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by Ray Carlson

Q. You mentioned that Windows 8 will use touch screens. Are there any useful features in Windows 8 for someone who has a regular screen?

A. Yes. There are several new features, but only you can decide if they are useful to you. For example, one that received positive feedback is the fast start-up time. The start-up screen is designed for touch but works fine with keyboard and mouse. It appears almost immediately. You can select a program or do a quick search without waiting for the setup that occurs with older versions.

Windows 8 adds a file history program that scans for changes in documents, contacts, libraries and the like on an hourly basis [or at whatever time frame you request.] It will store the old versions on an external storage device or cloud-based location. If you decide you want to revert to an earlier version, you can go to the storage area and reactivate the preferred version.

Microsoft also added reset and refresh keys. Press reset, and in about fifteen minutes, the computer will be restored to its original status eliminating all the files and information you added. That can be useful if you have to leave your computer for repair or want to loan it to someone. Tapping the Refresh key preserves your user data including documents, pictures and music, and eliminates everything else including malware, messed up files, and the like. It will not normally reinstall programs you added [which could include malware], but after you added and tested such programs, you can instruct it to consider that point as the starting status, and it will refresh to that point in the future. As noted, this process never deletes any personal items.

I could go on with other new features like a security sandbox or the ability to have two programs operating on the screen, but it is probably better to wait for future columns or the discussion at the Prescott Computer Society's meetings to clarify such features.

Published: Courier 8/19/12 - Page 4C