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How Will Windows 8 Improve on Windows 7

written by: George Garza•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/18/2011

If Microsoft got it right with Windows 7, what will they do for Windows 8? Already there is talk about what Microsoft needs to do to take advantage of the current and future generation of hardware, motherboards, chips, and components.

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    What we do know about Windows 8 and Some Guesses

    The information is sketchy but here are some of the things that have been locked down about Windows 8.

    1. The next Microsoft Client OS will be called Windows 8.

    2. 2012 is the expected launch date for Windows 8.

    3. In addItion to new networking features, there will be new touch and voice interface features.

    4. The Copenhagen User Experience may be the basis of the next user interface.

    5. It will be a 128 bit OS.

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    What Good is a 128 bit OS?

    That's not a trivial question. In fact the big problem with 128 bit OS, even if running on a 128 bit CPU chip, is the lack of 128 bit applications. The vast majority of applications written and in place in public today are still 32 bit. Even 64 bit apps don't have a substantial share of the app market.

    Why not? One ot the telling points about having a 128 bit ... anything ... is that it is supposed to be faster, by design. If the CPU is 128 bit and the OS is 128 bit, then processing will be 4 times faster than 32 bit operations; or at least process 4 32 bit instructions at one time as opposed to 1 32 bit instruction at a time. But that also depends if you have 128 bit applications. In that case. a 32 bit application will have to be processed 4 times by the CPU, not once. There is no significant advantage to having 128 bit in such a case.

    Developers are still trying to work out the details of moving their apps to a larger bit playing field. Also, many companies are reluctant to move to a new platform when the existing one works well. The speed gained from 64 bit is not so substantial to warrent a change over. from 32 bit for many people. Remember, adding more RAM can boost operational speed, and with RAM chips being so inexpensive today it is more economical to upgrade RAM than rewrite a profitable application. The profit/cost ratio does not sit well with a re-write.

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    Windows 8 can improve the Interaction of the Application and CPU

    Knowing that a 128 bit OS is coming, a significant change that could come about is using the OS to work with applications so that the low level interaction between OS and CPU is in sync. Applications will not have to be rewritten to take advantage of the 128 CPU. The OS will make that happen. In fact it does that now, to a limited extent.

    A 32 bit application running on a 64 OS works well enough because the OS is tied to the CPU registers at 32 bits. In those applications where they are 64 bit, the OS can make full use of the timing sequence with the CPU to present a 64 bit instruction or data. The cycle is one to one.

    In order for a 32 bit app to work in a 128 bit CPU environment Windows 8 can "reformat" or "re-sync" the 32 bit application into a 128 bit. This would make every app work as a 128 bit app, and the CPU would see it as such. This enforcement gain would solve the problem of the rewrite.

    Does something like this occur now? Earlier 16 bit applications were written to function on 36 bit registers, that is 8, 8, 8, 8, 4. The 4 left over bits were used to make the transition to the next instruction set, so as not to use up an entire 8 bits, and thereby loose the functionality of 32 bits. One processing cycle would have been wasted.

    By using the extra 4 bits, this enables the application to take the next part of the application and work it into the register. Here though, transition would be 32 32 32 32 16. This would take the next part of the application and use 144 bits. If it needs to continue, it can by beginning the 32 bit sequence again. If it doesn't need to continue, the cycle would be complete.

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    Improvements in Search Engine Technology and Using a Cloud

    Windows 7 made changes to video with its touch screen technology, audio with its speech recognition technology and the user interface. Windows 7 also made improvements in networking. In the area of Internet Search, Microsoft has blended Bing with Wolfram Alpha to produce Intelligent computation, or answers oriented solutions, not just links. Depending how successful this is, Microsoft can be poised to make bigger changes to the Internet Explorer.

    The next change that Microsoft can provide with Windows 8 is "cloud" computing. Currently most cloud computing is limited to online storage, i.e., storage on the Internet. While accessing individual servers from the Internet to perform processing operations may be down the line; but you need an operating system that can take advantage of the servers, their results, and display them locally. Windows 8 could be a threshold OS to provide multicomputer processing on one computer.

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    Expected New Features in Windows8

    Microsoft recently posted a job opening for a lead software development engineer. Among the responsibilities of the position will be to help develop cluster support for servers. The kernel is also expected to be revamped. The position will also help develop the following features for Windows 8:

    A modified Branch office strategy will be looked at where access will also be worked on in order to improve performance. Branch office computing involves having one sever at the branch office send and receive updates for documents, and redistribute the information to the computers in the branch. Modifications to the BranchCache engine are expected with the resulting distributed file system replication across multiple servers expected to provide new or improved features.