Microsoft Windows 8

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Windows 8
Logo: Lettering "Windows 8" (in bold, light blue, sans serif), to the left of it, also in light blue, the new Windows logo: A geometric shape was developed from the previous Windows logo, which shows the impressions of a window, the origin of the Named Windows, and tiles of the new Modern UI surface combined.
Windows 8 start screen
Modern UI start screen from Windows 8
developer Microsoft
License (s) Microsoft EULA ( Closed Source )
First publ. October 26, 2012
Current  version Windows 8: 6.2 Build 9200
Windows 8.1: 6.3 Build 9600 (October 26, 2012 / October 18, 2013)
ancestry Windows NT
Architecture (s) IA-32 (32-bit x86 , x64 ), ARM (RT version)
Others Development discontinued
Support discontinued on January 12, 2016

Windows 8.1 probably end of support: January 10, 2023

Microsoft Windows 8 is a desktop - operating system of the US company Microsoft .

The operating system contains two user interfaces : On the one hand, Windows 8 Modern UI , a user interface in "tile form" specially optimized for touchscreens , and on the other hand, a desktop environment with a taskbar . It is operated using a mouse , keyboard or touchscreen. Together with the other operating systems Windows Phone 8 for smartphones and Windows RT for tablet computers , it offers a uniform user interface for all devices operated in this way.

The system from the Windows series was released on October 26, 2012 as the successor to Windows 7 and is the predecessor of Windows 10 . The update to version 8.1 was free and required to receive updates . Support for Windows 8 was discontinued on January 12, 2016 and basic support for Windows 8.1 ended on January 9, 2018, with Update 1 Microsoft gives extended support until January 10, 2023.

Development of Windows 8


When developing Windows 8, Microsoft pursued a.o. a. the following goals:

  • Standardization of the surface for PC and mobile devices (tablets and smartphones)
  • Increase in speed , for example when copying files, system startup and shutdown

Time schedule

Microsoft hosted the “Build Windows” conference from September 13 to September 16, 2011, at which Windows 8 was presented. At the same time, a developer version was released that gave a first impression of the new Windows version. On February 29, 2012, a beta version for desktop PCs was released under the name Windows 8 Consumer Preview . This version was followed by another preliminary version on May 31, the "Release Preview" (formerly Release Candidate), which already contained all the functions of the final version. In July 2012, Microsoft confirmed on its blog that Windows 8 would be released on October 26, 2012. Windows 8 had been in production since the beginning of August 2012 and was gradually being delivered to Microsoft partners. Since August 15, 2012, Windows 8 has also been available to subscribers from MSDN , Microsoft TechNet , and DreamSpark Premium customers since September 22, 2012 . Windows 8 has been available in stores since October 26, 2012.

In October 2014, Microsoft stopped selling Windows 8 from retailers, but OEM versions were still available. Windows 8.1 was not affected by this setting.


Three types of application

In Windows 8, instead of the previous two, there are now three different types of applications: First, the traditional Windows applications that run on the desktop in a window, second, the console applications, and third, the newly introduced Windows apps , which are within the new Modern User Interface (UI). The Windows apps differ both in their runtime environment and - at least partially - in the API used .

Interface and operation

Windows 8 taskbar

At the Build Conference in September 2011, Microsoft emphasized that Windows 8 should combine the possibilities of using a computer with a touchscreen and mouse . It is still possible to use a real or a virtual keyboard on the screen. The operating system contains two user interface systems: on the one hand Windows 8 Modern UI (formerly called "Metro"), a user interface in "tile form" specially optimized for touchscreens, and on the other hand the classic desktop surface with the taskbar . This largely corresponds to the desktop familiar from Windows 7 and can be started from the new interface.

The boot manager , which is used to select the operating system at startup, has also been optimized for touch input, but can now also be operated with the mouse for the first time. It also contains a graphical user interface that can be used to call up advanced settings.

UEFI and Secure Boot

The certification guidelines developed by Microsoft for computers that are preinstalled with Windows 8 stipulate that this computer rather than a conventional BIOS The UEFI use. These systems must be configured to use Secure Boot by default . This is to prevent malware from starting during the boot process. The certification guidelines also provide that the mainboard manufacturer can make this option optional on x86 systems, i.e. can be switched off. There is concern in the open source community that booting free operating systems on systems with ARM architecture could be difficult or impossible.

Rights management

While desktop and console applications still have full or limited user account control (UAC) authorization, there is a rights system for modern UI apps that comes close to that of mobile devices.

Modern UI apps must also be digitally signed. Microsoft issues free signatures for software development. Apps can be obtained through the Windows Store or in Windows 8 Enterprise also through side loading. Windows RT, the version for ARM processors, can only run modern UI apps, but not traditional desktop applications. The exception to this are pre-installed desktop applications such as Internet Explorer in the desktop version.

user interface

Due to the transition in the layout of the user interface from the previously used icons for use with the mouse and the mouse pointer to the new tiles for use with the finger on the touch panel, the specific area required for the individual activation of an application has been increased. In order to still achieve the same variety of applications, a new hierarchy for the selection of applications using stored ribbon-like structures ( ribbons ) was introduced.

This means that the previous compact start menu and the previous, even more compact quick start bar can no longer be used as in earlier Windows versions. However, a surface ( shell ) similar to the previous layout can be used.

In addition, the option of transparent overlay ( Aero Overlay ) from Windows 7 is no longer offered.


The Windows 8 Charmbar

Metro was Microsoft's code name for the new interface , which is preferred in Windows 8 . Due to a threat of legal action by Metro AG for trademark infringement , Microsoft decided to rename the user interface in the final version of Windows 8. The new name is Modern UI ; Programs specially developed for this are no longer called Metro Apps , but Windows Store Apps .

In Modern UI all menus can be "striped" in the picture. The basic idea here is to reduce the number of user interface controls that are visible at the same time and to bring the content of an application to the fore. Ideas for the arrangement of text and control elements from typography , Bauhaus design, Swiss design and motion design are also used.

When operating with the mouse, the above-mentioned "stripe" can be reached in the case of the system bars on the left and right using the so-called "hot corners". You move the mouse into the respective corners and the bars are displayed. Right-click within an application to display application-specific menus.

The charm bar can be opened using the Win + key combination C. It contains shortcuts called charms for various functions. If no app is open, the charm bar contains a search function and a "share" function with which information, e.g. B. can be spread by email or a screenshot. It also includes a “Start” area that grants access to the tiles, the option to use printers and projectors, and “Settings”, which make certain system control settings accessible. If, on the other hand, an app is open, the charm bar contains application-specific options for using the respective app.

Windows 8 uses so-called tiles instead of program icons and thus takes over some innovations from Windows Phone 7. After the criticism that the modern UI design is not user-friendly enough, various detailed improvements were made. So was z. B. adjusted the tile size.

Many companies adapted their programs to Modern UI even before the release of Windows 8 (e.g. Mozilla its Firefox browser and Google Chrome ).

Modern applications (also called “Modern Apps ” for short ) have the option of forwarding content directly to or receiving other applications. Among other things, it is possible to mark a text passage in the browser and then share it with friends or acquaintances via any social media application. It is also possible to use content such as images from applications that access cloud services such as Flickr without the application requesting this content having to have access to the login data for the online image gallery.

Home page

The start page is a customizable listing of the apps and app content that are important to the user in the form of tiles. Tiles can be grouped for organization.

The start page can be called up via the Start button . In contrast to previous Windows versions - which have a constantly visible start button, unless switched off in the taskbar settings - the start button under Windows 8 only appears when the mouse reaches the lower left corner. The start page can also be called up using the charms, recently used apps or the Windows key on the keyboard.


The desktop occupies a special position, which, not least for reasons of downward compatibility, is still available and, similar to an app, must first be started. Under Windows 8, the desktop no longer offers the start menu introduced with Windows 95 , as its functionality is taken over from the start page. With Windows 8.1 the possibility to boot directly to the desktop was reintroduced.

When using multiple monitors, it is now possible to set up a separate taskbar for each desktop.

Although the traditional desktop software on Windows RT (other than Internet Explorer and a few other programs) doesn't work, the desktop is still there. The Microsoft Office pre-installed in Windows RT runs on it .

Windows Explorer has been adapted to the style of the ribbon interface.

File Explorer

The saved documents and folders are navigated, created and viewed by the user in Windows Explorer . All copying and deleting processes in progress can be paused, continued and canceled in a central area. Various switchable view options such as thumbnails, lists, details, preview windows, etc. are available to the user in order to find their way quickly and clearly in the multitude of files and folders. In addition, the file explorer has a new ribbon menu bar, as it has been known in Microsoft Office products since 2007, which is intended to make it clearer, since the most frequently used commands are directly available there. This additional bar can be shown and hidden by the user. This is similar to the operation of Microsoft Office from version Office 2007. New from the File Explorer is that ISO files directly without additional external software mount can. A drive letter is assigned to the file system it contains. There is still a function for defragmenting drives, but this is now referred to as optimize .

Login screen

The login screen in Windows 8 was largely carried over from Windows Phone 7. Applications can use it to display the number of new events, such as new e-mails, messages from social networks or upcoming appointments. The battery status and information about network connections are also displayed there. There are three methods of authentication available in Windows 8: a normal password, a PIN or a picture password. Gestures specified by the user must be performed on a picture password. The custom image should make it easier to find the gestures.

The new task manager in Windows 8

Task manager

The task manager has been replaced by a new application; the "old" task manager was still available in the preview versions. Among other things, running applications are classified into categories (e.g. system processes, modern applications and desktop applications). Inactive applications are stopped to improve performance and marked as "Suspended" in the task manager.


Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise include the Hyper-V virtualization platform , which is also integrated in Windows Server 2008 .

Data backup and system reset

The Enterprise version of Windows 8 contains “Windows to Go”, which enables Windows to be backed up with all programs, settings and data on a USB stick . If this stick is connected to a foreign computer, Windows 8 can start on this. After shutdown, the stick can be removed and no data should remain on the computer used. On the other hand, if you remove the stick while it is running, the operating system freezes, but can continue working without crashing after plugging it in again.

The operating system also offers a reset function. The “extended reset” can be carried out with administrator rights, which resets the computer to the delivery state. The "Refresh" method, which is also available, means that Windows 8 first backs up user data and modern apps, then resets the system and finally restores the data and programs. This should speed up the computer.

File system

In addition to FAT , FAT32, exFAT and NTFS , Windows 8.1 also supports the new ReFS file system . This is compatible with NTFS, but enables an improved check and, if necessary, automatic correction of data. ReFS is not bootable. It can be used on a hard drive formatted in ReFS by Windows Server 2012.

Windows Store

Modern apps can be obtained from the new Windows Store . Microsoft provides for in-app purchases (the expansion of installed programs with additional functions directly from these) and offers the possibility to test the applications free of charge for a limited time. Modern apps can only be downloaded or purchased from the store. The store's detail pages provide an app description, image, hardware requirements, and ratings. Modern apps can be used on a maximum of five computers with Windows 8. These apps start at $ 1.49 .

The PC and video game industries criticize the possible trend towards a more closed platform. Such criticism was expressed by Gabe Newell , CEO of Valve Corporation , Rob Pardo, Vice President of Blizzard Entertainment and Minecraft inventor Markus Persson . The latter emphasized that smaller indie games in particular depend on being able to access free and open platforms for development.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender on Windows 8

Windows Defender not only scans the computer for spy and malware under Windows 8 , but also for viruses and similar malware as well as connections to botnets . The user interface is similar to that of Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1. With Windows Defender, the new operating system has an integrated virus scanner. In the beginning, the protective performance of Windows Defender was often rated worse than paid virus scanners in tests. Over the years, the protection has increased significantly and is now rated as "high" to "very high".

The design of the Windows 8 logo is based on the user interface. In cooperation with the design studio Pentagram , a geometric shape was developed from the previous Windows logo, which should appear modern and classic at the same time. In the logo, the typical Windows window is connected to a tile from the newly introduced interface. As with its predecessor, the word mark is set in Segoe UI . It is also very similar to the Windows 1.0 logo .


The "Product Key" for purchased systems such as PCs or notebooks is no longer supplied as a sticker on the device, but is now stored digitally on the mainboard . Activation occurs automatically when there is an existing online connection.


As announced by Microsoft on April 16, 2012, the operating system is available in four different editions:

  • Windows 8 (range of functions for the home user market),
  • Windows 8 Pro (extended functionality for business customers),
  • Windows 8 Enterprise (full range of functions for corporate customers; sales to companies and organizations only with volume licenses),
  • Windows RT (version for ARM processors ).

Windows 8

Windows 8 ("Core") is the name of the Standard Edition. It contains all the functions that are aimed at the home user market and provides all the new features added in Windows 8 such as the start screen with semantic zoom, the Windows Store, Internet Explorer 11 , connected standby, Microsoft account integration, the Windows desktop, DirectX 11 and much more are available. The Windows Media Center is not included but can be purchased.

The standard version is offered for both 32-bit x86 and x64 processors.

Windows 8 Pro

Windows 8 Pro is the successor to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is aimed at small business owners who use their PC for private and business purposes. Windows 8 Pro contains all the functions of Windows 8 plus a remote desktop server, the ability to participate in a Windows domain , Encrypting File System , Hyper-V and booting from a virtual hard disk , group policies , as well as BitLocker and BitLocker To go. The Windows Media Center is not included. Up until January 31, 2013, the Media Center could be re-installed free of charge; since February 1, 2013, € 9.99 has been charged for subsequent installation.

Like Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro is available for both x86 and x64 processors. An upgrade from an existing installation is available for the previous versions Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate , Windows XP , Windows Vista or if you buy a new PC with a pre-installed version for Windows 7 Starter , Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium .

Windows 8 Pro with Media Center

Windows 8 Pro with Media Center contains all the features of Windows 8 Pro plus the Media Center as well as the necessary codecs for playing DVDs. You can get it by upgrading Windows 8 (Standard Edition) with the Pro-Pack or by purchasing the Media Center for Windows 8 Pro for a price of € 10 (in the upgrade window).

Windows 8.1 with Bing

In spring 2014 Microsoft announced a particularly affordable Windows version for manufacturers. Manufacturers of tablet PCs , laptops or desktop PCs can thus sell their products at significantly lower prices with the pre-installed Windows 8.1 operating system with Bing . This version of Windows 8.1 differs only very slightly from the standard version. The manufacturer is only obliged to keep the search engine Bing set as the default search engine in Internet Explorer. However, this setting can easily be changed by the user. Except in the Windows settings, in which the Windows version is specified as " Windows 8.1 with Bing ", it is no different from Windows 8.1 .

Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows 8 Enterprise includes all the functions of Windows 8 Pro and an additional extended range of functions in the areas of PC management, deployment, security and virtualization. The exclusive functions also include Windows To Go , with which a Windows 8 installation can be started from a USB stick , DirectAccess , with which a VPN- free remote connection can be established between client computers and company networks, BranchCache , with which corporate servers can be created, AppLocker , which can be used to restrict the execution of programs and scripts, and the ability to side-load, which enables Modern apps to be installed without the Windows Store.

This version is offered for 32- and 64-bit processors and is only available under volume license .

Windows Media Center cannot be installed in this edition.

Windows RT

Windows RT is a special version of Windows 8 for devices with ARM processors. It is the first Windows version for ARM processors and is only sold pre-installed. Only modern apps are used; it is not possible to install and run conventional x86 or x64 applications based on the Win32 API. Compared to the standard Windows 8 version , Windows Media Player and Storage Spaces are not included. In Windows RT is Microsoft Office with Word , Excel , PowerPoint and OneNote preinstalled; the office suite is not included in the other editions. Since the update Windows 8.1 is Outlook also preinstalled.

Price development

An upgrade to Windows 8 could be purchased as an introductory offer until January 31, 2013. With the significantly lower price, Microsoft created an increased incentive to buy. According to experts, this decision may have been significantly influenced by the competition in the mobile market, in which Google and Apple hold a predominant position.

System requirements and compatibility

Windows 8 has slightly higher hardware requirements than Windows 7 and, according to experience reports, runs at about the same speed as Windows 7. In addition to BIOS , UEFI is also supported as a firmware or firmware interface. USB 3.0 is supported without additional software from third-party manufacturers.

Minimum requirements for Windows 8 hardware
component architecture
32-bit 64-bit
processor 1 GHz 32-bit processor with PAE , NX / XD and SSE2 support 1 GHz 64-bit processor (from Windows 8.1: With CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW and LAHF / SAHF support)
random access memory 1 GB 2 GB
graphic card DirectX -9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0
screen The minimum resolution for Windows Store apps is 1024 × 768, to use additional features such as docking 1366 × 768
HDD free space 16 GB of free hard disk space 20 GB of free hard disk space
optical drive DVD drive (only for installing DVD media)


In the first month of sales, Microsoft said it was able to sell more than 40 million Windows 8 licenses, which sold better than Windows 7.However, hardware manufacturers complain about slow sales of devices with Windows 8. The market analysis company Context reports that in the first month of sales 48 % of Windows sales were from previous versions.

On January 8, 2013 Microsoft announced new sales figures, according to which 60 million Windows 8 licenses had been sold by then. The sales curve is thus comparable to Windows 7. The Windows App Store recorded over 100 million downloads. Nevertheless, the market share with end customers would be just under two percent. This indicates that, although many licenses were bought by retailers and PC manufacturers, they could not be resold to end customers. According to the market research institute Gartner , sales of Windows-based PCs fell by 4.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012. The NPD Group even recorded a decline of 11% for the 2012 Christmas business.

By May 2013, a good six months after its introduction, over 100 million Windows 8 licenses had been sold. Windows 8 is roughly on par with Windows 7 after half a year. However, sales have slowed recently.

According to data from Net Applications, which analyzes the web browser views of 40,000 websites, the market share of Windows 8 was 4.27% after the first 7 months of availability in retail. In comparison, the market share of Windows Vista after the first 7 months (January 30 to August 31, 2007) was 6.26% and that of Windows 7 was 12.67%.

Support and updates

Windows 8 and RT were supported through January 12, 2016. Microsoft plans to maintain mainstream support for Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 through January 9, 2018, and extended support through January 10, 2023.

Windows 8.1

Microsoft Windows 8.1 (code name Windows Blue ) is a free update to Windows 8. It was released worldwide on October 18, 2013, and in Central Europe on October 17, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. ( CEST ) due to a time difference . The RTM status ( Release to Manufacturing ) was granted at the end of August 2013. The final version of the operating system was already available, but many of the pre-installed Modern UI apps were not yet locally translated. Unlike previous service packs, the update is not delivered via Windows Update , but via the Windows Store . In addition to this reference method, it has also been possible since November 2014 to obtain an ISO image directly , in which the update is already included.


Windows 8.1 is supposed to fix the biggest criticisms of Windows 8 for desktop users too. So it is again possible to start directly on the desktop. The start button has been reintroduced; However, it does not offer a start menu as in Windows 7, but only leads back to the Windows 8 start page. Right-clicking on the start area opens a context menu that is similar to the start menu. Access to the charm bar in the upper right corner of the screen can also be deactivated. With Windows 8.1 it is also possible to freely set the size ratio of the windows when displaying several apps at the same time.

New features / changes compared to Windows 8

The internal version number of Windows 8.1 is Windows NT 6.3 and is therefore a system-changing upgrade that also contains the following changes: By default, the file explorer no longer shows the "libraries" known from Windows 7 and 8. The “Computer” icon is now called “This PC” and no longer only lists all hard drives, but also the user folders such as “Documents”, “Music” or “Pictures”. Windows Store apps can now be closed completely by dragging the app from the top to the bottom of the screen, as in Windows 8, but also waiting briefly until the tile turns around and the app logo can be seen. If you let go, the app will no longer be visible in the task manager after a short time. It is completely closed.


In addition, the Microsoft OneDrive folder is always visible in the navigation bar on the left in Explorer. Windows 8.1 offers the option of uploading all newly created photos and videos with an existing internet connection or using OneDrive as the default storage location instead of the local user folder. Unlike in Windows 8, OneDrive is now part of the operating system.

Bing search

The search function within Modern UI (“tile home page”) now includes personalized, location-based online search results via Bing by default . Local files are listed and, optionally, matching web results such as images, links or store links are displayed.

Skype and Internet Explorer 11

The Internet Explorer 11 offers new features in its Modern UI variant. Since the VoIP client Skype is now available system-wide, Internet Explorer can call phone numbers recognized on websites directly via Skype, if necessary, without having to leave Internet Explorer. For a restricted availability only at certain times of the day, "quiet times" can be set in Windows 8.1. Supported websites can be viewed in a separate " reading mode ". The pure text part of an article is reformatted and displayed on a neutral background in sepia, gray, white or black. The “Share” function now includes more options, such as taking screenshots that can be passed on via email or Twitter.

New and improved Modern UI apps

Compared to Windows 8, significantly more pre-installed Modern UI apps are now used, including many replacement applications for typical Windows accessory programs, such as a sound recorder, an app with help for operation or a scan application. The functionality of the previous apps “Photos”, “Camera”, “Music”, “Videos” has been expanded. For example, the “Photos” app offers basic image processing functions with the option of making exposure corrections and color tone adjustments.

The following apps have been added compared to Windows 8:

  • "Reading list", a watch list for content from the web and apps.
  • "Alarm clock", a simple alarm clock with an integrated stop watch
  • "Help and Tips" provides help for using Windows 8.1
  • “Audio recorder”, an application for recording voice memos
  • “Scan”, simple application for using a scanner.
  • “Pocket calculator”, simple pocket calculator for the Modern UI, which in terms of functions hardly differs from the use of the desktop.
  • "Health & Fitness" offers an information portal on sports exercises, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
  • "Eating & Drinking" is a kind of interactive cookbook with collections of recipes, etc.

Windows 8.1 Update 1

In April 2014, Microsoft released a cumulative update for Windows 8.1 that not only includes bug fixes but also numerous changes to the user interface. The previously often criticized mouse and keyboard operation has been optimized: Apps now have a title bar that can be used to minimize and close them, and the taskbar can now also be displayed within apps. In addition, apps can now also be pinned to the taskbar. If Windows 8.1 is running on a device with a mouse and keyboard, it will now automatically start on the desktop interface. Additional options have been added to the tile interface that allow apps to be uninstalled or resized faster than before. Since the update, the tile view also has a new button with which the options to restart or switch off the PC can be used more easily than before. An installed Windows 8.1 Update 1 is required to obtain the following Windows 8.1 updates.


Appearance and application

Windows 8 has been criticized for the Modern interface, which has been optimized for touch operation, in terms of usability with mouse and keyboard. The new design of the logo for Windows 8 also received criticism. The German computer magazine c't wrote:

“Far worse [than the look] is that [...] two completely different operating and application concepts are next to each other. As a result, it feels like you're constantly switching between two [...] operating systems. [...] Microsoft's plan to marry off concepts that simply don't fit together has not worked so far [in the developer preview]: Here, what doesn't belong together grows together. "

- Daniel Bachfeld, Hajo Schulz, Peter Siering, Axel Vahldiek, Volker Zota : c't, edition 7/2012, p. 91

The Valve founder and long-time Microsoft developer Gabe Newell said:

“The crux of Windows 8 isn't just the way Microsoft is marketing it. […] Windows 8 […] is a single tragedy. It hurts everyone in the computer industry. [...] There was [...] a 20% decrease in new PCs [...] It should be a 40% increase in PC sales, not a 20% decrease, that scares me. [...] I find Windows 8 unusable. "

- Gabe Newell

On the other hand, Spiegel Online came to the conclusion:

“[It's] true that Microsoft has rebuilt its system so radically. If the company had just picked up where it left off with Windows 7, it would have lost touch with reality. [...] Innovation only works if you dare to cut off old braids. "

- Matthias Kremp : Spiegel Online

Hardware coupling through activation

Concerning. Microsoft was criticized for activation because the product key is tied to the exact motherboard on which it was activated by the end-user license agreement . It is controversial whether such a bond is effective in Germany. If it is effective, the Windows license would be lost if the mainboard was defective or replaced.


Web links

Commons : Microsoft Windows 8  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

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