A look at Windows 8.1 Preview

Windows 8.1

Microsoft is having a very mixed kind of response on Windows 8, most of the things that Microsoft introduced in Windows 8 were new and sort of an experiment. Will all the responses the the huge Windows community worldwide, Microsoft is fixing all the things that consumers didn’t like in Windows 8, from low personalization options to developer related backend stuff. Also, Microsoft seems to be loving their RT Surface a lot, Microsoft has also released the Windows 8.1 Preview for RT tablet devices, but they can not return back to Windows 8 RT while PC users can.

Windows 8.1 Preview was one of the first announcements at //Build/ Developer Conference happening in San Francisco.

Looks and Lockscreen

The major thing to happen in Windows 8.1 Preview is the UI and Personalization options. Though, they are not so significant but they are still the most significant of all. Finally, Microsoft allows consumers to make the Start Screen look the way they want.

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Start Screen

The Start is very much customizable than before, with new Tile sizes, it feels much more like Windows Phone. You can customize pretty much everything you can see on the screen, from the colors to the background, everything.The animations also feel very smooth and have a feel of good.

Moving to Lockscreen, Windows 8.1 now has more customization option here too, including the slideshow view. It can display a slideshow of photos in a folder you selected. It feels smooth and nice.

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The Lockscreen

The return of Start Button

First thing to say, its not the Start Button but a shortcut to Start Screen. Microsoft has anyway included this as a small shortcut for the ones who were unable to figure out how to go back to Start Screen or to launch programs. Also, there is an option to shutdown straight from the Start Button.

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Return of Start Button

Snap and Multi Monitor

Earlier in Windows 8, apps were snapped with a ratio of approximately 30/70 which was sometimes not good. Microsoft, in Windows 8.1, not only allows 50/50 snap but also allows you to adjust the ratio. Not only you can snap 2 apps, but any number of apps as soon as you have space on the screen. Snapping works on increments of minimum of 500 px, that means, on a nomal laptop screen that is 1366×768, you will be able to snap 2 apps side by side, on a 1080p display (1920×1080) you will be able to snap 3 apps.

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Snap View

Windows 8.1 has a greatly improved Multi-Monitor support, Windows 8.1 can snap apps not only display wise but to monitors connected as secondary too. Not to forget, Windows 8.1 has new Miracast capabilities, simply connect to any Miracast supported display and use it freely. You can still snap apps on Miracast connected systems.

Metro-fying

Firstly, I don’t even know if that word exist. Anyways, moving back to Windows 8.1 talks, Microsoft has now tried to move all the options from the desktop to the Metro interface. For example, earlier the main settings of the PC were still controlled by the desktop Control Panel, now Microsoft has added a well designed Control Panel with metro interface to Windows 8.1.

Search, or say Bing

Windows 8.1 has a lot of features in terms of search, or say lot of ways to utilize Bing in the OS. Bing Search is now totally integrated into the OS, you can access it from any screen you can think of. This Bing powered search not only searches the web for the specified keyword(s) but searches the Local PC also. The older Search function in Windows 8 that was accessible from the Start Screen is not integrated into Bing, that means you can also search for Settings on the PC with bing itself.

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Bing Heroes

Bing now has an interesting feature called Bing Heroes, the only this it does is to display a beautiful screen filled with information when you search for a personality.

All about Apps

Windows 8.1 has a lot of new and updated apps, talking about new things first.

For photography lovers, PhotoSynth is now integrated into the Camera app, you can take full 360 Degrees capture of the room with this feature. Windows 8.1 not just have this but also features a lot of editing features. Most of the editing features are the basic of the basic features but works well.

Internet Explorer 11 is here will no UI overhaul from Internet Explorer 10 with a lot of  backend improvements. It finally supports the features that all the other Modern Browsers support, but still has many of the features remaining. WebGL is also supported in Internet Explorer 11, and website owners can create separate Live Tiles that can be pinned to the Start Screen to access RSS feeds. On the other hand, there are still many bad things, the metro version and the desktop version is still separate and does not feature cross sync.

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Internet Explorer 11

For the Cooking enthusiasts, there are new apps included in Windows 8.1 including Bing Health & Fitness and Bing Food & Drink. Bing’s Food & Drink is very interesting, it features a book like recipe list. It also has a ‘hands-free’ mode that just helps you prevent touching it with dirty hands. It actually looks at you with the webcam and sees if you want to turn the page.

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Bing Food & Drink

For the music enthusiasts, Microsoft has updated the Xbox Music app which is fairly good. Though, the improvements are minor but still worth a shot. The new UI stresses directly on Music and shows our Music in the first screen itself.

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Xbox Music

The Wanted

Yes, Windows 8 was sort of an OS with a whole lot of updates required. Windows 8.1 has issued updates for most of the things that all the people in this world wanted.

One of them is Boot to Desktop. As the name suggests, it directly takes you to the desktop skipping the Start Screen. This option was requested by so many users primarily Desktop users.

There are so many small improvements that were required in Windows 8 but didn’t came their way. Windows 8.1 fixes many of those, and this article would be very small to list them all.

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Apps List

Windows Store

Windows Store has a drastic UI change, now has much better navigation too. The app is now very fluid which I felt that Windows 8 app was not. The App page also has a new UI that clearly tells what the app is and how it looks, with review on the side.We expect to see many more updates on the Windows Store soon.

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Windows Store: Front

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Windows Store: App Page

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Windows Store: More Info

Conclusion: Should I try it?

You love Windows 8? Go and try Windows 8.1 then. You hate/don’t love Windows 8? You should definitely try Windows 8.1 then.

Overall, Windows 8.1 is a solid yearly upgrade worth trying. Windows 8.1 has a lot of improvements over Windows 8 that should be given a look. Windows 8.1 is in Preview now, but still feels solid, fast and fluid. Windows 8.1 is still touch concentrated, but Desktop users will rejoice too. Windows 8.1 gets a lot of improvements for the people who use Laptops and Desktops over Tablets.

Where do I get it?

You can get Windows 8.1 Preview from here, or just go to preview.windows.com

Akshat loves to code, which is why he's a web developer. He founded Virtuaniz to serve his passion for tech, and currently serves as the Editor. You can follow him on the web: Website, Facebook, Twitter

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