Any time we get a new operating system from our friends in Redmond, it’s cause for a nervous kind of celebration. I mean that speaking just as a consumer; innovation is exciting! You have to recognize the enormous effort and design triumph that is Windows 8, even if, like me, you have only a limited experience with it.
I first saw a test version of Windows 8 at an internal Norton meeting. We get to play and work with pre-release versions of all operating systems because our Norton security products are so fundamental to the safe use of computers. And every operating system wants to go out the door with safety elements ready at the same time. So our engineers had been working with Windows 8 for quite a while in order to be sure all of our core Norton security products were compatible in time for last week’s launch. While they were at it, they set up a demo station for the rest of us to take it for a spin.
My first impression? The use of big brightly colored graphic tiles to represent apps and entry points into your music, photos and social networking was exciting. It felt like a computer crossed with a web page crossed with a video game. Some of you are already familiar with this interface because it’s been in use with the Windows phone and Xbox gaming systems. But on a PC it feels more like a game changer, especially because it will drive adoption of touch screen systems beyond tablets.
As I tried things out, I felt a bit lost. Where was my Start button? How do I open up familiar Windows programs like Microsoft Office? Where were utilities basics like the Control Panel or the Task Manager? I had to get a Norton developer over to walk me through it. So instead of me feeling like I could fully embrace any and all new technology (“bring it on!”), I felt a sobering kind of worry descend, making me wonder if I wasn’t “getting” it.
Now that Windows 8 is finally here, Microsoft has built out a variety of educational videos and web pages to answer and demonstrate the answers to all these questions. I encourage you to visit their website, take Windows 8 for a spin and look over some of the new touch screen devices designed to work well with Windows 8. I know the first time I see someone on an airplane using a Win8 device, they will have a crowd of people looking on and asking questions, just like when the iPad first came out. And once people get over the initial sense of disruption to the familiar, I suspect Windows 8 will eventually feel just right.
Like any operating system, you need to secure Windows 8 with security software. It will ship with an embedded version of Windows Defender. It’s pretty basic and not sufficient to protect the user and their data from the barrage of new threats we at Norton see every day. Even Microsoft advises their user to purchase security software to keep their system safe. The newest versions of our flagship security products; Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security and Norton 360 are already Windows 8 compatible. And we offer new apps for the new Windows 8 environment. These new apps are designed to help Windows 8 run faster and safer. One is called Norton Studio and it allows you to manage all your Norton products. The other is called Norton Satellite and it monitors services like your Facebook newsfeed and popular online file sharing services for any malicious activity or files. You’ll find these Norton-branded apps in the Metro app store under “PC Protection.”