Microsoft Talks Windows 8.1, New Features, Start Button, Boot To Desktop, IE11, Deeper Skydrive & Bing Integration

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Today on the official Windows Blog, Microsoft gave a first look at Windows 8.1, outlining some of the new feature and improvements that are coming in personalization, apps, windows store, internet explorer, and cloud connectivity.

Personalization:

As we reported yesterday Windows 8.1 will allow you to choose your Start Screen background.  You can set your desktop background and Start Screen background to be exactly the same.  There will be more colors and backgrounds available for the Start Screen including ones with motion.

Taking a page from Windows Phone, Win8.1 will have new tile sizes, including extra small and extra large.  You can now also select multiple apps at once to resize, uninstall, rearrange, or name into groups.  A new gesture, swiping to the bottom, will show the all apps view.  The ability to filter apps by name, date installed, most used, or by category has been added.   So 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.

You can have a slideshow set as your lockscreen, turning your expensive PC into a fancy picture frame.  These photos can be local or from the cloud (Skydrive etc). Also similar to Windows Phone is the ability to take picture right from the lock screen, using the built-in camera, without having to log in.

 

 

Start screen High resStart with wallpaper High res

 

 

Bing:

The search charm will now provide global search, of course powered by Bing.  Bing will pull search from many sources including the web, local files, Skydrive and more to provide the best answer for your search.  Microsoft thinks of this as a more modern version of the command line.

Search High res

Apps and Windows Store:

The built-in apps are always getting improvements.  The Photos app is getting new basic editing features and you can now open the photo app from other apps such as Mail, Skydrive, and Camera apps.  The Music app has been completely redesigned! More information about improvements to the other built-in apps will come in a future blog post.

Multitasking High res

Snap-mode has been improved in Win8.1 making it easier to use multiple apps at once.  You can now resize and snap apps to any size you want, and have up to three apps on a screen.  You can now also have multiple Metro apps running on multiple monitors.  You can also have multiple windows of the same app snapped together, for example two windows in IE.

Windows Store

The Windows Store is getting some minor improvements.  You can now see detailed lists of top free apps, new releases, and picks for you on the homepage. App listing will be more descriptive and informative and includes an area for related apps to help with app discovery.  It will also be easier to filter by category when looking at your own apps.  Apps will automatically update through the Windows Store.   A search bar will also be placed in the upper right hand corner, for users who do not know how to use the charms bar.

 

SkyDrive:

In Win8.1 SkyDrive is more deeply integrated, and you can directly save files to your Skydrive.  The Skydrive will sync your files and you will be able to see them when offline.  SkyDrive can now also be managed from PC Settings with the ability to see how much storage you have and options to buy more.

 Any new Microsoft account created will be @Outlook.com by default now.

 

SkyDrive High res

 

PC Settings:

More options from the control panel have been migrated into PC Settings.  New options include changing your display resolution, set power options, see the make and model of my PC, change the product key, Windows Update, and even joining domains.

Internet Explorer 11:

Win8.1 will come with IE11.  IE11 will now always show the address bar and support for unlimited tabs. Tabs will now be synced across all your Windows 8.1 devices, be careful when looking at porn.

Better Mouse and Keyboard Options

Mouse navigation has been improved for non touch screen PCs. As we reported earlier, a Start Button is coming.  Also you can change what the “corners.”  Boot to desktop is coming, along with boot to a specific metro app.  You can also change what hitting the start button does, either going to the Metro Screen or All Apps view.

More to Come:

Microsoft is primarily addressing what has already leaked with a few nuggets here and there.  More information for business/enterprise about management and security users is coming at TechEd next week.  More information on Win8.1 for us consumers is coming at the BUILD conference in June. Windows Embedded will also be talked aobut at build along with devices such as ATMs, point of service (POS) terminals, and kiosks running Windows 8.

Microsoft has confirmed Windows 8.1 will be delivered through the Windows Store and not Windows Update.

Read more about it here.

 

 

About Author

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

  • disqustingtard

    Yeah Pradeep are you reading this abomination of a copy paste clusterfuck…

  • CODE

    great!
    now…windows phone team , watch and learn how fast windows team is making a good product even better!
    hurry up….we don’t have much time

  • Bugbog

    A lot of good work here. An a flick in the eye to the “Start” moaners by enabling the option to access all apps from the desktop, which is one of the only few options currently missing from the desktop, IMO (Apart from the search charm functionality)

    I’m sure though, soon enough and just like clockwork, we’re going to have complaints/suits regarding the SkyDrive integration!

    • PoohGQ

      And surprising enough is that these suits may coming from the most unlikely of places – Hard drive manufacturers! Of course and Scroogle, Box, Evernote, etc..

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    that comment section in the Windows blog article is now full of retard people.. ugh, why they dont use their F brain and try to use the F Windows, and if they dont want to use the new Windows 8 or 8.1, they should just never upgrade and stay in DOS. none is forcing them! but some people seem like they dont even try to use Windows8 because “it looks different so since its now fullscreen, its not a good inteterface, its a tablet UI, and it doesnt work with mouse and keybord” (like if mouse and keyboard support was removed.

    it Works the same as Windows 7! obviously with differences but the way it works its the same, sometimes its even better and faster to use windows 8. the only thing missing its the useless jump list thing from start menu, but it was so useless, it was faster just to open the program and open the document there.

    now I even have to turn stupid start button off my taskbar in all my computer, and all because stupid people! my problem is not turning off stuff and customize it my way, but why bring old staff back that is useless and wont bring anything important or useful to the evolution of windows (since there was already a button) for all these stupid people and their stupid complaints? they probably don’t even use windows 8, they see it and don’t want it because it wasn’t made by another company.

    just like a lot of people complain about the Xbox One, when they haven’t even touched one, but since its from Microsoft and they cant use their F brain they say “its crap and not good blabla and now I cant play games only watch tv because that’s all they showed in reveal, we want to play games in a console game #ps4isbetter”

    I wish I could throw my computer to one of those idiots in comment section. some people are so stupid I cant think how they even use a computer! just disconnect the computer if you can deal with change and evolution, nobody will miss you anyway.

    Anyway! this update bring really good things and really stupid useless things. but mostly good, so im glad we can finally use desktop and win8 apps together! and its nice we can open 1 app multiple times. I thought you could pin 4 apps at the same time in one screen but it seems only allowing up to 3! but its always a good thing. I wonder if it still depends on resolution like shown before or it would always allow the same 3 even if I have a 1366×768 screen like a lot of tablets.
    But this update sounds really good! minus the retard stuff, but its mostly a great upgrade for people who like to use Windows 8.
    I really cant wait to use desktop and while using win8 apps! I miss using a leaked version just for that.

    • MSFTmanJosh

      I am with you with the Windows 8 and Xbox One stuff. People just love to complain as soon as they see Microsoft somewhere in the picture. Xbox One looks like it will be fantastic. A bang for my buck. Windows 8 is amazing.

      • PoohGQ

        The OS and UI of the One will definitely be a blast. But please, they need to do something about the design of the box and Kinect. I will have to put up with that in my livingroom for f**ksake..!?!

        • MSFTmanJosh

          It’s not bad in my opinion. I’ll save my “looks” opinion when I see it personally or at another moment.

    • nohone

      Google specifically disables comments in their blog postings. Apple does not permit blogging. Microsoft cares to hear from their customers, or, in the case of many of those people who commented, non-customers who just want to try to drive people away from Microsoft.

  • Christian Hartwig

    With the new snap Options for Metro apps, it’s hopefully possible to drag & drop between two apps.

    • Blue

      ooooh….I’m waiting for that!

  • Willem Evenhuis

    Somehow I can not join the conversation or sign in to the authors article on windows blog. I hope therefore that the administrator will allow me to post here.

    I think it is good to see that windows is busy bringing out an update to an already awesome OS. I think I’m looking most forward to the larger double wide tiles for all apps and the updates to the native apps.

    There are some key things the windows omitted in support of their software and hardware for 8.1. I have a surface pro, and I have encountered some issues and bugs I hope that will be adressed.

    1. Bluetooth. I use it regularly to listen to audio over bluetooth speakers. unfortunately I have to go all the way into the pc settings just to turn it on and off. It is apparantly easy to turn on/off wifi, but they forgot bluetooth. I have to do 5 taps to get in, while wifi only needs 2 from the charms bar. I wish they would add a bluetooth toggle, just like messages, to switch it on and off. That an enduser has to go so far in the settingsmenu for this, especially for the surface pro is cumbersome.

    2. Microsoft news app is get for reading news, but the section for personalizing rss feeds is extremely buggy and the app crashes often. It happens especially when opening an article in the built in browser. It somehow often gets stuck in loading the page, freezes and then crashes. It definitely needs a fix and an option to add the newspaper format together with the main news.

    3. The metro icons are too small and prone to low sensitivity to touch. I’ve noticed in several apps that the windows icons such as back buttons (metro style) are so small that they have a frequent error rate for a mouse-over tap for touch. This is especially so for the surface pro. I often have to press 3-5 times, precisely center mark for the button to work. Please make ik possible for developers to use a larger array of windows (metro) style buttons for touchscreen devices.

    4. Like in outlook I am still missing the option to add emails as attachments to calendar appointments. I use this function a lot. With this function I can read the content of the email within the calendar app to see what the appointment is about. Now I have to keep switching between apps, in this case which is not the prefered way to be productive.

    5. In the peoples hub I’m missing the option to read personal messages and to accept and decline a friend invite. Currently there is a good basic facebook functionality in the peoples hub app on windows 8, but for other basics as mentioned earlier I have to switch to the facebook app. I do not use the facebook app for anything else, so microsoft please add this functionality to the peoples hub app.

    6. When using the touchtype keyboard I often accidentally press the mousepad which often causes me to suddenly switch to another app by accident while typing. This is irritating. I wish there was a way or gesture to turn the touchpad off.

    7. With windows 8 on the surface pro on the lowest functional powersonsumption settings I can manage roughly 6 hours of offgrid power. I hope the update has more interesting tweaks to shut off more unnescearry background tasks and more efficient powermanagment by apps to crank up the usability time.

    8. It would be nice if windows journal and onenote could get the function of on page ink-to-text recognition like the Myscript app by visionobjects. Its the missing key for me of the whole stylus game. If not please redirect to someone who would be happy to work on this project. I’ll be happy to help.

    I think with this list completed, I’ll be very satisfied and more efficiently productive with my surface pro.

    Thanks.

  • ian

    awesome. can’t wait for the dev preview this June… looking to here more news soon!