When you look at the the Windows 8 reviews so far you will notice that many reviewers concentrate on the Metro interface. That’s understandable as the new interface means a big shift of how we used Windows in the past. Microsoft has packed a lot of features into the operating system that you may not have read about or discovered by yourself. This guide looks at those features so that you are in the known when others are still complaining about Metro. Lets start.
1. File History
File History is a new file backup system integrated into Windows 8. It basically saves copies of files so that they can be recovered when they are damaged, corrupt or lost. Microsoft recommends to use an external drive for storage, and the system is turned off by default.
To turn it on do the following: Open the Windows Control Panel. You can type in control panel in Metro and select the only entry in the results list. Navigate to System and Security > File History.
You can select a drive or a network location for use with the feature. It will only copy files stored in the following folders: libraries, desktop, contacts and favorites. Once activated, file copies are saved once per hour and stored there forever. File History uses a maximum of 5% of the selected drive. These advanced options can be changed in the advanced settings. You can for instance configure it to save copies every ten minutes or only once per day.
2. Storage Spaces
We have covered Storage Spaces previously. The feature basically allows you to pool multiple drives to create storage spaces that protect against data loss.
Pooling drives together alone is a great feature that some of you may know from previous versions of Windows Server. You basically combine multiple drives to access them under one drive letter in Windows. The system allows you to add new drives should you run short on free disk space.
The fault tolerance feature ensures that you can still access your files even if one drive gets damaged or removed from the pool of drives.
You need at least two hard drives for the Storage Spaces feature. You find it in the Control Panel too, under System and Security > Storage Spaces.
3. Windows Store
While you have probably heard about Windows Store before, you may not have had the chance to use it yourself just yet. The store basically gives you access to free and commercial Metro apps that you can install in the operating system. Free apps and games can be installed right away, while you have to purchase commercial apps before that option becomes available. A try option may be available which lets you try the app without purchasing it.
The store currently offers 72 apps and games. App wise, you find your usual assortment of weather, news and media apps there, plus a few that demonstrate the versatility of the app system. The CookBook app for instance gives you access to a full screen cookbook with detailed images, instructions and suggestions.
The recovery option is hidden in the Windows Control Panel. You can access it by changing the display from category view to small icons view.
Here you can run the refresh or reset tools. Refresh basically restores Windows to its first run state while keeping user files, while reset will more or less re-install Windows on the system.
Especially Refresh can be useful if you are running into issues that you cannot fix, and that system restore and related options cannot fix as well.
5. SkyDrive integration
If you are logging in with a Windows Live account, you automatically enable several cloud based features. This includes the automatic synchronization of preferences and customizations with a cloud server. This ensures that you can use the same settings on every PC that you log in with your settings.
SkyDrive, Microsofts cloud hosting and document management service, is also integrated automatically in this case. You can access the SkyDrive app in the Metro interface. Here you get access to files that you have already stored in SkyDrive. You can easily access your hosted files and add new files from your computer to be hosted on the SkyDrive servers.