Windows 8.1 is here, and the Start button is back among many other improvements

Windows 8.1 is here, and the Start button is back among many other improvements
After days of leaks, Microsoft has officially unveiled Windows 8.1, the first major update for its unpopular Windows 8 operating system.

Says the software giant: "Windows 8.1 will advance the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of PCs, tablets, and a range of industry devices, and the experiences customers -- both consumers and businesses alike -- need and will just expect moving forward. It's Windows 8 even better.

Not only will Windows 8.1 respond to customer feedback, but it will add new features and functionality that advance the touch experience and mobile computing's potential. Windows 8.1 will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas like personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity. Windows 8.1 will also include big bets for business in areas such as management and security."

The company unveiled a number of improvements, all of which should be welcomed by disgruntled Windows 8 users.

First, the company has added more colors and backgrounds for the Start screen, including a few with motion. A "live wallpaper" as Android fans know. Additionally, you can turn the lock screen into a slideshow of pictures from your local device or from the cloud. If you have a camera (most do), you can also take pictures right from the lock screen without needing to fully login. Additionally, on the "personalization" front, tile sizing has been updated with a new large and a new small tile, for better organization. Another good upgrade is the ability to select multiple apps at once, and tile will only move now if you press and hold.

Finally, if you install a new app, it is no longer added to the Start screen by Microsoft. You can choose to pin it if you like.

Search has been improved, Microsoft says, and the "Search charm will provide global search results powered by Bing in a rich, simple-to-read, aggregated view of many content sources (the web, apps, files, SkyDrive, actions you can take) to provide the best "answer" for your query. We think this will really change the way you interact with the Web and with windows making it quicker and easier to get things done. It is the modern version of the command line!"

All built-in apps will be improved, says the company, and that includes the Photos app, Mail, SkyDrive and Camera and Music. More importantly, Microsoft says it is making improvements for using multiple apps (multitasking) at the same time:

"Windows 8.1 brings variable, continuous size of snap views. You will have more ways to see multiple apps on the screen at the same time. You can resize apps to any size you want, share the screen between two apps, or have up to three apps on each screen if you have multiple displays connected, you can have different Windows Store apps running on all the displays at the same time and the Start Screen can stay open on one monitor. This makes multi-tasking even easier. Also in Windows 8.1, you can have multiple windows of the same app snapped together such as two Internet Explorer windows." (Check attached screenshot)

As expected, the Windows Store will also be getting a makeover, showing more info and more detailed lists. App updates will install automatically in the background, as well.

While those updates were nice and all, the big ones Microsoft left for last. The Start button has been returned, allowing you to browse your programs right from the desktop rather than searching or pinning. Additionally, "the updated PC Settings in Windows 8.1 gives you access to all your settings on your device without having to go to the Control Panel on the desktop. You can do things like change your display resolution, set your power options, see the make and model of your PC, change the product key, let you run Windows Update, and even join a domain all from PC Settings. You can even manage SkyDrive from PC Settings as well and see how much available storage you have (and buy more if needed)."

More keyboards and mice will be supported, a huge improvement since Microsoft had assumed everyone would have a touch screen device by now. They don't. Finally, Internet Explorer 11 will come native, adding subtle improvements to the browser, which was once left for dead.

The update is set for release later this year, and will be a free upgrade for all Windows 8 users.

Written by: Andre Yoskowitz @ 30 May 2013 20:07
operating system Microsoft Windows 8.1
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  • Jemborg

    Who da thunk it??


    People forget how crappy XP was until SP2.

    Its a lot easier being righteous than right.

    31.5.2013 04:09 #1

  • zxe

    I read that the start button will not act like the old start button, but point you to the metro menu,hence it was a fudge. Next you can get it to boot to desktop..that would have been all of 5 minutes programing time to do. At with free app that put the start button up and lets you get to the desktop, they could have used that code

    The rest is all waffle. If they would only have had two options on build, 1. build with tiles and touch, 2 build for mouse and desktop.

    31.5.2013 05:28 #2

  • Ryoohki

    Hopefully none of these new improvements will screw with classic shell. I wonder will they make it so you can turn the god damn charms bar off. It still pops up whenever the hell it wants to and not when you approach the right corners. Anywhere from the center of the screen to the right it can pop up on you. Annoying as hell.

    31.5.2013 09:13 #3

  • megadunderhead

    Actually there is no start menu from what i have read here in washington state where microsoft is located the start menu will not be returned to the windows 8 system so this update is worthless still i want the classic start menu none of this metro ui garbage

    31.5.2013 11:44 #4

  • ThePastor

    Lipstick on a pig

    Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

    31.5.2013 15:03 #5

  • LordRuss

    Originally posted by ThePastor: Lipstick on a pig Right behind you Pastor, right behind you.

    2.6.2013 15:23 #6

  • aldan

    not near enough lipstick in the world to disguise this

    2.6.2013 17:18 #7

  • johnjjd

    A start button is back, but not the Start Menu from Win7 with all its functions. Basically nothing has changed here and MS is just insulting its customers with this ruse.

    8.6.2013 15:28 #8

  • robertmro

    How come they didn't change the name the way they did with Vista?

    8.6.2013 15:44 #9

  • six60six

    i've been using start8. it boots to desktop and adds a start button/menu. you can even make a custom start button. best $4.99 i've spent in awhile.

    8.6.2013 19:17 #10

  • ScrewBot

    But those responsible must pay.
    Will the marketing-designers of Win 8.0 be publicly crucified?
    Only then will we know that Microsoft is serious.

    8.6.2013 20:27 #11

  • Mr-Movies

    I don't get it with Classic shell users, why? Just stay with XP if you don't want the new feel of an OS. Now with that said Windows 8 is crap and unless they brought back more control with the new Start button it won't really matter. Plus I can always add Stardock gadgets to make it work like Windows 7 & Mac feel. Of course it's tons of screwing around to just get back to a Windows 7 feel but if it was forced on me that's what I do.

    8.6.2013 20:28 #12

  • pmshah

    I don';t know why people are complaining about this. Since I do a lot of testing to familiarize myself with the OS I have Win 8 starting up with Win 7 style desktop, start menu, system tray and what have you.

    9.6.2013 03:09 #13

  • blaize

    Just use classic start menu, boots to desktop and offers the classic start menu all for free.

    9.6.2013 06:21 #14

  • Nosredneh

    Ok, Now the plot thickens. Sure Windows 8 had a few new things but it mostly was like scrambled eggs with the yoke lift out and pig fat substituted. You had to slide to far to get to were you wished and falling down at the end of the slide caused even more confusion. Maybe 8.1 will returned some user friendly features.

    9.6.2013 11:50 #15

  • Jemborg

    Originally posted by six60six: i've been using start8. it boots to desktop and adds a start button/menu. you can even make a custom start button. best $4.99 i've spent in awhile. Do you recommend it over Classic Shell... why?

    Its a lot easier being righteous than right.

    9.6.2013 21:08 #16

  • Nosredneh

    It isn't just the start button but why buy an OS and have to pay $4.99 just to add one feature when many more feature are missing and wanted.

    5.7.2013 14:00 #17

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