Windows 8

Windows 8
Version of Microsoft Windows
Windows 8 logo and wordmark.svg
OS familyWindows NT
CodenameWindows 8
Preliminary name
Architecturex86, x64, ARM32
Latest build6.2.9200.16384 (win8_rtm)
Release date2012-10-26
Support end2016-01-12
Server counterpart
Windows Server 2012
Windows 7
Replaced by
Windows 8.1

Windows 8 is an operating system developed by Microsoft. It is the ninth major release in the Windows NT operating system line, replacing Windows 7 and being later replaced by Windows 8.1. It reached RTM on 1 August 2012 and was released to general availability on 26 October 2012. Windows 8 was one of the most short-lived releases, and its support ended on 12 January 2016, as extended support was in favor of Windows 8.1. Despite of this, it still runs on 0.66% of desktop and laptop computers as of July 2022.[1]

This is the first version of Windows to drop support for processors without PAE, SSE2 and NX, as running on these processors will cause an UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR bugcheck upon boot. It is also the last version of 64-bit Windows to support processors without the CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW and LAHF/SAHF instructions.

It is the first client release of Windows to drop the traditional Service Pack mechanism in favor of releasing updates in smaller chunks on a continual basis.

Editions[edit | edit source]

Windows 8 comes in the following editions:

  • Windows 8 (also known as Core) is the base edition intended for the average home user.
    • Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 for ARM-based tablets. Compared to other editions, it can only launch applications that either originate from the Windows Store or were digitally signed by Microsoft. It is functionally identical to the aforementioned Core edition.
    • Windows 8 Single Language is same as Core but limited to a single installed language pack.
    • Windows 8 China (also known as Core Country Specific) is same as Single Language but only allows the Simplified Chinese language pack to be installed. This is a special variant targeting the mainland China market.
  • Windows 8 Pro is targeted at enthusiast and business markets. Compared to Core, it adds the ability to run Hyper-V virtual machines, receive RDP connections and BitLocker support.
    • Windows 8 Pro with Media Center is a variant of Pro that also includes the Windows Media Center.
  • Windows 8 Enterprise is designed for large organizations and can only be activated with a KMS server or MAK keys. It has the same feature set as Pro but supports creating Windows To Go portable workspaces.

Main changes[edit | edit source]

Interface[edit | edit source]

Windows 8 was largely designed for use on touchscreen devices such as tablets, and this can be seen all across the OS, with includes bigger buttons, more distinct colors, and a more modern interface with the removal of Aero transparency on open windows. The taskbar is still transparent, even though it doesn't blur anything behind it anymore. The renewal of the classic Windows shell was accompanied by the addition of the Metro interface, which includes a new Start menu (named Start screen), with a full-screen UI replacing the smaller Start menu first introduced in Windows 95. From the Start screen, Metro apps can be launched, which can take the entire screen, providing an immersive interface, or be snapped to a side of the screen alongside another application or the desktop. The File Explorer also got a renewal, with the introduction of the Ribbon UI first seen in Windows 7. The Up button, which was absent by default or unavailable since Windows Longhorn build 3670 (except for early Vista post-reset builds like build 3790.1232 and build 5001), has been readded and the details pane is now vertical.

The Metro UI is directly integrated with the desktop, which features hot corners: positioning the mouse in certain parts of the screen will reveal new functionality. The right side features the Charms Bar, a vertical bar that includes Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings as buttons. Right-clicking on the bottom left corner of the screen opens the Quick Link menu, which contains shortcuts to frequently used areas.

Windows 8 was the first Windows operating system ever since Windows NT 3.51 to have no Start button. Although the last build of Windows 8 to have the Start button by default was 8176, it is possible to remove the Start button from the taskbar, on builds 7899 to 8102. To accomplish this, a new DWORD value in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer called YouBettaHideYoPearl is required to be made, with its value set to 1. After doing so, log off and log back in. If done correctly, the Start button should be removed.

Desktop Window Manager now renders using a software-based 3D rasterizer when such an accelerator is unavailable. Additionally, the Windows Classic and Windows Basic themes have been removed. Although the visual styles still exist, they cannot be enabled by default unless the user modifies the system files.

Progress windows have been modified to remove the animation on the top and make it possible to view "more details", including a graph for tracking transfer speeds. It is also possible to pause file transfer operations.

Notifications have been updated to be more noticeable, as they appear on the right of the screen and are the same color as the current theme.

Task Manager[edit | edit source]

The Task Manager now opens up in a simple view which only displays a list of open programs and not processes. Expanding the view reveals a modernized and improved version of the classic Task Manager, featuring tabs and a bigger focus on memory usage.

Windows Store[edit | edit source]

Windows Store allows the consumer to distribute and download Metro apps or advertise desktop software. The Windows Store would later be redesigned in Windows 8.1. The Store was called "MSHelp" in order to disguise its true purpose between builds 7814 and 8032. The Windows Store would later be rebranded as the Microsoft Store in September 2017 in an update for the app for Windows 10 devices.

Media Center[edit | edit source]

Unlike Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows Media Center is not included by default in any Windows 8 edition. Customers with existing Windows 8 Pro licenses can purchase Media Center with the Windows 8 Pro Pack, which was free previously under a promotional offer (until 31 January 2013).

Display language support[edit | edit source]

Microsoft offered 109 display languages in Windows 8,[2] 14 more than Windows 7, adding the following localizations:

  • English (United Kingdom)
  • Punjabi (Pakistan)
  • Sindhi (Pakistan)
  • Central Kurdish (Iraq)
  • Uyghur (People's Republic of China)
  • Belarusian (Belarus)
  • Kinyarwanda (Rwanda)
  • Tigrinya (Ethiopia)
  • Tajik (Tajikistan)
  • Wolof (Senegal)
  • K'iche' (Guatemala)
  • Scottish Gaelic (United Kingdom)
  • Cherokee (United States)
  • Valencian (Spain)

Startup sound[edit | edit source]

There is a widespread misconception that Windows 8 as well as 8.1 uses this sound as the startup sound. However, this sound is Windows Logon.wav in %SystemRoot%\Media, but goes unused and isn't the startup sound. In reality, the Windows Vista/7 startup sound remains in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, but it's disabled by default. To enable the startup sound:

  1. Right-click the volume tray icon, then click Sounds.
  2. Check "Play Windows startup sound", then click Apply.
  3. Navigate to Control Panel → System and Security → Power Options, click "Choose what the power buttons do" in the left bar.
  4. Click "Change settings that are currently unavailable", then uncheck "Turn on fast startup (recommended)", then click OK.

Another way to disable fast startup is running powercfg -h off as administrator.

The actual startup sound is embedded in %SystemRoot%\System32\imageres.dll, which requires a third-party software tool like Resource Hacker to view its resources. As mentioned above, this is also in Vista and 7, persisting up to Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Windows 10 May 2019 Update and later versions relocated the resources of imageres.dll to %SystemRoot%\SystemResources\imageres.dll.mun).

List of known builds[edit | edit source]

Milestone 1[edit | edit source]

Milestone 2[edit | edit source]

Milestone 3 (Developer Preview)[edit | edit source]

Consumer Preview[edit | edit source]

Release Preview[edit | edit source]

Pre-RTM[edit | edit source]

RTM Escrow[edit | edit source]

RTM[edit | edit source]

Post-RTM[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  2. Sinofsky, Steven. Using the language you want, Building Windows 8. 21 February 2012. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019.