Windows 8 represents a major departure from previous versions of Windows because it is based on the Metro design language, which facilitates a touchscreen UI (user interface) similar to the ones found in mobile phones and tablet computers. Microsoft's Surface tablet, released in early 2013, runs Windows 8.
The basic version of Windows 8, suitable for most users, works with touch screen devices as well as with traditional keyboard-and-mouse systems. A version called Windows RT supports the ARM processor architecture. Another version, Windows 8 Pro, is aimed at business and technical professionals who desire encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity.
The Windows 8 screen is tile-based, with each tile representing a specific app. The taskbar has no Start button, although users can bring up a Start screen by touching or clicking the lower-left corner of the display. The Windows 8 Release Preview contains a Metro version of Internet Explorer 10, along with apps for news, sports, and travel. It also offers an updated Windows Explorer, an updated Task Manager, and picture password capability.
Major features of the basic Windows 8 OS, in addition to the ones noted above, include:
- Upgrades from Windows 7
- Windows Store
- Connected standby
- Microsoft account
- Language switching "on the fly"
- Windows Update
- Windows Defender (anti-malware program)
- Support for multiple displays
- Mobile broadband capability
- Reset and refresh