Explaining The Key Features of Windows 8 (Part 2)

Windows 8 Key Features

We are exploring the Windows Store, Xbox Live and Bing Maps in this article

The second part of our look at the key features in Windows 8, including Bing Maps

A little while ago we provided a run-down of some notable features in Windows 8, including the gestures that can be used. Today, we take a look at some of the apps in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Microsoft has preinstalled apps on the Consumer Preview, called ‘Windows Communication’ apps. These include Mail, People and Messaging. The Mail app allows users to sing in quickly, while maintaining the functional of Outlook. Though while there’s no SMS integration, users can message Facebook and Windows Live Messenger contacts. Contacts are pulled from the People app.

Bing Maps is also included in the Consumer Preview. The app offers similar functionality to Google Maps with traffic, location and directions which can be used when out. Adding to the truly ‘mobile’ device, the Camera app has a front and back camera. Photos can also be used in conjunction with Microsoft’s cloud storage service, SkyDrive, and Facebook.

Xbox 360 integration

With the Zune branding all but dead, new apps have been created: Music and Videos. These function in basically the same ways as the Xbox does, with users also been required to sign in to a “Microsoft Account” (as spoken about before). The new Microsoft Account also reflect the removal of the Windows Live branding, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Xbox Live is re-branded to something else when the next generation of consoles arrive.

There is also a Xbox Live “hub” in Windows 8, which brings over all the usual features such as yours Friends Lists and collection of games. Searching for and selecting games also gives users a brief description of the title, the option to play a demo if available and the option to install/buy. Xbox Live integration is also in, with achievements available to view.

We’ve talked about the Xbox Live Companion app before, so we want explain too much. However, as a brief summary: you can launch Xbox Live console games from a PC, bringing value to Windows 8 over its predecessors which failed to connect the two services despite Xbox Live’s huge growth.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is available now for download.

Published: Monday, March 12th, 2012 Last Modified: March 12, 2012

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