Windows 8.1 Preview: Microsoft Improves the Desktop 

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Windows 8 marked a fundamental shift in Microsoft’s desktop operating system strategy. It is the largest visual change to windows since Windows 95 almost 20 years ago. Perhaps the most controversial change was the removal of the iconic Start Button, in favour of the new Start Screen. Windows 8.1 is scheduled to release on October 17th of this year.

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New Features

Windows 8.1 (formally known as Windows Blue) marks a shift in Microsoft’s desktop strategy. Instead of releasing operating with major changes ever few years, they are moving to an annual update system, with incremental updates each time. Let’s look at what Windows 8.1 brings:


1. The Start Button Returns

The Start Button Disappeared in Windows 8, much to the woe of many users. Due to overwhelming customer demand, it is back in Windows 8.1, although it open the Start Screen rather then opening up a Start Button menu.

StartButton


2. Boot to Desktop

Windows 8.1 will allow for users to boot directly to the desktop, rather then the Start Screen.

win81desktop


3. Different Tile Sizes on Start Screen

Microsoft is giving users more customizability of the Start Screen, allowing for custom tile sizes, as seen in the Windows Phone 8 upgrade.

win81resizetile


4. Improved Core Applications

Mail, Calendar, Store, Photos, Camera, SkyDrive, Maps, and Xbox Music are all seeing enhancements. Internet Explorer is getting updated to version 11 – which brings faster performance, and better touch support. A “modern” version of Office is also coming.


5. Other Enhancements

Windows 8.1 brings to many changes and enhancements to mention in this preview, but several of the other major ones are: Native 3D printing support, Lock Screen Slide Show, Improved Keyboard and Mouse Support, Aggregated Search, More Snap Views, and Windows Explorer Changes

win81snapscreen


Conclusion

Windows 8.1 brings many features the users have requested since the release of Windows 8. It also brings many other enhancements to the operating system. I have been using Windows 8.1 for over a month, and enjoy it much more then basic Windows 8. The improvements to all areas of the OS allow for a better user experience. This is the operation system that Windows 8 should have been a year ago.


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