One of the single biggest successes of Microsoft’s long and storied existence was the launching and sales volume of Windows 7. According to recent figures, the number of copies of Windows 7 has long since exceeded the 400 million mark. That means, when you boil that number down to an average, there have been approximately seven copies of Windows sold every second!

As the release date for Windows 8 approaches, currently slated for October 26th, many people, both end users and professionals alike, are anxiously waiting and wondering if this Windows version will parrot the success that Microsoft found with Windows 7, or suffer the inglorious failure of Windows Vista.

One of the most obvious ways to more accurately predict which way the launch will go is by comparing the differences that have been made known that will separate it from Windows 7. Since Windows 7 was such a resounding success, it will easily serve as a benchmark for this type of a comparison. Following are some of the most popular features that will be introduced in Windows 8 and how they compare to what what currently exists in Windows 7.

The Interface

It is virtually impossible to compile a list of this type without the basic interface either topping it or landing somewhere near the top. In Windows 7 we found many of the basic features that were found in previous versions that had been released. One of the most common features of the Windows family is the Start button, found in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Another hallmark of Windows has always been the various icons that were arranged around the screen and usually double-clicked on in order to launch the corresponding program.

With Windows 8′s new Metro interface, both of these features have been removed and replaced. In their stead, “live” tiles will be placed around the screen, which can be customized according to the user’s preference. These tiles will be able to continuously update and reflect new information pertaining to the programs that they represent. This type of interface bears a striking resemblance to what you will find on mobile devices running the Windows OS.

Touchscreen Support

Following up on the observation made in the previous sentence, Microsoft has taken a different direction than what was found in Windows 7. Windows 8 is obviously geared quite a bit towards touchscreen devices. While the tiles that now make up the interface can not be interacted with in this way when using a normal desktop monitor or laptop, they can be if it is installed on a mobile device. In addition to these tiles, there is also a Charms bar located by default on the right side of the screen. This bar is also accessible by touch and provides access to many system-related features and installed apps.

Task Manager

Another noteworthy difference between Windows 7 and 8 is the Task Manager. Windows 7 is apparently the last version that will use the classic version of this handy section of the OS. The new Task Manager seems to be much simpler and end user friendly, showing only the tasks and processes that are currently running. Any of these items can be killed with the click of the button, thus freeing up system resources. There are also more advanced features for professionals that can be accessed by clicking on More Details.

ARM Support

Another obvious nod to Microsoft’s clear concentration on mobile devices in their design of Windows 8 is a version that is dedicated solely to ARM processor based machines. No matter which of the six versions of Windows 7 you may have purchased, the architecture supported only x86 based machines, such as desktops and laptops. Many of today’s mobile device are based on a completely different hardware platform called ARM, or Advanced RISC Machines. With Windows 8, Microsoft has designed a completely separate version that will be compatible with ARM-based mobile devices.

As you can see, the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 8 are quite noticeable, perhaps more so than what you may have found in a comparison between any of its previous incarnations. How people will respond to all of these changes is mere speculation at this point and will be interesting to watch after its release date arrives.