Last night Microsoft unveiled its updated Windows 8.1 operating system for PCs and tablets and also released a preview version for developers and users to download. On the face of it, Windows 8.1 is not a major update and the refinements Microsoft has made address a lot of issues costumers have complained about. So let’s check out the top 10 new features of Windows 8.1. Also Read - Windows 11 could be a free upgrade for you provided you fall in this categoryAlso Read - Nintendo Direct E3 2021: Metroid Dread, Mario Party Superstars, a new Legend of Zelda and more
Start Button: The Start Button makes a return, but it is basically a shortcut that takes you back to the Start Screen and not nearly as feature rich as the Start Button in Windows 7. That said, one can use the right click on the button to activate more power user features and one can also deactivate Windows hot corners altogether if one plans on avoiding the metro environment. Also Read - Windows 11 leaked online: Centralised start menu, revamped UI, new widgets, here's what to expect
Boot to Desktop: Microsoft has added more visual parity between the Start Screen and the Desktop as now users can use their desktop wallpaper as the background for the Start Screen. This results in a more palatable transition between the two environments. Users can also directly boot to the desktop and not worry about dealing with the Start Screen.
Multiple Monitor Support and Multitasking: Windows 8.1 now handles multiple monitors more elegantly. Even the way the Snap mode works has been refined. Now users are not restricted to the 70/30 split for apps and can have even four or more apps running in a single screen. Microsoft even showcased using the improved multiple-monitor support that up to eight apps could be viewed on two screens using Snap. On tablets that are smaller than 10-inches the Snap mode gets reduced to a 50/50 split which is still better than what is currently possible.
Skype: There is a new lockscreen in Windows 8.1 that allows users to load up Skype without even unlocking the device. This means if one is receiving a Skype call, then one can easily receive it without unlocking the device.
Settings Control: The settings menu in the modern UI has been greatly improved so that users don t need to run back to the control panel in the desktop. Now using this menu users cane even change the screen resolution setting which was previously only possible via the desktop.
IE 11: Internet Explorer 11 is a part of Windows 8.1 and it is WebGL enabled and website owners can create separate Live Tiles that can be pinned to the Start Screen to access RSS feeds. It even adds a reading lists like feature and will also detect phone numbers on sites so you can call them using apps like Skype.
Bing Integration: Microsoft has deeply integrated Bing into Windows 8.1. While this makes a lot of sense, one wonders why it did not do it before, because this is perhaps the most logical way to get an upper hand over Google. Now, Bing powers the interface in Windows 8.1. This means whenever one runs a search query it is powered by Bing, may it be a local search query for an app, a file or a web based query. This is an adaptive interface, so overtime it learns user behaviour so that it can deliver a more personalised experience. A notable new addition is Bing Heros, which basically is a full screen skin that presents a combination of audio, video, textual and photographic content related to search query pulled from the web. So if a user runs a search query for Jimi Hendrix one will be presented with a wealth of textual content from Wikipedia, new pieces, images from Bing, videos from Bing video and music which is pulled from Xbox Music. This is a life changing way of approaching search and the fact that it is integrated into the world s most popular operating system could have major implications.
Live Tiles: Windows 8.1 two new live tile sizes to the modern UI, which now looks more like Windows Phone 8, this is a neat touch, but also means that users can organise their screens in a more personal way. Actually, collating and organising apps is also a more hassle free experience and multiple apps can be selected at once and grouped together. Additionally, Microsoft has added an All Apps menu, which can be summoned via swipe to the top from the bottom. This menu displays all apps which include desktop and modern UI style applications.
Skydrive Integration: There is deep Skydive integration and this results in syncing of settings and apps across multiple Windows 8 devices. This works similar to iCloud syncing. Additionally, apps get automatically updated via the Windows Store and users don t need to manually update them. In fact, the Windows Store has been updated which makes discovery of apps simpler.
New Core Apps: All the core applications in Windows 8.1 will receive a major overhaul. Notably, the Mail app has been made more useful for power users, but it is not available in the Preview build. Features like including drag-and-drop support, sweep and the ability to group social and newsletters in one place are important steps, and Mail will also be able to pop open an app, side-by-side with Mail, to quickly view a web link or attached photo. Additionally, Xbox Music has been redesigned to provide easier access to music and creating playlists. There is a new feature called PhotoSynth inside the camera app, and you can take a whole 360 degree photosphere using it. Users can also edit their photos using the core Photos app to some degree.
There are many more improvements in Windows 8.1, which is also the first OS to support 3D printers out of the box. It also now supports ultra high resolution displays. Stay tuned for more coverage of all that’s new and improved in Windows 8.1.