Microsoft demos Windows 8.1: here’s what you need to know

Windows 8.1 has been in the talks for quite a while, majorly due to the return of the ‘Start’ button on the desktop. Today, Microsoft talked about the changes coming to Windows 8.1 at Build 2013 including key updates regarding the Interface, Search and Windows Apps. This is going to be the biggest Windows update released by Microsoft for any operating system.

Windows 8.1 Demo at Build 2013 _1

Introducing Window 8.1 Preview at Build 2013

Microsoft showcased many enhancements for developers in San Francisco at their Build 2013 event. Along with the introduction and demo of Windows 8.1 Preview, the company also revealed a couple of Windows 8 devices including the newly released Samsung ATIV Book 9. A new version of Visual Studio is also announced with the support to integrate Microsoft’s cloud service to any mobile app. Lastly, the company also revealed a few changes in Windows phones along with some new models by HTC and Samsung were also spotted at the event.


Lets start with the changes made to the interface in Windows 8.1. Most of the changes are noticeable right from the start, Microsoft has made your Start Screen much more customizable than before. Users can adjust the size of the live titles, make them bigger to display more information or decrease their size in order to make the Start screen look more sleek and clean. Live Wallpapers and user Background options have been added to the Start screen as well which allows users to put their own touch to it.

Windows 8.1 First Look at Build 2013 _2

Microsoft has embedded an option to boot directly to Desktop without the interference of the Start Screen. Additional features have been added to the Lock screen as well, such as accessing the Camera App directly, accepting a Skype Call or run a slideshow of images which can be accessed through SkyDrive or Local Drives.

The ‘Start’ button is back

Ever since the release of Windows 8, users have always complained about the missing ‘Start’ button numerous times. Microsoft has made a habit of listening to its customer and is bringing back the ‘Start’ button in Windows 8.1. Although, its back but its function is not much influential as it always in earlier versions of Windows. Users can add Restart and Shutdown options in the ‘Start’ menu but clicking on the button does take you to the ‘Start’ screen.

Windows 8 Preview

Better side-by-side app support

Microsoft enabled users to put two apps on screen in metro mode with Windows 8. However, the implementation was rather limited as you could put only two apps on the screen at one time and that too in an odd 25 to 75 ratio. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has advanced largely in this matter. You can now put more than two apps on a single screen and you can you also adjust their ratio.

Windows 8.1


Search has gotten considerably better

Microsoft has vastly improved how the search works in Windows 8.1. With the new version, you can start writing your query on the start screen and it’ll begin showing up related apps, settings, recent queries and results from the web. Bing is now being used under the hood to power the search function.

Furthermore, if you write a popular term like a singer’s name then the search function will take you to a new page with a lot of information about that singer like pictures, music videos, Wikipedia page and more.

Windows 8.1

Better apps

Along with all the OS level changes, Microsoft has also improved their stock apps like Mail, Internet Explorer, Xbox music and others. Most of the UIs have been redesigned to make them more interactive and production.

All in all, the Windows 8.1 is a solid upgrade over the last year Windows 8. The preview of Windows 8.1 can be now downloaded for free from Microsoft’s website.

Source: The Verge


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