Sandro Villinger, a Windows enthusiast has posted a summary of some of the known and unknown Windows 8 features discovered over the past couple of months.
Villinger makes a passing mention of something named (or codenamed) “Protogon.” According to Villinger:
“I’ve also dug up traces of some underlying file system changes that I couldn’t quite make sense of, such as an entirely new file system driver called “NT Protogon FS driver”, which looks like a kernel mode driver for some sort of (yet unknown) file system called Protogon. It’s unclear, whether this’s a major new file system or just some minor subsystem.”
Rafael Rivera of “WithinWindows” explains that Protogon, “looks something like a database-like concepts like transactions, cursors, rows and tables. He said it includes a string, which seems to indicate Protogon could replace or at least emulate NTFS (the NT file system) as needed.” Rivera also wondered if Protogon might be an update of the “Jet Blue” file system/extensible storage engine adapted for the latest version of Active Directory and Exchange Server.
Here’s a quick list of Villinger’s top 10 features of Windows vNext:
- Windows Store:
Microsoft enters the lucrative app market, no surprise here. While “Windows Store” (which is the company’s name for the online app shop) obviously doesn’t work in this early build, the related DLLs and XML resources are already in place and ready to be examined by a variety of tools, such as PE Explorer or Resource Hacker.
- Two-class society:
Windows 8 will come in two separate interfaces flavors — one traditional UI that resembles Windows 7’s Aero and one touch-friendly UI specifically tailored to tablets dubbed “Immersive UI”. The latter isn’t fully implemented (or is too well hidden) in the early Milestone build, yet some specific tablet applications have already been unlocked:
Internet Explorer Immersive: A touch-centric version of Microsoft’s IE browser that includes just an address bar (which auto-hides), a browser history and a tabbed view.
Modern Reader: Microsoft’s own implementation of a (basic) PDF viewer that has only bare navigation and bookmarking support. (Still, Adobe likely won’t be too happy about this.)
System Settings: A touch-optimized “Control Panel” that caters to mobile needs, such as connectivity, time zone settings or device management.
These few tablet apps are literally the tip of the iceberg — the entire UI has yet to be revealed. While digging through Windows 8’s various files, I found hints suggesting that users will be able to switch between the traditional Windows 8 UI and the tablet UI, through what’s codenamed the “UIPicker”. Also, we’ve found traces of a “Dock” that is supposed to hold built-in Windows features (such as a search box) and 3rd party apps.
- Boot in under 20 seconds?:
Windows 8 sports a new Hybrid Boot mode which drastically reduces (cold) boot time and will most likely be the default boot option going forward. In essence, it’s a combination of “Log Off” and “Hibernate” — the moment users click on the shutdown button, Windows closes all running apps, logs off and then goes into hibernation mode. Instead of booting up regularly, which usually involves loading hundreds of files and initializing services, drivers and so forth, Windows 8 simply loads the single hibernation file into memory and presents you with the log on screen. I’ve benchmarked the results on two machines and came away impressed:
Hybrid Boot cut boot time in half. However, Hybrid Boot works only if users actually shut down their machines. If a user restarts his or her machine, it boots up cold.
- Automatic Maintenance regularly checks for solutions to problems (via Windows Error Report), runs the .NET Optimization Service and defrags all hard disks automatically — all of this happens while the PC is on idle, of course.
Automatic Maintenance tries to fix Windows problems, runs a disk defrag and an optimization service for .NET applications.
- Disk Defragmenter is finally capable of handling SSD drives and allows users to perform the TRIM command much easier than in Windows 7.
Disk Defragmenter with SSD (“Trim”) support
In addition, I’ve found a new Windows service called “Spot Verifier”. According to its descriptions and its related DLL files, it checks for bad sectors in real-time and marks them as “bad” in order to avoid data loss or damage. I’ve also dug up traces of some underlying file system changes that I couldn’t quite make sense of, such as an entirely new file system driver called “NT Protogon FS driver”, which looks like a kernel mode driver for some sort of (yet unknown) file system called Protogon. It’s unclear, whether this is a major new file system or just some minor subsystem.
- Performance boost:
Windows 8 somehow manages to perform snappier than an identically configured Windows 7 installation. The log on/off process, launching applications, doing heavy multitasking and performing day-to-day tasks is just a tad quicker — Microsoft managed to reduce any delay there was and improve responsiveness.
- Usability goal: Click reduction:
Neither the traditional nor the classic Windows UI are anywhere near finished. Yet, Microsoft’s usability department is busy simplifying the user interface and reducing overall complexity. For example, once you connect to a public Wi-Fi, Windows 8 offers a new dialog to enter the user name and password to get online access:
Windows 7 users would need to connect to the Wi-Fi, open up a browser and then wait for the online provider’s landing page to pop up.
- Windows Explorer is the next tool that received (quite) a UI overhaul and a perfect example of where Microsoft reduces the steps necessary to perform tasks: Like it or not, Windows 8 is likely to come with a ribbonized version of Windows Explorer. While actually working with this explorer for a couple of weeks we have to admit that, despite its hideous look, it’s absolutely wonderful to work with. Day-to-day file tasks are simpler and the ribbon adapts to the file contents (for example, “Music Tools” below. Click here for a full-size image).
- ISO mounting tool:
eliminating the need to go and download 3rd party tools, which’re often riddled with annoying toolbars and ads.
- Windows Time Machine:
Microsoft finally managed to give its “Restore Previous Versions” (Volume Shadow Copy) feature a usable and intuitive interface: History Vault lets you go back in time and restore earlier versions of a folder — just in case you accidentally made some unwanted changes or deleted some of its contents, which’s pretty similar to Apples Time Machine in Mac OS X.