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Windows 8 Features and Improvements

As is the case with any major operating system upgrade, there are a fair share of improvements and new features you will encounter when using Windows 8 for the first time.

Windows 8 is for Sharing

The ability to share information between multiple platforms and different accounts is one of Windows 8's most powerful features. Synchronizing PC, laptop and smartphone settings is quick and easy, and the operating system allows users to customize what information is shared and what stays private.

Windows 8 apps allow users to monitor social media sites, image hosting sites and other online accounts at a glance through "toasts," or streaming notifications. Features such as the Photo app allow users to access images in local folders, SkyDrive (an online storage site), Flickr and Facebook. One of Microsoft's stated goals with Windows 8 is to facilitate information sharing, and the operating system certainly looks like it delivers.

Built–In Protection

Windows 8 comes with a built–in firewall, which is not a surprise, as Windows 7 had the same feature. The new operating system, however, adds antivirus protection to its Security Essentials program, including a feature protecting against malware in bootable USB drives.

One Browser, Two Versions

Open the included Internet Explorer and you get a browser that runs exclusively on HTML 5 and doesn't support Flash or website plug-ins. Access Internet Explorer from the Classic Desktop (it’s the tile marked “Desktop” on the Start page), however, and you get a browser that supports plug-ins. If you're using Windows 8 on a portable device, this option could be quite helpful: An HTML 5 browser conserves battery power and provides a more secure browsing experience.

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