Windows 8: 8 tips and tricks, 8 cool new features

Microsoft's forthcoming PC and tablet OS has lots of good stuff for those willing to look

We're just a few months away from Windows 8's final release. A new operating system can be overwhelming, and not all the changes and additions will appeal to you, but a lot of good stuff in Windows 8 is getting lost in the complaints about what Windows 8 doesn't do so well.

I've found eight cool new features in Windows 8 worth celebrating, and I've found eight tips and tricks to make using Windows 8 even nicer. Plus, there are some keyboard shortcuts and hot-corner capabilities you should know about to make using Windows 8 easier.

[ Windows 8 is coming, and InfoWorld can help you get ready with the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report, which explains Microsoft's bold new direction for Windows, the new Metro interface for tablet and desktop apps, the transition from Windows 7, and more. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

8 cool new features in Windows 8
First, here are the eight new capabilities I believe you'll quickly warm up to:

1. The charms bar: I'm finding the charms bar (which appears on the right side of the screen if you click or swipe there) to be much more helpful than I'd originally thought. For example, click or tap Settings, then Power to put the computer to sleep. The charms bar has icons for setting preferences, searching, sharing, and switching between the Metro environment and the Windows 7 desktop.

2. Microsoft Store: I love that I can get Metro apps from the store for my PC now just like I do for my Windows Phone.

3. Windows Reader: With this built-in app, I can open a PDF and highlight paragraphs or use the stylus on a tablet to make notes in the file. Speaking of PDFs, you can also bring PDFs into the forthcoming Word 2013 and work with their text in Word.

4. Live syncing: I like that you can log into your Windows Live account when logging onto your PC and have your personalization settings follow you from one device to another (assuming they use the same Live account).

5. Storage spaces: This feature helps to protect you from a drive failure by letting you can pool multiple drives, à la RAID redundancy.

6. File history: This new, simplified way of saving copies of your files lets you get previous versions back if the current file is lost or damaged, similar to OS X's Time Machine utility.

7. The new task manager: The revamped task manager provides a more detailed, more readable view of running processes. Admins and power users will love it.

8. Windows to Go: With the Enterprise Edition of Windows 8, you can put your Windows environment on a USB thumb drive and take it with you for use on any PC compatible with Windows 7 or 8. IT can manage these Windows to Go images via Windows Server.

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