3. Faster boot, faster sleep
Another potential perk in Windows 8 is that it's meant to enable your computer to launch into life almost as soon as you push the power button. Microsoft vice president Mike Angiulo said in a demonstration in June that startup times of 6 or 7 seconds should be possible.
Additionally, when you wake your sleeping computer, it should return from sleep instantly -- which would be a relief after the horrors of Windows Vista and the improved but still lagging wake-up rate of Windows 7. When you're on a client visit, for example, your computer can be a more natural part of the process. You should have fewer delays when you want to show off a new design, share a proposal, or demonstrate a Web app once you open your notebook.
4. Smooth data and app sharing -- in the cloud and out
While Windows 8 developments are unfolding, Microsoft has been taking big steps in the online realm by launching Office 365, a new cloud computing service for small and large businesses. It's also promoting Office Web Apps, SkyDrive, and Azure as ways to collaborate in the cloud and reduce your IT overhead and hardware investments.
Working in the cloud means you and your team can work together virtually using the online version of tools that keep teams running smoothly in the face-to-face world: real-time communication, team meetings, task assignments, project management, file libraries, and workflow and reporting options.
We don't yet know any specifics about Windows 8 features that engage the cloud directly, but the OS will support app-to-app sharing (think of how your Twitter posts show up in your other social media accounts), so the convergence is likely on the way.
Windows 8 will also natively support USB 3.0, which should allow you to access and transfer files up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0. And that hopefully means a little less time standing in front of the room waiting for your presentation to load.
5. A Windows Explorer makeover
Over the last week or so, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, has written on the Building Windows 8 blog about some of the changes we can expect to see in Windows Explorer. In Windows 8, you should be able to copy, move, rename, and delete files -- especially large groups of large files -- faster and with better control. You should see the status of multiple file operations and even pause the ones that are slowing things down.
Another hoped step toward improved efficiency comes when Windows 8 finds a naming conflict while you're moving or copying files. If you try to drag a group of files to a folder that already contains files with those same names, Windows 8 will prompt you -- and show a smart Choose Files dialog -- to click the files you want to keep.
The big improvement appears to be that you will see a number of the conflicts in a single dialog box, along with the information needed to make the choice. And if you're still confused about which logo file you want to use, you can click the thumbnail to open the file and find out for sure.
What's not clear is what will happen when you have, say, 20 file conflicts in the same operation -- will the dialog box have tabs? Will you still have to click through multiple choices (similar to Windows 7)? That remains to be seen.