PC users have been speculating on the features that might be offered by Windows 8 for some time. However, thanks to Microsoft planning documents shared with HP and other OEM partners that were leaked online recently, we've been to take a wholly unexpected sneak peak at Windows 8.

See also: Microsoft Windows 8 review

Microsoft only released Windows 7 last year, but it hasn't stopped PC users speculating on what the next OS, Windows 8, will offer.

Luckily for the public, Microsoft planning documents shared with HP and other OEM partners were leaked recently, providing a wholly unexpected Windows 8 sneak preview.

Thanks to Win7Vista.com, I was able to download the documents, consisting of more than 15 confidential slides Microsoft has shared with partners in the last few months.

Some of the details are sparse, and Microsoft's plans are likely to change significantly between now and the actual release of Windows 8. But, based on Microsoft's current planning, here's a look at 8 amazing things you'll be able to do with Windows 8:

Log in to your PC with your face, instead of a password

By 2012 sensors such as microphones, cameras, GPS, accelerometers, and temperature and magnetic sensors will be common in most PCs, allowing Windows 8 to interact with the user's environment in new and interesting ways.

One scenario uses facial recognition software to verify a user's identity.

"Amish walks into his home office," Microsoft writes in one of many fictional scenarios outlined in the Windows 8 slide.

"The proximity sensor on his PC detects motion, and wakes the PC. By the time Amish sits down, his PC is powered up. It scans his face and logs him in. Finally, when Amish gets up and leaves, his PC notices that he's gone and locks itself and powers down."

Windows 8 may also eliminate the need for remembering passwords across multiple websites.

"Password pain has reached a tipping point," Microsoft says.

"Windows 8 could include a way to securely store usernames and passwords, simplifying the online experience"

Make Windows 8 follow you across devices

Microsoft wants to make your Windows identity user-centric, rather than machine-centric, meaning your settings and preferences would roam with you as you move from a desktop to a laptop, and to smaller devices like slate machines (read: a Windows 8 version of Apple's iPad).

"Windows accounts could be connected to cloud to make it easy to roam settings and preferences," Microsoft says.

Users of tomorrow may have a laptop for productivity applications, writing e-mail and organising photos, movies and music, and a slate optimised for web and media consumption, causal gaming, IM and social networking, and reading and sorting email. With the same Windows 8 login across devices, a user might start a game on one machine and then finish it on another.

Importantly, the software licence will roam with a user, Microsoft says in one slide.

  1. Log-in with your face
  2. Pad–like touchscreens
  3. Keeping data safe

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