Microsoft has expanded the scope of its SmartScreen technology, too. Previous versions were limited to protecting Internet Explorer from malicious sites and rogue downloads. With Windows 8, SmartScreen applies to all network traffic, meaning that it provides the same security whether you're using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome--or if you're just downloading files across the network.
7. Storage Spaces
Hard drives keep getting larger and cheaper, but newer hardware such as Ultrabooks and tablets tend to rely on smaller-capacity solid-state drives for storage. Windows 8's Storage Spaces feature lets you expand your storage without replacing your drive, and without having to add new drive letters and then try to manage which applications or data get stored on which drive.
Storage Spaces lets you create a pool of storage that can span internal and external drives, and combine storage using different interfaces so that the operating system views and treats everything as being on one large drive. Storage Spaces also uses data mirroring across the drives so that, even if one of the drives in the pool crashes, the data will remain available.
8. SkyDrive integration
As great as Storage Spaces can be, it works only if the various drives in the pool are connected to the Windows 8 PC. When you're on the go, using the cloud to expand your storage options makes more sense. Microsoft has woven access to its cloud storage service, SkyDrive, throughout Windows 8.
The SkyDrive app on the Windows 8 Start screen provides quick access to data stored in the cloud. You can easily add files to SkyDrive from the Share charm in the Windows 8 charms bar, and data stored in SkyDrive is available from virtually anywhere, over just about any Web-connected device.
Businesses that subscribe to Office 365 Small Business Premium get a more robust approach to cloud storage. The SkyDrive Pro app provides essentially the same benefits and functionality as SkyDrive, but it ties back to SharePoint and delivers more collaborative tools and better IT management for data than the personal SkyDrive account does.
9. New Task Manager
The Task Manager has always been a powerful but underused tool in Windows. In Windows 8, though, it receives a complete makeover that makes it both easier to use, and more valuable than ever.