Secure boot ensures the operating system being booted hasn't been corrupted by verifying that the kernel is the one that was signed with a Microsoft certificate. Trusted boot calls for launching anti-malware before the operating system itself boots in order to thwart malware that might try to disable it.
This is all new for Windows and security experts say represents a significant improvement in maintaining the integrity of the system.
Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, is integrated into Windows 8. That is, if customers buy the Skype application at the Windows Store, the app integrates with certain other apps such as the People app where the contact information for individuals is stored in the cloud and managed. Skype friends are automatically listed there. The Skype tile that appears on the Start screen is live and displays the most recent missed calls and pending messages.
Users can call others who have Skype clients or with a new dial pad in the application can call phones on the public network using prepaid minutes.
Before Windows 8, hardware for Windows machines had to be based on x86 processors -- the old WinTel model. But that changes with Windows 8.
A special version of Windows 8 called Windows RT is not only designed for devices with ARM processors, the only way you can buy it is packaged with the ARM hardware. Microsoft itself is breaking its longstanding tradition of letting its OEM partners bundle Windows software with hardware by introducing Surface RT, a Windows 8 ARM tablet with an optional keyboard.
The upside of ARM is that it consumes less power than x86 chips, extending battery life for mobile use that takes users away from power outlets.
Surface RT seems aimed at consumers who want the functionality of a tablet but also want to use traditional Microsoft productivity applications. To that end, Windows RT includes an abbreviated version of Microsoft Office. One caveat: The version of Office that comes with Windows RT devices cannot be used for commercial purposes, so a separate commercial license is needed to use Windows RT at work.
Like the name suggests, SkyDrive is cloud-based storage for Windows 8 documents, photos and PC settings. It can also integrate with Windows Phone, so a copy of pictures shot with the phone are automatically sent to the SkyDrive account. With an account, users can tap into their stored resources from whatever machine is available.