Enterprise Applications: Microsoft's Windows 8 Minimized Ribbon, Sensors Among New Features
Microsoft is prepping Windows 8's beta-also known as the "Consumer Preview"-for release later in February. Although the Developer Preview gave people the chance to play around with a rough draft of the upcoming operating system, that beta will provide a much better idea of what users can expect when the release version arrives sometime in the second half of 2012. Many of Windows 8's features will be instantly familiar to anyone who's used previous versions of Windows. The traditional desktop is still there, accessible via a "Start" screen of big, colorful tiles linked to applications (the better to port Windows 8 onto tablets). The new operating system has even borrowed a few design cues from other Microsoft products like Office: There is, for instance, a "ribbon" user interface for Windows Explorer (albeit a minimized one, which could come as a relief to those who dislike that way of navigating through options). But the biggest system changes tie into Microsoft's expectations that Windows 8 will find its way onto tablets and other ultra-mobile devices: The ability to mark a wireless network as metered or unmetered is just one example of this. In a time where users are abandoning traditional PCs as their main computing device in favor of smartphones and tablets, the need is greater than ever for Microsoft to adapt with the times, lest it be left behind. The following are some new Windows 8 features designed to make the platform more portable and easier to operate once users find a space to sit down and work.