with a boot/shutdown look and feel".
Take more control over your machine
One goal of Windows 8 is to simplify the user experience, but Microsoft also wants to give the savviest users new ways of interacting with the operating system. The new user interfaces will make it easier for PC owners to understand the resources their machines use, and improve start-up times and power efficiency by killing unneeded processes and applications.
"Windows 8 will arm users with an effective set of tools that will both deepen their understanding of the state of their PC and enable them to fine-tune their PC experience," Microsoft says.
"Users will be presented with helpful and intuitive views of the system, applications running, resources being used, helpful personal and historical context, along with actionable, timely and pertinent advice and suggestions."
See also: New Windows 8 features leaked this week