Microsoft has provided in its blog more information about Windows 8.1. Previously known as Windows Blue, this major update aims to refine the interface to make it more convenient for users. Let us take you on a quick look on its new and helpful features.
One of the more prominent changes that are coming in Windows 8.1 is the ability to do more customizations in the appearance of the operating system. For instance, users can turn their Lock Screens into a slide show of pictures, which are retrieved either locally or from SkyDrive, instead of just static images. Besides more colors and choices, the Start screen background can also be set to mimic your desktop’s background.
App tiles now have two more sizes to choose from, besides the standard rectangle and square sizes. Newly-installed apps don’t also get placed in the Start screen automatically anymore, but are marked as “new” in the All Apps view and it’s up to the users if they’d like to pin them to the Start screen. Users are also found to accidentally rearrange tiles on their Start screen on a frequent basis. But with the new update, users must press and hold (or right click) in order to move app tiles.
Whereas the scope of the old Search is only limited within the device’s apps, files, and settings, its upgraded version is powered by Bing to also cover aggregated content from the web. It also suggests common actions such as playing a video or music.
Improved built-in apps and Windows Store
Several native Windows 8 apps went some UI overhaul. Instead of just the basic rotate, crop, and view options, the Photos app now have more editing features. Other apps such as Music and Camera have undergone redesigns as well. Multitasking between apps also gets better: up to three modern apps on each screen can be displayed for systems that have multiple monitors.
New features to enjoy in the Windows Store are better app discovery, addition of useful descriptions, and automatic app updates.
Complete modern-style PC settings
Considered to be an annoyance, some settings aren’t found in the modern PC settings options, forcing users to go to the Control Panel on the desktop. But in Windows 8.1, every setting can now be accessed in the modern interface.
Internet Explorer 11
The latest version of Microsoft’s popular browser is expected to arrive in Windows 8.1. Most of the changes cover the basic stuff, such as faster loading times and better touch performance. IE11 also allows as many open tabs that you desire and the address bar to be in permanent view. More importantly, any open tabs are synchronized across all of the user’s connected Windows 8.1 devices.
Enhanced mouse and keyboard options
The Start button is back on the desktop taskbar, providing a more obvious way to go to the Start screen. It’s also now possible to boot directly into desktop and other alternate screens in your computer.
Windows 8.1 Availability
Windows 8.1 is scheduled for release later this year, although anyone who wants to check out the improvements before that time will be able to do so via the preview version. The latter is expected to be available during Microsoft’s Build developer conference in June.