Microsoft has announced the launch date for the new Windows 8 as the last week in October. Big deal, huh?
Well, actually it is kind of a big deal. Whereas there are a number of visual changes, there are also some security changes that may not be as apparent but are pretty important nonetheless.
Windows 8 will be the first operating system to have a free, pre-installed anti-virus and anti-spyware built into the system.
Windows 8 will have Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender already installed and operational right from the factory. That is a serious approach to keeping your computer safe and malware free.
Some of you are probably asking if you should keep it or find something else, right? Microsoft Security Essentials came out a few years ago and it does a pretty good job at keeping the bad guys out while not slowing down your computer too much.
Windows Defender has been around for a number of years and, in my opinion, has an OK rating as far as an anti-malware program. I still recommend either Malwarebytes or SuperAnti-Spyware as your main protective program.
Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials are good but are mainly for those who still believe the world is safe and there is no need for a protective program. Bravo, Microsoft for recognizing this need and filling it.
Windows 8 comes with much safer download protection. The Smart Screen Filter will automatically screen your downloads for viruses and will check them against an updated list of harmful programs to ensure that you are not installing a potential threat to your computer.
This Smart Screen Filter works regardless of the Internet browser you use (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, FireFox, etc.). You will also see less security warning pop-ups as a result of the Smart Screen Filter. Yeah!
Windows 8 promises a faster and safer start-up time. Microsoft says it will take 8 seconds from the time you press the On/Off button until Windows is ready to go. This is due to a new start-up method.
I won’t get too technical here but basically the antiquated BIOS boot system is being replaced by a newer more secure and effective system of starting your computer.
In addition to starting your computer faster, the new system will also scan for any malware that may have become attached to your start up and will prevent it from installing. This is a huge step in security. Malware such as root kits and such were previously activated by restarting your computer.
Now with this advanced start up and scanning, they will be prevented from installing. If this works, it will fantastic.
Picture passwords will be introduced in Windows 8. For the picture password, you choose a photo or image and draw three gestures (a combination of circles, straight lines, or taps/clicks) in different places to create your “password.” We will have to see how that works, but you will also have a regular PIN for your login and other secure actions.
There are a number of other improvements in Windows 8 to make it faster and more conducive to touch-screen monitors but having said all this, what are we in for with this new operating system?
Every new operating system introduced to the public whether it is a Windows operating system or Mac, is likely to have bugs and things that need to be improved upon before they are considered to be great operating systems.
Windows XP was a real dog when it first came out and now, after a number of years, it is considered a great operating system. Windows Vista was just a HUGE mistake and nothing can save that white elephant.
Windows 7 has had its share of trials and tribulations but overall, it is a good operating system and does not cause too many headaches. We will have to let time render the final verdict for Windows 8, but it does seem
Microsoft has taken a step in the right direction in terms of helping keep your computer safe from outside threats, so I would give it a chance. After the last week in October it will be standard on all new PCs.
• Resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services, based in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.