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Eight features Windows 8 borrowed from Linux

Sandro Villinger | Feb. 14, 2012
"Good artists borrow, great artists steal!" -- Pablo Picasso said it. So did T.S. Eliot. And, more recently, Steve Jobs. Let's face it: If something makes sense and succeeds, it gets imitated.

The Microsoft twist: No Linux distro does ISO mounting as easily as Windows 8, as it requires some command line trickery (or, again, third-party tools). Thanks to all commenters for chipping in: Of course, easy ISO mounting is part of various Linux distributions -- both via the GUI and command line.

3. Windows To Go

Windows To Go allows (enterprise) users to create a bootable Windows 8 environment on a USB 2.0/3.0 flash drive. It even supports unplugging the drive, which causes the OS to freeze momentarily until you plug the Windows To Go stick back in. Awesome.

The Microsoft twist: Obviously, such "live environments" have been around for quite a while in the Linux world, but their performance was never quite up to par with a natively running OS. Since Microsoft optimized their NTFS file system for such a scenario, Windows 8 runs fluently even on USB 2.0. Upon testing Windows To Go, I found that both boot and overall speed were far superior to any Linux live distribution I have ever tested.

4. The Metro UI

The basic idea for the Metro UI appeared in Media Center and Zune hardware more than 5 years ago. When you use the Metro UI for the first time, you'll see that it's a very unique way of working with a device. But Microsoft didn't pioneer the idea.

Various Linux distros, such as Ubuntu, and the GNOME desktop environment, have tried to overhaul the user interface to fit the "one UI to rule them all" approach before Microsoft did. There's no denying that updates to the UI of Linux, especially Ubuntu, were made specifically with tablets in mind. But even the most ardent Linux users admit that touch support could by no means be called anything other than half-baked.

The Microsoft twist: Microsoft is taking a very risky step in making the new Metro UI the default view of the new OS, but it's also much more comfortable to use either with touch or a pen.

5. Social integration

Linux distributions -- notably Ubuntu -- have, for a long time now, included social media integration by default. The "Me" menu, which first appeared in early alpha versions of Ubuntu 10.04, allows you to update your status to all your accounts and get important feeds directly to your desktop. And when Microsoft finally added its Tweet@Rama, Photo Picker and Socialite app to the developer preview, loyal Linux users again pointed out that this has been done before.

The Microsoft twist: No twist here. Microsoft was simply late to catch on to the trend.

6. Native support for USB 3.0

In their very first blog post, the Building 8 folks explained their new native USB 3.0 stack and, of course, that news was greeted with comments of the "Linux has been doing that for three years" variety.


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