Windows 8 is one of the biggest departures from what we know of Microsoft operating systems since Windows 2000 and the introduction of Active Directory over a decade ago. So I thought it would be a good idea to show you fine folks what it's all about so you're not met with huge surprises when it drops in October. Last time we took a look at basic navigation and operation in Windows 8 Professional –namely what's different from Windows 7 as far as the user interface and your UI experience. The biggest glaring difference was of course what I called 8 Mode, the touch-friendly cell phone-style skin than lies on top of the 7-style desktop. Today we'll be going into a few of the more functional features that Windows 8 is packing – one page borrowed from Apple's playbook and another from Linux.
One of the biggest points I try to drill into everyone is the importance of data backups. I've seen people lose a lot of data, from something easily retrievable like music to something irreplaceable like baby photos. And unfortunately it's generally not until some sort of data loss like that that people start heeding the advice of their local IT nerd. Microsoft did actually have a native backup program built into previous versions of Windows, but not many people used it – in fact the Windows engineering team estimates that the total number of users is less than 5% of all Windows users. It just never really took off, and there were a number of improvements that could have been made. So traditionally I advised people to burn data to discs or an external hard drive, or even to use a consumer cloud solution. Windows 8 seems to have improved on that backup and recovery solution with their new file history feature.
It works kind of like Time Machine if you're familiar with MacOS. Instead of periodically taking a snapshot of files on your backup schedule like the occasional copy or burn, file history is something that continually runs to check for changes to files that are flagged for file history. To set it up the only thing that a user has to do is to configure a destination drive to backup to, and that's it. Outside of any exceptions selected, from that point on every file (excluding the exceptions set by the user) is checked every hour for changes and backed up if needed. File history is designed only for a user's local libraries and not windows system files. This means that users will take less of a resource hit when it scans for file changes, and who really cares about OS files anyway? They can always be re-installed with little issue.