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When Windows 8 first came out, it was met with as much a gasp as by applause. While some have felt that gasp (and some minor grumbling among certain Windows fans) was enough to call it a failure, the truth is, Windows 8 inspired strong reactions because it was so revolutionarily different.

This is the moment Microsoft chose to reorient its Windows focus completely. It moved beyond the technological limitations of the early 2000s and embraced a more forward-looking design and features.

You can easily draw a line in the sand where Windows 8 is. If you want an operating system from Windows that will continue to provide the kind of experience recent apps require, you need 8 (or later). If you want to live in the past, there’s always Windows 7 and earlier.

For those who are as forward-looking as this operating system, Windows 8 has been a joy to use, so much so, that plenty of users have stuck by it even as new editions have been released. To become part of the progress coming out of Microsoft, purchase Windows 8 today.

Why Steer into the Windows 8 Controversy?

Windows 8 was undeniably controversial, but there are plenty of reasons to get it not despite of, but because of the controversy. Whenever something new is released that’s a radical departure from the old, there’s going to be some complaints, but Windows 8 has deserved far more praise than it’s received so far.

Think about how you interact with your devices today. Your experience is probably app-heavy, often touch-based, and more and more connected to the cloud and a unified experience across all devices. That is precisely what Windows 8 achieved years ago. If you want an operating system that predicted current user behavior and is still ahead of its time, you want to start working with Windows 8 now.

All the Features Windows 8 Has to Offer Its Users

Enough selling what Windows 8 stands for, what does it provide? There is a long list of features that come with this operating system. Below are just a few highlights. But even in this taste of what Windows 8 can do for its users, you can see all the potential lurking behind each point on the list.

Metro Tiles for an App-Focused Experience

Any discussion of Windows 8 features has to start with the most noticeable qualities: the presence of the Metro Tiles and the absence of the Start Menu. While some have bewailed the death of the Start Menu (enough that Microsoft reintroduced it soon afterward), the Metro Tiles is actually a simpler and faster way to get where you want to go. By placing your key apps right there on your desktop, you can start work instantly without scrolling through and looking for your app.

The look received mixed reviews, but in fact, it is central to the Windows 8 philosophy: apps are the future, and so we are all about apps.

Faster Start-Up and Faster Access to Apps

Another way Windows 8 distinguishes itself is through its speed. This system is quick. It boots faster, starts faster, and runs apps more quickly than any Windows OS before it.

Universal Apps for a Universal Experience

One of the key ways Windows 8 breaks with its predecessors is far less evident than the missing Start Menu: it’s with universal apps. A universal app provides the same experience and interface on all platforms, allowing you to jump from one device to another and get the same experience. Windows 8 has pioneered this in its OS. So, not only are apps prominent and faster on this version of Windows, but they’re also more useful.

A Greater Connection to the Windows Store

Windows Store gets a redesign in Windows 8, where you can not only get your traditional apps, you can also get Metro-style apps that have been designed to function perfectly on the operating system.

A Touch-Focused Experience

With all of those apps, you have to know that there’s a greater focus on the touchscreen. This is an increasingly important part of how every user interacts with their devices. Whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or frequently a laptop or desktop, touch is becoming the primary navigation tool for users. Windows 8 anticipated this trend and made the touchscreen capability a central focus.

A More Secure Operating System

On the touchscreen front, there’s more security that comes with this operating system, including new PINs and picture passwords. There’s also more antivirus protection through Windows Defender. Plus, there’s more parental controls and new system recovery. With Windows 8, you are far more secure every time you log on than you were on any previous Windows edition.

A Greater Connection to the Internet

It isn’t just apps that are changing how we interact with technology, it’s also the cloud, and as you might expect by now, Windows 8 is right there with the latest features to get the most from this trend. Users can now sign into Windows 8 users a Microsoft account instead of a standard login. That might seem like a small point to emphasize, but it has significant ramifications. This makes it possible to sync all your apps and settings across your devices. You can have everything set up the same when you use your phone, your tablet, and your desktop.

Another major improvement is the integration with SkyDrive, w which allows your apps to store directly to the SkyDrive cloud, helping you get the universal app experience, with all your settings and information shared across your devices.

A Closer Connection to Your Xbox Experience

For the gamers out there, Windows 8 makes some significant improvements on how integrated Xbox is into the operating system. You can now integrate games through an Xbox Live app, while also working through multimedia apps like Xbox Music, Xbox Video, and Xbox SmartGlass that work closely with your Xbox console.

The Windows 8.1 Difference

While the original Windows 8 release remains a popular choice, there is some reason to consider getting the second release of the operating system in 8.1 instead. Windows 8.1 makes a few key changes. Of most significant note is the return of the Start Menu, while keeping the Metro Tiles.

There are also some other powerful improvements, like the ability to switch between up to four apps at once on your screen. There’s also better searching capabilities powered by Bing and the ability to work with 3D printing.