There has been much written about Microsoft Windows 8. I do not wish to add to the melee. I want to take a look at Windows from the point of view of an ecosystem rather than a stand alone operating system. In my humble opinion the Windows Ecosystem (just a term I coined) is the richest ecosystem out there. Sure there are Apple (iPhone, iPad, Mac), Google (android, Google-drive) and other ecosystems out there, I think the Windows one gives users the richest experience.
The key to Windows Ecosystem is a Microsoft account. If you have used Outlook (formerly Hotmail) or have a OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) account you already have a Microsoft account. A Windows ecosystem typically consists of a PC, a tablet and a phone (all running Windows of course!)
My Laptop : Windows 8.1 64 bit (HP m4 – 1003TX: Intel i5 2.7GHz third gen, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M)
Dad’s desktop: Windows 8.1 32 bit (Custom made, 1080p screen, Intel i3 3.3 GHz third Gen, 4GB RAM)
My Phone: Nokia Lumia 710 – Windows 7.8 (I was one of the early adopters and I do not change my phone at the drop of a hat)
The best thing about windows 8 is the ability to login to a device with a Microsoft Account. My Microsoft Account is administrator account on my laptop, guest account on my dad’s desktop and default account on my phone. I have enabled all the Sync options on OneDrive so whether I logon to my laptop or dad’s desktop I get the same lock-screen, same apps with same categorization (different placing due to resolution differences) same files and folders down to hierarchy under OneDrive.
The People App across all devices use contacts by default from Outlook (Hotmail) but services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo! and even Google can be linked. Common contacts are automatically detected and updated. New contacts are added. Contacts from Windows Phone are also added. If a single contact appears more than once and has not been automatically detected to be the same, one can manually link the contacts. So basically, irrespective of the device, you have the same contacts; which means when I upgrade to a newer Windows Phone I won’t have to scramble for contacts, they will be automatically retrieved.
Photos and Documents
All windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.x / 7.x have an auto upload to OneDrive for Camera roll – a useful feature for phone and tablet, not so much for a PC. However on PC, OneDrive appears on the left side of file explorer as if it were part of the computer and behaves just like any other folder (after Windows 8.1 update). Documents are set to be auto saved to OneDrive. So I can start editing a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, or any other file for that matter, on one device and continue editing it on any other (including online) as if it were created on that device.
One of the unsung features of Outlook is the calendar. When different accounts such as Facebook are linked to Microsoft account, the birthdays of contacts are automatically imported. The Calendar App on Windows 8 devices syncs with this calendar making it available on all devices. I can create events on my phone and view them on PC (and other way round) and get notification on all. All this without having to open a web browser, heck even without unlocking the device as the calendar notifications are displayed on lock screen itself!
Since Outlook is primarily an e-mail service, a part of the grander scheme, there is of course the Mail App on all devices. The Mail App on Windows 8 devices is pretty neat. It automatically categorizes “Newsletters” and “Social updates” mails so that they don’t clutter your inbox. With this app you get uniform UI on each device. Again all you need to do is to sign in to a device with your Microsoft Account and you will get your own mails.
In a nutshell, you carry your important data, mails, events and photos without having to carry a physical device. Everything you need is securely stored on the cloud. Unlike other cloud services you do not need additional software or web browser to access your data; it comes to your Windows 8 device automatically with your Microsoft Account. Considering 15.8% (according to w3schools) of the computers run on Windows 8, it makes a compelling case for a them to buy a Windows Phone over Android or BlackBerry or iPhone now doesn’t it?
Windows 8 logo courtesy: gomez147