Check out the Windows 8.1 features

Windows 8.1 is being released on Oct. 18th and we thought it was time to take a look at exactly what features will be added or changed by Microsoft in response to the public feedback over the last year.

 

For people who don’t own Windows 8, the first thing on their minds is how to get 8.1 if you haven’t already taken the Windows 8 plunge.  It is true that 8.1 is an upgrade to Windows 8… but you don’t have to buy both.  Microsoft announced that when you purchase a copy of 8.1 for their $199 price, you get a full version of OS.  (If you are already using Windows 8, the upgrade is free.)

 

For those who are already using Windows 8, the biggest feature to make a comeback is the Start Button.  Granted, it is an updated version of the Start Button rather than the traditional one.  This time it will go to the Start Screen rather than the Start Menu. Now there is more integration between the desktop and Start Screen than before, which should cut down on the jarring differences between the two.

 

Customizing the tiles on the Start Screen will take a bit of getting used to, but the interface is more consistent and easier to learn.  Further, Microsoft has changed the Settings options to clarify the control panel view to a simple and clean interface that users should love.

 

Users can also choose to boot to the desktop view instead of the Start Screen.  This particular feature has been getting positive reviews on the blogosphere from Microsoft developers and fans.

 

Here are some bullet of other features we think you will like:

  • Start Screen will have an expanded color pallet and background options (including some with motion).  However, that “shock screen” of garish colors will still be available if that is your style.
  • Start Screen will now have a wide variety of tile sizes to allow more personalization.  Further, Microsoft has made it easier to name groups and rearrange tiles by simplifying the process of selecting and moving tiles.
  • Start Screen has been modified to scale better depending on the size of the device.  Microsoft claims users will experience effective use of the Start Screen on devices as small as an 8” tablet up to a 27” monitor.
  • The Lock Screen will now be able to become a slideshow of pictures.
  • The desktop will now have a search function of its own instead of throwing you over to the Start Screen.  Further, Microsoft is leveraging Bing into an aggregated search function… instead of having to select an app and then search, Bing will now search the web, your files, OneDrive and elsewhere.
  • There will be new enhance apps that are coming in as built-in offerings such as music, movies, and food to name a few.  Even the included Photo app has enhancements allowing you to edit and adjust photos while viewing them from other places like Mail, OneDrive, etc.
  • Microsoft will be rolling out an enhanced Windows Store that has a new look and an easier time finding new apps.  And featured apps at the front of the store will now be presented through a carousel like view that allows you to flip through large images and descriptions.
  • Saving directly to OneDrive will now available.  That it will be completely integrated into the OS
  • A new Internet Explorer is being offered in which you will be able to adjust the appearance and have an unlimited number of tabs open.  You will even be able to access these tabs in sync across other Windows 8.1 devices.
  • Windows Explorer will now only show the Documents and Pictures folders from your OneDrive.  This change is to save on storage space on tablets and other mobile devices, but don’t panic… you can still access all your other files.  When you click on a file, Windows 8.1 will automatically pull it down from OneDrive and cache it offline and syncs changes to it.  This will take some time for users to adjust to, but will allow for mobility of data while enabling smaller and more portable devices.
  • Windows 8.1 has also been updated to work much better with a mouse and keyboard than the Win8 version.  Microsoft understands that today’s tech is moving to mobile and touch, but many people still want the option to use the traditional mouse/keyboard combo.

 

This is only skimming the surface of many of the changes that you will find in the new 8.1 software being released in a couple weeks.  Some of these are direct responses to the public feedback to Win8, and some are simply Microsoft’s belief of what the end user needs.

 

For a comprehensive review of what the different 8.1 editions are going to offer for your device, check out Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Comparison Chart.