CompTIA A+ Exam 220-902 sub-objective 1.1: Compare and contrast various features and requirements of Microsoft Operating Systems (Part 2/2)

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Detailed (and official) description of CompTIA A+ sub-objective 1.1:

1.1 Compare and contrast various features and requirements of Microsoft Operating Systems (Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1)

– Side by side apps, Metro UI, Pinning, One Drive, Windows store, Multimonitor task bars, Charms, Start Screen, Power Shell, Live sign in, Action Center.
> Upgrade paths – differences between in place upgrades, compatibility tools, Windows upgrade OS advisor.

Welcome to A+ ExamNotes by CertBlaster! In this second session we’ll pick up the remainder of A+ 220-902 sub-objective 1.1 (for session 1 click here).  You’ll find the second half here to be a little more user centric meaning it’s more aimed at the user experience and look and feel than utilities. We’ll start out with side by side Apps.

Side by side apps and Category view

These enhancements allow you to easily put two documents or applications side by side equally sharing the display area. If you move the title bar of a window all the way to the left you will see the window snap into position to take up the left side of the screen and the same happens on the right, when you’re finished both items share the screen equally with no overlap. Very useful for comparing items. Here we have displayed the Control Panel side by side showing the left in Icon view and the right in Category view. Same contents totally different look.

Screenshots of Side by side and Category views in Windows 8 & Windows 8.1
Side by side and Category views in Windows 8 & Windows 8.1

Displaying content this way allows for a higher level of scrutiny and allows the look and feel of content to be compared.

Metro UI

Next on our list is the infamous Metro User Interface. Available as a standard feature in Windows 8 and 8.1, and an add-on in later versions, clicking Start will toggle you back to the Metro UI Start Screen, shown below. This live tile based interface allows you to pin items to the start screen and the small down arrow at the lower left will display all programs alphabetically. This interface type is desirable to those operating on a tablet or devices lacking a physical mouse and keyboard or a tablet friendly live tile based Metro interface shown here.

Screenshot of Metro User Interface in Windows 8 & 8.1
Metro User Interface – Windows 8 & 8.1

Clicking Start again will display the traditional Desktop appearance:

Screenshot of Windows 8 desktop
Windows 8 desktop

Charms Bar

Another Metro UI feature is the Charms bar. Charms are shortcuts to other features like Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. The bar is available from any part of the system. It is available from the desktop or from an application. You can bring it up by hovering your mouse at the top or bottom right corners of the display. Also the keystroke Win+C will bring it up or just swiping your finger inward from the right side of the screen on touch screens. The Charms are shown below hovering over the right side of the display.

Screenshot of Windows 8 Charms
Windows 8 Charms

When activated you can use one of the five available Charms to Search in the current location, Share by sending your current screen or web page via email to a friend or colleague. The Start logo serves the same purpose as the taskbar icon switching you between interface types. The Devices icon allows you to send a screenshot of your current display to another device like a printer or another desktop or your phone if connected. The Settings Charm is probably the most useful in that it gives you quick access to six of the high level functions like your network settings Wi-Fi or LAN, Notifications, Power, and more but if you need a deeper level of control Click Change PC Settings and you’ll see a truncated version of the Control Panel that provides access to frequently used settings.

One Drive

Thi is Microsoft’s Cloud Storage solution. It is integrated into the operating system and can be seamlessly accessed when using Live sign-In.

Screenshot of OneDrive in Windows
Windows OneDrive

Otherwise it is accessed with a username and password. Allowing you to access and share content wherever you are. It is a good way to synch and share files and photos as well as office documents and related work content. Once configured your work and personal data will manually or automatically be backed up to the Cloud.

Windows Store or the Microsoft Store

The store allows users of mobile devices and desktops to use and share the same applications and content like movies or music.

Screenshot of Windows Store
Windows Store

Once purchased the content is available by user login and need not be purchased twice. Many items are free including windows tweaks and toys along with business productivity enhancements. There is a limit of 10 installs per purchase.

Multiple monitors

Multiple monitors are supported in all current versions of Windows. Windows 8 and above allow the taskbar to span across all active displays.

Screenshot of Windows screen orientation & resolution pop-up
Screen orientation & resolution

From the main display you can extend the display across the monitors, you can duplicate the display on each device which is great for presentations, or finally display on only one display or the other.


The Windows PowerShell, a combination of Windows PowerShell and along with PowerShell Core is a configuration management and task automation framework.

Screenshot of powershell

It uses scripting language based on the .NET framework and accomplishes tasks and frequently used administrative functions including registry management and control of services using Cmdlets to perform task based scripting in the WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) language.

Action Center

The Action Center is a Windows utility that enables control of Security and Maintenance on a Windows Machine. Importantly it provides messages about potential system problems when minimized. Opening the Action Center provides the user with control over the frequently used Security Settings and the color coded severity level of the current setting. Included are an interactive list of items to be checked to enhance security. The Action Center also includes a Maintenance section where your update status, backup settings and status

Upgrade Paths

When we talk about Operating System Upgrades here we are mainly concerned with the type of installation. The details of the individual Operating systems and versions will be addressed next. Here we will discuss which type of installation would be necessary to produce the desired result and how to find out if your hardware platform will support the software.


First we’ll look at the architecture referring to the bus width of the processor. You have two choices here 32-bit and 64-bit. You may find that some software does not have a 64-bit version. If you have a significant amount of resources dedicated to that software then your choice has been made for you. If not consider below tables that list the system requrements and maximum memory possible for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Notice how much more memory the 64-bit versions of each Operating System require, quite a bit in most cases. Here is Windows 7…

Screenshot of table showing Maximum memory supported by Windows 7
Maximum memory supported by Windows 7

…and here is Windows 8…

Screenshot of table showing Maximum memory supported by Windows 8
Maximum memory supported by Windows 8

When determining which version of the operating system to run it is highly advisable to run the Upgrade Assistant for Windows 8.1 or the Upgrade Advisor for Windows 7 versions, either from the installation DVD.  Online go to the Windows Compatibility Center online and Scan your system. If there are devices or programs that are incompatible you will have the opportunity to look for drivers or patches beforehand. If you have an incompatible device or program it is best to remove or uninstall it to avoid corrupting the installation.

When upgrading your operating system you have three main choices for installation:

1) Clean Install

This method is used when you intend to overwrite everything on the hard drive and start fresh. You can format the hard drive and erase all traces of the old system. This is good if your old system was giving you problems. The Compatibility Center is a crucial element of this process. Because once you format the hard drive everything’s gone.

2) In-Place Upgrade

Use the In-Place Upgrade method if you have a machine that is running well and want to upgrade the Operating system. This method retains your data and programs. Again the compatibility Center is an essential element in keeping your system drivers current.

3) Multiboot

To create a multiboot system you must first have a partition available for each OS you intend to install. Windows Vista, Windows 7 and windows 8.1 each require their own dedicated partition. There is no sharing of space on the operating system drives. Once installed you can have a completely functional version of each installed system. A reboot is required to change from Windows 7 for example to Windows 8.

It is important to know the upgrade path you wish to use as some are not possible. If you are currently running Windows XP or Vista it is not possible to upgrade to Windows 8.1. If you have a Windows 7 version you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1 of the same general level.

Enterprise edition to Enterprise edition or Pro to Pro will always work. Reference is to OS upgrades Windows Vista to 7, or 7 to 8, 7 to 10. The edition levels are charged based on features. Home or Starter being the lowest. So you couldn’t bump that up from Vista Home Edition to say Windows 8.1 Pro.

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That’s it for A+ 220-902 sub-objective 1.1! Good luck on the test!

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