Part of a series of co-posts by "Windows 8 Secrets" co-authors Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott.
When we set out to divulge some of the secret new features in Windows 8, we knew that we had information no one else was going to get. We also knew that doing so was risky, and that Microsoft might ask us to stop or, worse, shut us out of future, legitimate briefings and reviewer workshops. Indeed, the original plan was to silently collect this information in advance of our next book, but with builds leaking publicly and various enthusiast blogs trumpeting their finds, we felt we had to act.
And while we do have more to share, we feel the point has been made: Sure, anyone can download a leaked build and take a few screenshots. But when it comes to really delving into the next version of Windows, we feel that we offer a unique and more compelling perspective on Microsoft's plans than any of the other blogs. But we do have a book to write. And we're not interested in goading Microsoft into action.
So, after a week of unexpected silence from the company, we simply stopped. We'll publish more when we can, of course, but in the meantime we wanted to at least try to wrap up this first series of posts with a look at what's going on out in the web, on the blogs, and with the others who are as enthusiastic about this next Windows version as we are.
On that note, here are some of the other details that have come to light thanks to various leaked Windows 8 builds so far.
Long Zheng notes that Windows 8 will include the IE 9 SmartScreen feature, but enabled with in Windows shell.
Folder Options dialog with SmartScreen options.
Our take: In IE, SmartScreen is used to prevent malware from making its way to your PC. And it works great, if you're using IE. But malware can get on your PC in other ways, either through competing browsers, via USB memory keys, or whatever. So adding this capability to the underlying OS seems to make plenty of sense, and should nicely complement the other built-in security technologies in Windows.
Cnbeta posted screenshots alleging to show off the coming Windows Marketplace in Windows 8.
The Windows App Store: Real or fake?
Our take: The Cnbeta screenshots appear to be early prototypes or could even be fake. (For example, the name Windows App Store is suspicious.) What is known, of course, is that Microsoft is adding an app store to Windows 8, and it's not surprising that such an effort could looks a lot like Apple's App Store for Mac, as these shots do. It's a good model to follow.
Cnbeta also reports that Windows 8 will include a feature called History Vault, which appears to be a graphical front-end for pre-existing (but most likely enhanced for Windows 8) backup technologies like Previous Versions.
History Vault will provide a simpler way to get at previous versions of files as well as backups and system images.
Our take: Some have compared History Vault to Apple's Time Machine, but Time Machine actually followed in the footsteps of Microsoft's earlier work around backup and data recovery. From what we can tell, History Vault is really just a friendlier way to access functionality Windows users have enjoyed for years.
WinReview (article pulled) confirms earlier news that Windows 8 will include new install functionality that can optionally blow away the OS but retain the user accounts, personal files, and programs.
Windows 8's install routine will let you replace Windows while keeping data, settings, and applications intact.
Our take: Windows 8 will boot, sleep, resume, and shut down much more quickly than previous Windows versions, and it appears that it will also install and, new to this version--recover itself much more quickly as well. This is great news, especially for those who dread having to wipe out an existing install in order to regain lost performance or correct a problem. Anything that makes Windows more resilient is good news.
OEM BIOS Activation (OA) v3
A Russian leaker with the moniker Zukona claims that Windows 8 will include OEM BIOS Activation (OA) version 3.0. Previous versions of OA ship with Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
Our take: Microsoft continues to improve its OEM anti-piracy controls, which likely started up when a Dell volume license key for Windows XP infamously leaked almost a decade ago. This feature isn't one that most users will ever notice, but it appears to be a simple evolution of the technologies available today in Windows 7.
Windows 8 does include the ability to mount ISO images directly, so you can access their contents without having to first extract them or burn them to disc. Rafael confirmed that this feature is available in the currently leaked builds.
With more software being delivered electronically, it makes sense to provide ISO mounting capabilities in Windows.
Our take: Finally. We hope to see similar integration for CUE/BIN and other container types, but ISO is obviously the big one, and in Windows 7 today this type of functionality requires third party tools, most of which are clunky and degrade system performance.
-- Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott