New devices, touch-friendly controls
Windows 8 is designed to work on a wider range of devices, including smartphones and tablets as well as laptops and desktops. The challenge of designing a version of Windows that looks as good on smaller screens as it does on larger ones led to the Modern UI (user interface), a tile-based interface that’s as easy to manipulate using a touchscreen as it is using a keyboard and mouse or touchpad . You can interact directly with the screen using your fingertips, or – if you have a new Advent laptop with Windows 8 pre-loaded – you can use the laptop’s finger-sensitive touchpad instead. Swipe your finger from left to right to move between apps, or swipe up from the bottom of the touchpad to reveal more app options. The good news is that you can use your existing mouse and keyboard too, as revealed in our guide 'Getting to grips with Windows 8'.
Buy a new Advent laptop with Windows 8 pre-loaded, and you can use its new touch-sensitive touchpad to control Windows
A Modern User Interface
The stripped-down Modern UI is designed to let you get on with using your PC without being distracted by unnecessary features such as toolbars, dropdown menus and desktop icons. It begins at the new Windows 8 Start screen, which uses a mixture of tiles and program shortcut icons to give you quick and easy access to all parts of your PC.
The tiles provide shortcuts to special programs called ‘apps’, which use the Modern UI to deliver a minimalist, distraction-free environment with large buttons and easy-to-navigate features. Apps are designed to run full-screen, but you can place two apps side-by-side. You can even run an app side-by-side with the traditional Windows desktop, which is accessible from the Start screen via the Desktop tile. This gives you access to older applications and programs that haven’t been designed specifically for the Modern UI.
The new Windows 8 Start screen puts both Modern UI apps and traditional programs at your fingertips
A charm offensive
Windows 8 introduces the Charms bar, which appears on the right-hand edge of the screen. This provides you with shortcuts to four tools: Search, Share, Devices and Settings. The Share option lets you quickly share content from one app – such as your photos – with another app or linked service such as Facebook (see Stay connected). Settings provides access to various configuration tools, as well as the Shutdown and Restart options (select Power).
Share content from one app to another using the easily accessible Share charm
Faster and safer
Windows 8 comes with an updated version of Windows Defender, which now offers both anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, giving you basic security from the get-go. Apps can only be downloaded through the Windows Store, which blocks all malicious software, while the SmartScreen Filter prevents unknown or dangerous programs from being downloaded and installed.
Windows 8 also starts up much quicker than Windows 7, thanks to the fact that it uses less memory. This means just about any PC capable of running Windows 7 can also run Windows 8 and enjoy better performance to boot. There are a host of other subtle tweaks and improvements too, from the new File History feature, which backs-up different revisions of the same file to the redesigned File Explorer tool. File Explorer sports a ribbon-like interface similar to that in Microsoft Office for quickly and easily browsing your files.
New security measures include the addition of anti-virus protection to Windows Defender
All in all, Windows 8 represents a major step forward in the history of Windows, and now is the perfect time to either purchase a new PC with Windows 8 pre-installed or upgrade your existing Advent PC with the help of our guides.