Microsoft Windows 8: 10 Must-Have Features

News Analysis: Windows 8 is scheduled to hit store shelves in 2012. When it does, Microsoft must deliver features that will ensure that Windows will remain the dominant desktop operating system.

Even though Windows 7 is performing extremely well around the world as the fastest-selling version of Microsoft's operating system ever, the company already is working on Windows 8.

For now, it has been relatively tight-lipped about the features Windows 8 will bring to the table, but it expects to make it available to customers in about two years. Between now and then, the company will be doing everything it can to build upon the success of Windows 7.

Exactly how it will achieve that goal is unknown at this point. The marketplace is changing rapidly, and some of the ideas that might have worked in 2010 won't necessarily work in 2012, when new products and software are available to customers. Realizing that, Microsoft needs to think about bringing several features to Windows 8 that will help it stay atop the highly competitive software market.

Read on to find out what kind of features the software giant must make available in Windows 8 when the software finally launches in a couple years.

1. A Mac App Store-Like Offering

When Apple showed off the new Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, it also unveiled the Mac App Store. That marketplace will allow developers to create programs in the same way they would on the iPad for Mac OS X. Consumers will be able to download apps at a negligible fee and get the kind of functionality they've come to enjoy on Apple's mobile products. If that store is successful, Microsoft will have no other choice but to follow suit. It will simply become a necessity.

2. Far better security

Windows 7 is far more secure than Windows Vista was when that operating system launched. But that doesn't mean that Microsoft doesn't have more improving to do. Quite the contrary, the software company needs to ensure that Windows 8 builds upon the security advances that Windows 7 brought to the table. If it succeeds, Microsoft will go a long way in solidifying its position as a leader in the OS market.

3. Faster boot times

With the release of the MacBook Air, Apple is making it much quicker for consumers to boot up their machines. Granted, that is due in main part to the device's solid-state drive, but it's one of the features most consumers covet. Realizing that, Microsoft must make Windows 8 more efficient at booting up. Today's technology customers penalize delays on the Web and in software. Microsoft must keep that in mind.

4. Real tablet support

Although Microsoft is offering a version of Windows 7 on tablets, there is little debating that that operating system leaves much to be desired on the tablet platform. In fact, many that have used Windows on a tablet have found that the OS provides a relatively unreliable experience compared with iOS or Google's Android operating system. Windows 8 can't follow its predecessor's lead.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...