Every time Windows updates or makes changes to its operating system, many things have stayed the same. Each new OS was different, but its looked and felt familiar. Not so for Windows 8. This operating system is vastly different in terms of layout and navigation.

Windows 8 is taking on a new and more personalized approach by providing its users with instant access to the most essential applications. And, instead of the original desktop layout, Windows 8 relies on tiles. In other words, Windows 8 something completely different from what we've come to expect in a Microsoft operating system, which could make upgrading a lot more eventful for users. Here are five things you should know if you plan to make the switch.

1. Windows 8 Is Personal

The Windows 8 layout is fairly similar to the layout of the Windows Mobile OS. But the tiles that are often presented as the hallmark of Windows 8 are more than just for aesthetics; each tile is customizable, offering any one or all of the following supported applications: social networking/media, photo or video transfers, email, calendaring, travel, sports updates, and much more. These tiles are used to connect each individual user to his or her favorite apps, producing a more personal relationship between users and their devices. So, unlike in other operating systems, Windows 8 gives users more control over how the UI is managed and arranged.

2. Windows 8 Is Cloud Enabled

The upgraded Windows 8 OS is a cloud enabled Hyper-V virtual machine program. Hyper-V uses a virtual network switch that the host computer uses for all network communications to the local area network (LAN) and the Internet. Windows 8 also uses the SkyDrive app, which lets users access files from virtually any location. (Unsure of how cloud computing might be useful to you? Check out Cloud Computing: What It Means to You.)

3. Windows 8 Has More Apps Than Ever

Probably one of the most noticeable changes in Windows 8 is the use of tiles and their connection to the operating system's built-in applications. The apps are designed to assist with the needs of an average user, like calendaring, email, messaging, sharing photos and social networking. The apps are also designed for those with a very busy and fast paced life style. The apps can be used (much like apps are used on smartphones) to stay up-to-date on sports, news, travel, music and even gaming.

4. Windows 8 Is Built for Both Personal and Business Use

It has become much more common for people to interchangeably use technology in the workplace and at home. In fact, the ability to access and perform work virtually is becoming less of a commodity and more of a necessity. With Windows 8's enhanced end-to-end security, users can connect to work files and personal files from the same device at any given time - and from almost any location.

Windows 8 connects users using built-in 3G and 4G support, which makes connecting to a cellular network just as easy as connecting to wireless network. A USB Flash drive or hard drive can even be used to boot up any device with a portable copy of Windows 8, allowing users to protect themselves from accessing or modifying any documents or folders that are on the internal hard drive(s) of their work computer and/or device.

5. Windows 8 Works on More Forms of Hardware

Windows 8 offers the same experience and feel across all forms of hardware, from laptops to tablets and everything in between. Whether using a keyboard or a touch screen, Windows users can access their data however they want and wherever they want. Users can feel confident knowing that their customized desktop layout will be the same no matter what device is being used.

Another great hardware feature that comes along with Windows 8 is its ability to share and sync between devices. All Windows 8 apps support near-field communications (NFC) and direct proximity. NFC and proximity are used to initiate and maintain a connection between two devices or computers without using Wi-Fi. Information is shared through a connection created when two devices are in close proximity. Windows 8 also introduces the "Tap and Setup" feature, which allow users to wirelessly connect a variety of devices including speakers, headphones, mice, keyboards and more.

And, finally, one bonus item for good measure:

6. Windows 8 Offers Some Reprieve for Those Who Loved the Old Windows

The Windows 8 layout will definitely be an adjustment for Windows users. Fortunately, Windows 8 allows users to choose whether they want to try out the new layout or stick to the familiarity of the legacy desktop.

Windows 8 - Love It or Leave It

If you aren't ready to make the switch to Window 8, you can probably hang on to your old operating system for a while - but not forever. Most experts say this is the last we'll see of Microsoft's old Start menu and other familiar features that were considered the core of Windows. Windows 8 may not be perfect, but Windows users will have to get used to it sooner or later.