Microsoft details Windows 8.1 update with new apps, Start button, IE11 and more
Windows 8.1 almost complete redesigns the operating system for Microsoft users. Adding a wide-array of new features, tweaks, improvements and settings that many users and have been asking for since the launch of the original Windows 8 system.
In a prepared presentation Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President of Windows Program Management, detailed the many changes to Windows 8 with the free upgrade, some of them subtle and some of them quite impressive.
It has been seven months since Microsoft launched Window 8 and Windows 8.1 is ready to deliver the OS that many people had hoped it would be in the beginning. Leblond states, “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,” adding, “Windows 8.1 will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas like personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity.”
Leblond divided the changes into several major categories (Personalization, Search, Apps and Windows Store, Cloud Connectivity, PC Settings, Internet Explorer and Mouse and Keyboard Option). There will be a vast improvements to the way that you can customize your start screen, allowing users to change options like allowing users to change their “PC or tablet into a picture frame by making your Lock screen a slide show of your pictures – either locally on the device or photos from the cloud in SkyDrive” stated Leblond. Windows 8.1 will also add the ability to “take pictures with the built-in camera right from the Lock screen without having to log in”. There will also be the option to add colors and backgrounds for the Start screen “including ones with motion”. Windows 8.1 will allow you to change your desktop background as your Start screen background, “creating a greater sense of unity and familiarity”. The Start screen in Windows 8.1 will also increase the tile sizes “including a new large and new small tile, so you can organize your Start screen exactly the way you want it”. Users can name groups and rearrange tiles as well after the update. Controlling your apps from the Start screen will be easier as well, including the ability to “select multiple apps all at once, resize them, uninstall them, or rearrange them”. Customers can also view all apps “just by swiping from the bottom to view all apps”, and you can filter out applications by (name, date installed, most used, or by category). Now when you install a new app from the Windows Store, “we no longer put that app on your Start screen. Instead, you’ll find these apps under apps view as mentioned above and marked as “new” where you can choose to pin the apps you want to your Start screen” stated Leblond.
As for searching your computer things will be a lot more inline with previous versions. Windows 8.1 will allow the Search charm to “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”. Leblond suggested that this will be like an advanced “command line” function.
The Microsoft Store and the applications that it will offer will go under some much changes as well including “improving all our built in apps that come with Windows 8 for Windows 8.1”. The example given was, “the Photos app now has some new editing features that lets you quickly edit or adjust photos when you view them in the Photos app or open them from other places like the Mail, SkyDrive, and Camera apps”. In the same theme, the Music app “has been completely redesigned to help pick and play music from your collection”. Microsoft promises to talk about future apps that are on their way in the near future.
Also changing in applications are modifications to using multiple apps, like the ability to “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 a multiple displays connected.” You can also “have different Windows Store apps running on all the displays at the same time and the Start Screen can stay open on one monitor.” In the future you will also be able to snap two of the same applications, like two internet explorer windows. In the new Windows store, “App updates install automatically in the background as well as they come through the Store. And search is available in the upper right hand corner for finding the apps you want”.
Skydrive integration is also a bing push for Microsoft. In Windows 8.1 “your files can be saved directly to SkyDrive, so you can always have your files with you”. With the new SkyDrive app you can have access to your files that are on your device or in the cloud, “and files are accessible even when offline.”
After the Windows 8.1 update users “can do things like change your display resolution, set power options, see the make and model of my PC, change the product key, let me do Windows Update, and even join a domain – all from PC Settings”. You will also be able to manage SkyDrive from PC Settings as well to see how much available storage you have.
Microsoft is also launching Internet Explorer 11 (IE11). “IE11 builds on the advancements in IE10 and is the only browser that is built for touch. IE11 will offer even better touch performance, faster page load times and several other new features we think you will enjoy.” An example given was the ability to adjust the appearance of modern IE11 “to always show the address bar and you can have as many open tabs as you like. And you can access your open tabs in sync across your other Windows 8.1 devices”.
One of the larger problems people had with Windows 8 is that it was made for touch-devices, which left a lot of people in the dark. Microsoft stated that “we’ve focused on a number of improvements to ensure easier navigation for people using a mouse and keyboard”. To do this Microsoft added the Start “tip” to be the familiar Windows logo. The new tip “appears anytime you move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen, and is always visible on the taskbar when on the desktop”. There will also be options “to change what the corners do, and options to boot into alternate screens”.
Microsoft stated that beginning June 26th, Windows 8.1 will be released. At Build, “we’ll also be sharing more about Windows Embedded, which will be updated in the same timeframe as Windows 8.1” stated Leblond.
more info: microsoft