Here we are, with the first glimpse at the Windows 8.1, a free update to Microsoft’s Windows 8 which is expected to be available this autumn.
Comparing it with Windows 8, Windows 8.1 still has the Start screen (the Metro UI). It is, however, a more customizable Start screen. Microsoft has added two new sized tiles:
- a double height tile, which shall allow apps to show more information
- a smaller tile size, which shall allow apps to be compressed
Microsoft has definitely made some interesting customizable changes in the Metro UI, such as more options for the Start screen background and colors, including animated backgrounds and the option to use the same background as used on the desktop.
Windows 8.1 has also paid equal importance to the users’ personalization. If you’ve been using Windows 8 and installed a new application, the icon automatically might have jumped onto the Start Screen, that’s really annoying. This has been revamped in the new version, now the new installed application would be highlighted in the “All Programs” as newly installed, but it’s upto the user to pin it to the start screen or not. The “All Programs” list has also been revamped, with addition of some filter options. Microsoft has even claimed that it will now be possible to boot directly to the “All Programs” application or the desktop, rather than the Start Screen. This is what the majority of the Windows 8 users were looking forward to.
Another interesting update is that, we’ll not only have the ‘Start’ button on our keyboards and mice but Windows 8.1 will also feature the Start Button on the taskbar. Hitting the Start Button will direct you to the Start Screen. Well yes, I know how happy you are. 🙂
In 8.1, users can run Metro apps on multiple monitors simultaneously. On any single monitor, more than two applications can be run simultaneously. Instead of Windows 8’s fixed split, where one application gets 320 pixels and the other application gets the rest, the division between apps will be variable.
Concluding the article, I personally feel that Microsoft has taken users’ feedback very seriously, re-installing the Start Button is the clear indication. Windows is now even more flexible and personal. A beta version on Windows 8.1 shall be available on June 26 at the Microsoft’s Developers Conference, Build.
Overall, these sound like sensible changes. The new operating system will keep the same core elements as Windows 8 but assemble them in a way that’s more flexible, more personal, and fundamentally more useful. A beta of the new version will become available on June 26, coinciding with Microsoft’s developer conference, BUILD.