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Windows 8 : the future of touch screen

Windows 8 is a dramatic change from previous versions of Windows. It is completly design for touch screen. But only if you want it to be. The old desktop—basically everything you would see in Windows 7—is still there, with its task bar and folders and windows. It's still there, but now there's a new layer of the OS that's built around information and visually driven "tiles" that display things like message snippets, the weather, sports scores, or photos. The name for this layer is still up in the air, but we're calling it Metro here. It is designed to be touch-friendly, but it exists in the PC version because Microsoft has merged its tablet and PC operating systems.

Even if you're dead-set on changing absolutely no part of your Windows day-to-day while using Windows 8, there's one part stands out even on the desktop: Metro remakes all of your windows. Instead of the glassy, transparent, rounded look of Windows 7 (Aero Glass), the new windows are sharp, with solid colors and cleaner lines. It's a superficial change, but it affects the entire visual makeup of the desktop.

The move away from Aero Glass gives apps on the desktop a visual fidelity that has been missing for a long time. Things feel solid. Like they fit together. Like they're not just haphazardly pieced together chunks of pixels and code. And the uniformly colored window panels that fade to gray when they are not selected do an excellent job of drawing your focus to the task at hand. It's an extremely sophisticated boost to the user experience. A nice little bonus is that Microsoft's new streaming music service, Xbox Music, is automatically attached to your account, and active in the default Music app. Think of it as a built-in Spotify. That means you'll literally be able to just start up Windows 8 for the first time and play free music right away. That's a great touch.

Will Windows 8's New Look Actually Affect You?

No, not yet, not if you don't want it to. If you want, you'll be able to operate more or less as you have in Windows 7, with some minor changes, mostly for the better. That's what desktop mode is for. But the writing is on the wall. Nearly all of the features in need of upgrades that have been left largely untouched are associated with the non-Metro desktop and its structure.

Should You Buy It?

Many of you won't have a choice. This is the operating system that will come pre-installed on your PC for the foreseeable future. And that's a good thing! If you're thinking about upgrading, well, that means you actually care about this thing. And if you care about this thing, you should definitely give it a try. Especially for $40 flat and $15 if you bought a PC recently.

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