The list of differences is long and starts with many differences that are not visible at first.
First of all, Windows 8 was designed to be slimmer and lighter than Windows 7. Its aim is to work on a multitude of devices, including desktops, laptops, hybrids such as the Microsoft Surface (half-laptop and half-tablet), or tablets. That's why the core of Windows 8 is lighter than that of Windows 7. This means faster start and shutdown times—incredibly fast when using SSDs. A start in five seconds is very feasible with Windows 8 on a fast computer. A shutdown in three seconds is also possible.
WIndows 8 also runs better on newer hardware components. For example, it is able to deliver better performance on newer processors than Windows 7 can.
It supports touch displays, implemented at a level never seen before on Windows operating systems. Windows 8 can run on touch-compatible devices as small as 10.6 inches wide or on huge 82-inch touch displays, and it provides better support for using multiple displays.
There are also many visible changes when compared to Windows 7. This book covers only the ones the authors consider most important.
A NEW LOCK SCREEN AND NEW LOGON PROCEDURE Windows 8 can be set to
Display useful data on the Lock screen, and you can log on using new methods (PIN or picture password), not just with your user account password.
THE START MENU HAS BEEN REPLACED BY THE START SCREEN Unlike the Start menu, the Start screen uses all the available screen space to display shortcuts to installed apps. It can also be set to display live data from your most used apps. Search works faster than from the Start menu, and it can be used very easily with touch-compatible displays.
WINDOWS STORE This a new feature that provides a one-stop shop for finding, purchasing, and installing apps and games.
NEW WINDOWS 8 APPS These are delivered only with Windows 8. They provide easy access to your mail, calendar, social networks, photos, music, videos, and so on.
INTERNET expLORER 10 This version of Internet Explorer has received many enhancements. It is the fastest, safest, and most standards-compliant version of Internet Explorer ever made.
Log ON With YOuR Microsoft ACCOuNT You can use Windows 8 with your Microsoft account and synchronize your data and settings automatically across Windows 8 computers and devices.
A NEW FILE EXPLORER This much improved version of Windows Explorer (as named in Windows 7) includes a ribbon-based interface for easy access to all the important functions, and file copying has been improved from Windows 7.
ENHANCED WINDOWS DEFENDER This version now provides complete antivirus and antispyware protection.
A NEW task Manager Task Manager has been dramatically improved. It is not only easier to use but provides more useful functions for managing your system, apps, and available resources.
SWITCH LANGUAGES ON THE fly Unlike Windows 7, with Windows 8 you don't need to purchase a special version to install a new display language. You can switch between them on the fly in all versions of Windows 8.
WINDOWS Media CENTER It's been removed in Windows 8 and is available as an additional purchase.
FILE HISTORY This is a new feature that provides an easy way to make automated backups of your data.
ENHANCED PARENTAL CONTROLS The parental controls in Windows 8 offer many improvements from their Windows 7 counterparts.
This list is by no means complete. To discover all the new features in Windows 8, read this book and experiment with all the new things Windows 8 has to offer.
Which Edition of Windows 8 Should I Buy?
The answer depends on how you plan to use Windows 8. If you are a casual user who needs to browse the web, use productivity applications, play games, watch movies, and view pictures, then the basic Windows 8 edition will work just fine.
If you are a more knowledgeable user who wants to use more advanced features such as BitLocker encryption or make Remote Desktop connections to your computer, Windows 8 Pro is a good choice. For small businesses that don't need an expensive enterprise version, the Windows 8 Pro edition is a very good choice.
The next question worth clarifying is: 32-bit or 64-bit? If you plan to use Windows 8 on an older computer with less than 4 GB of RAM, the 32-bit edition works just fine.
However, on newer computers, you should always use the 64-bit edition. You get a bit more performance and security, but most importantly, you get support for large amounts of RAM. The 32-bit version cannot manage more than 34 GB of RAM memory. If you plan to use more than that (such as for playing games), you should use the 64-bit edition.