Who really knows Windows 8?

Who really knows Windows 8?

Windows 8 is FAR more than simply a new UI

Windows 8 “under the covers!” 

Picking out the differences between Windows XP and Windows 8, improvements have been enormous and have remained unnoticed by a lot of people. So here’s a glimpse of new features that are all in Windows 8. In sum, the following three unsorted (net even complete) lists of new Features give an impressive insight into the innovation thrusts of the different versions starting with Windows Vista to Windows 8. Naturally, the list would be much longer - especially if we considered Windows Server as well, which we won’t in this article. Windows Server 2012 on its own provides so many new features that an own list would even be more extensive than the ones provided herein.

It is definitely worth to have a look on the documentation since Windows is simply unbeatable regarding security, manageability,automation and customization.

New features within Windows Vista 

User   Account Control

User   Interface Privilege Isolation

Live Icons

Restart  Manager

Session 0  Isolation

Quick Search


Credential Providers

Cancelable I/O


Secure Startup


  Access Protection

Windows Feedback Services

Presentation  Settings

Sync Center

MMC 3.0

Windows Imaging Format (WIM)

Protected Mode IE

Parental Control

High Resolution/High DPI

Mandatory Integrity Control

IPv6 Dual Stack

Desktop Hardware Acceleration

Resource Exhaustion Diagnostics

Shell Property System

Peer Name Resolution Protocol


Crypto  Next Generation

Search  Folders

Single Binary


Workflow  Foundation

Power Management

Windows Display Driver Model


Windows Service Hardening

Transactional Registry

Windows Defender


Windows Desktop Manager

Windows Filtering Platform



Writeable SIDs

Winlogon Rearchitcture

Registry/File Virtualization

Bitlocker and MBAM

Monad Scripting Shell

XAML and Segoe UI Font

Enhanced Group Policy Scenarios

Ink Analysis

Info Card

Enhanced Reliability Monitor

Windows  Sideshow

Startup  Repair Toolkit

Internet  Explorer 7-9

Windows Resource Protection

RSS  Platform

IE Hardware Accelaration (IE 9)

Ad-hoc Meeting Networks

New Event  Viewer

Java-Script native code Jit- Compilation (IE9)


Eventing  and Intrumentation

Process Elevation

Windows Installer 4.0/4.5

XML Paper  Specification

Protected Processes

Function Discovery API

.Net Framework 3.0

Hidden Per-User-COM (Elevated Processes)

New Open/Save Dialog

Process Dump in Taskmanager

Improved Compiler Defenses (GS, ASLR, DEP, SAFESEH, robust, etc.)

User Mode Driver Framework

Open Package Specification

UI Access Application

Windows  Disk Diagnostic

Wizard  Framework

TrustInfo - Application Manifest

New  Direct Access

New  Security Model

> 320 Shims

Directory Junctions

NTFS English language

Separation of OS and MUI

Automatic Compat. Mitigations (>5.500 Applications)

New Firewall (Profiles, etc.)

New Security Center

IIS 7.0

Data Protection API

ACT 5.0


New features within Windows 7 

User Account Control Slider

New Explorers

Enhanced MBAM

New Taskbar

Scenic Ribbon Control

BuiltIn Touch Platform

Taskbar Thumbnails

Process Cloning for Debugging

BranchCache ™

Pinned Icons

Display Driver Model (WDM 1.1)

DirectAccess ™

Thumbnail Buttons

Customized Troubleshooting

AppLocker ™

Thumbnail Preview

Sensors and Locations

Sensors and Locations

Thumbnail Jumplists

Desktop Gadgets

New, Richer Support Tools

Thumbnail Overlay Icons

Memory Diagnostics

Shell  Rearchitecture – Search, Explorer, CMD-Shell

Preview Pane

Network Location  Awareness

Windows Installer 5

Reading Pane

Network Connection Timeout Event

Customized  Troubleshooting

Folder/Document Library

VPN Reconnect

Internet Explorer 8-9

Metadata Pane

Bitlocker to go

IE Hardware Accelaration (IE 9)

People Near Me

Powershell BuiltIn

Java-Script native code Jit- Compilation (IE9)

Search Providers

.Net Framework 3.5

Improved Compiler Defenses (GS, ASLR, DEP, SAFESEH, robust, etc.)

Aero Snap / Shaking

IE 9 Smart Screen and Tracking Protection

Event Viewer Tracing capabilities

Compatibility - Application Manifest (OS Switch Points)

Direct Access

RPC changes, Asynchronous I/O changes

Start Menu Search

New  Search Engine

New Logo Certification

DaRT 7.0


New Task Scheduler

Concurrency Runtime

Background Services


CPU Multi Processing and Core Parking

Task Parallel Library (TPL)

New Windows Update - Less Reboots

>360 Shims

Automatic Compat. Mitigations (> 6.500 Applications)

Visibility of Firewall Port configuration in Resource Monitor

Compatibility Assistant

Boot Performance Improvements

Kernel Changes for Flexibility and Extensibility

New Firewall

New BITS service

Server RemoteFx Support

VHD Boot

XP Mode

Windows Backup



WERR - Third Party App Update

IIS 7.5

ACT 5.6

New MDT and WAIK

Credential Manager

SecurityCompliance Manager

High Contrast Mode


New features within Windows 8 

User Account Control changes

Hyper-V on Client (almost the same as Server 2012 Hyper-V)

CHKDSK improvements with zero downtime (NTFS health)

Internet Explorer 10 with Enhanced Protected Mode

Virtual Network Switch

Powershell v3 In-Box, Powershell Intellisense, Powershell API Help-  and Command Generator, New Powershell ISE

Virtual Fibre Channel

SMB 3.0 Attached Storage

Explorer VHD/ISO mount

Guest NUMA Direct

Direct Attached FC HBA

Dynamic Memory

64 TB Dynamic Virtual Disk

64 Logical CPU

VM 10-finger Touch

Extensible Virtual Switch

New Performance Tools

Fast and Fluid UI

Low Power Busses


VM NIC Teaming

OS BuilIn Smart Screen Filter (Has blocked >1.5B malware and  >150M phishing attacks)

New Explorer with Ribbon

IIS 8.0

Do Not Track (DNT) capability

SmartScreen Filter protects third-party browsers

IE10 ASLR Support for none-ASLR aware AddIns

Secure Boot

New Task Manager

Powershell Web Interface

Trusted Boot

Windows to go


Measured Boot

Offline Domain Join

WMI 2.0

Remote Attestation Service

New Activation Model

New App Certification

Remote Applications

Connected Standby

Virtual Smartcards

Windows RT (Windows on ARM)

BuiltIn USB 3.0 Support

Direct Access improvements

TPM 2.0

BuiltIn Bluetooth 4.0 Support

Branch Cache Improvements

UEFI 2.3.1

New Driver Model (WDM 1.2)

DaRT 8.0

Storage Spaces – Thin/Thick Provisioning

Hunderte neuer Powershell CMDLets (z.B. 162 für Hyper-V)


New Windows Defender (Forefront Scan Engine)

New Firewall with Packet Filtering

Internet Explorer 10 64-Bit with 32-Bit Support

Fast Boot

PS ISE integrated CMD List

.Net Framework 4.5 SP1

Hybrid Shutdown

Improved, comprehensive Compiler Defenses
  (GS, ASLR, DEP, SAFESEH, SEHOP, Heap Spray, robust, etc.)

Async APIs (85% of WinRT APIs and included
  in .Net 4.5)

High Contrast Mode changes

Office 2013 RT (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote included in Windows
  RT edition)

Windows RT APIs and new Kernel Services

(e.g. Background Tasks, Suspended Apps)

Maintenance Tasks

Suspended Desktop Application (Windows RT)

Suspended Apps

Shared Kernel – Phone, Tablet, Notebook, PC

Offloaded File/Folder Operation (ODX Protocol)

New Application Model – Platform neutral (Intel/AMD/ARM)

Windows to go parse-through VM

Windows Store App Resource Protection

OPP Brokered API Isolation

Live Tiles

App Contracts – Secure App Data exchange (Search, Share, FilePicker,  PlayTo)

Office 2013 Student (Windows RT)

RICH Touch Support 10-finger Touch Support

Secure Device Access – App Capabilities

Process Isolation – Low Integrity App container

VM 3D graphic support

Sidebar Removal

HTML 5 Support

Search throughout apps

New Windows 8 OS Switch Point via App Manifest

StartScreen Mouse- and Keyboard Support

File History

Windows Refresh / Reset

Windows 7 Backup included but deprecated

Optical Disk Power Management

Windows Store App Forward Compatibility

Flat Desktop Design and Improvements

Windows Store (Link to certified Desktop Apps possible)

Windows Store Apps using JavaScript and HTML

Device Encryption and Bitlocker

Windows Store Installer

Sideloading Installation

Windows Intune Support


ACT 6.0

New Compatibility Assistant

New Windows Update – Less Reboots

Startup Application Diagnostics

Enhanced Cloud Integration – Linked Microsoft Account

Surface RT Ports for HDMI, USB, Bluetooth 4.0, SDCard

Convertible Devices Support

Support for almost infinite number of Hardware Formfactors

> 385 Shims

Automatic Compat. Mitigations (>7.500 Applications)

PowerShell Web Service Interface

Remote Attestation Service

Settings Roaming

Huge number of different Device-Formfactors

Web Setup (ESD)

No Installation without NX (DEP)

Silent (automatic) Activation

UEFI CSM Boot (Class 2)

Connected Account

Automatic Startup Repair UI

Assessment Execution Engine

Compression API

Data Deduplication API

App Packaging and Deployment


Direct Manipulation


Help API

iSCSI Software Target API

Operation Recorder

Steps Recorder Changes

SMB Management API

User Access Logging

User State Management API

Web Socket Protocol Component API

Windows Connection Manager

Windows Storage Management API



Event Tracing

IP Helper changes

MIB changes

Native Wifi changes

Network Management changes

UEFI CSM Boot (Class 2)

Connected Account

Automatic Startup Repair UI

Direct2D changes

DirectWrite changes

Printing changes

UI Automation changes

Windows Sockets changes

Software Input Panel

Assessment Execution Engine

Compression API

Data Deduplication API

Surface Pro with ultra thin digitizer



Start Button replaced by link to new Start-Screen

Technical Start Menu

Windows Style UI – New Start Screen


By the way, Windows 8 has a new start-button which references to the new Start Screen. If you counted the number of required clicks or keystrokes to start a program in Windows 7, you will see you won’t need more rather less clicks when using Windows 8. 

Incidentally, the most important technical features are still accessible in the "Technical Start Menu" with a right mouse click (bottom left corner). 

Just looking at the touch ability of Windows 8 in the new Start Screen and in the new Windows Store applications is impressive and for this I'm likely adapting on a new operation system, which is in my opinion to learn easily within a few minutes. 

In addition, the new type of handling opened an unprecedented comfort. Here a quote of a colleague, who appreciates the new Start Screen as much as I do: 

„My personal Highlight is the ability to interact in totally new ways compared to other Operation systems.

I simply enter a term and Windows 8 lets me know all possible alternatives for it. So it shows you the results Windows 8 finds for the term in “Apps”, “Files” and “Settings”. What is even more interesting is that Windows 8 tries to process across apps. “Tie” for example is being looked for in Bing and eventually you might see what different types of ties and knots exist. Using an app might lead me to a shop where I find offers. Otherwise I can just search through an auction app for auctions. The “Share” function is just amazing: I may easily share the found ties with my wife and find out, whether she likes the tie as well.” 

Looking at how many powerful features inside Windows 8 are we can definitely call it an impressive operating system which hadn’t been seen by the world before. It’s the most feature rich client operating system so far (Windows Server 2012 has much more than the client). 

First of all, Windows itself benefits from these features and therefore reaches a new dimension concerning security, manageability, usability, performance and much more. Furthermore it is extremely energy saving so even with older hardware battery life has been raised a lot. 

Also administrators profit by substantial increases Windows 8 had in terms of manageability, automation and security, which results in potential reduction of operating costs. 

Additionally, software developer benefit from those features since many of them may directly be addressed or integrated in their own projects and thereby increasing the quality, safety and performance. Also, development costs can substantially be reduced. 

Finally, all users profit from the new Features – no matter if they use Windows 8 at home or at work. If the operating System and related apps are secure, reliable and fast, users are the ones to really make use of it. Not to mention that many features are of course available to the user – if he is aware of them.

There is one question remaining: “Who really knows Windows 8?“ 

It would be a pity if the entire discussion about Windows 8 would be reduced on a new type of user interface or usability.

Therefore, I to highlight my favorite Top-10 Features in Windows 8 as a separate blog series. 

Oliver Niehus, Microsoft.

Who really knows Windows 8.pdf

Comments (2)

  1. kinokijuf says:

    I like how “Sidebar Removal” is a “feature”. ☺

  2. tonicer says:

    I like how less customizeability is a feature. How can i get rid of the volume toaster indicator popup? http://i.imgur.com/xQqqMyc.jpg That ugly thing.

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