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Everything you need to know about Windows 8.1: Features, Upgrades and FAQs

Microsoft’s Windows division’s CMO Tami Reller yesterday announced that the much talked about update to the Windows 8 software launched last October, code-named “Blue,” will be called Windows 8.1. The announcement was made during a speech at J.P. Morgan’s Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Boston.

Available for download for free for existing Windows 8 users, Windows 8.1 will supposedly have significant changes and not mere ‘frequent fixes’ that Windows 8 OS has had 739 times so far.

“Windows 8.1 will be delivered as a free update to Windows 8 and to Windows RT and it will be easy to get right from the Windows start screen through the app store,” said Tami Reller.

Revealing sparse details about more features, and putting them on hold till Windows 8.1’s preview on June 26 at Microsoft’s Build developers conference, San Francisco, Tami Reller spoke about Windows group’s “principled but not stubborn” approach to updating the operating system.

“You need to have a vision. You need to have a point of view. And you need to consistently deliver on that,” Reller said. “You’re also consistently listening, learning, and becoming smarter,” said Reller.
Everything you need to know about Windows 8.1- Features, Upgrades and FAQs

FAQs and Everything you need to know about Windows 8.1

What is Windows 8.1?
An update to Windows 8 software launched last October. It was earlier code-named “Windows Blue”.

When does Windows 8.1 release?
General release of Windows 8.1 will be somewhere around the winter holidays a.k.a Christmas 2013, however a “preview version” will be unveiled at Microsoft’s Build developers conference, San Francisco, on June 26.

How do I get Windows 8.1?
The Windows 8.1 update will be available for download for free for existing Windows 8 users through the Windows Store.

Will the start button return in Windows 8.1?
No idea. But it surely hasn’t been ruled out. The only thing Microsoft has said regarding the Start button is that “The Start Button might be helpful,” and that the team is having “meaningful discussions” about it. But don’t get your hopes high.

Will Windows 8.1 support different screen sizes?
Since Microsoft is rumored to be preparing to launch a 7-inch Surface tablet soon, so probably yes!

What new features will there be in Windows 8.1?
If the Internet leaks of the confidential builds of Windows 8.1 are anything to go by, the new release will have following enhancements:

Changes in Start screen in Windows 8.1:

  • The “All Apps” button will be removed from the Start screen app bar and replaced by a hidden downward arrow. Users with touch-based systems will be able to access the Apps view by a ‘swipe up’ from the Start screen.
  • Start screen tiles will be available in more size options; namely small, medium, and extra large. The two new options will be ‘thumbnail size” and an “extra large size.” The thumbnail size will supposedly be 1/4th of the existing smaller tile. Users will also be able to lock tiles in place to prevent accidental shifting.
  • Color options on the Start screen will be expanded and allow users users to customize a color and a shade as per their choice, instead of choosing one limited colors available.
  • Users will be able to uninstall Metro-style apps from multiple computers using Start screen’s uninstall command.
New Features of Windows 8.1 (blue)- Start screen tiles

You can change the size of Start Screen Tiles in Windows 8.1.

Internet Explorer 11: will see an upgrade and include WebGL and SPDY support and redesigned developer tools.

Additional apps: a calculator, alarm clock, sound recorder, video editing app, file manager and probably something called Movie Moments.

WindowsPowerShell v4.0: will have many new commands for managing the Start screen, Windows Defender, Windows components, hardware and network.

Kiosk mode: will enable users to lock down the computer/device running Windows 8.1 to a to a single application, which means it can’t be used for anything else.

SkyDrive: Better SkyDrive control and integration with auto picture uploads and ability to set the SkyDrive as the default location for files. User’s will also be able backup their entire devices to SkyDrive.

50/50 split screen apps: will allow users to run two apps side by side in contrast to one thin and one large as is the case with Windows 8. Theycan also change size of the columns snapped apps occupy themselves. Users on higher-resolution devices will be able to run even three or four app windows side by side. Upon launching an app, Windows8.1 will allow the user to pick which snapped view the app should open into.

Windows 8.1 (blue) new features and enhancements- split screen apps

Users will be able to split Windows 8.1 apps 50:50 on screen

Other major changes in Windows 8.1:

Windows 8.1 will also include support for ReFS, Miracast, Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface and Universal Flash Storage.

Updated PC Settings component: will include options that were previously exclusive to only Control Panel.

“Take screenshot” option will be available in the Share charm.

Microsoft also plans to “extend touch in even more dramatic fashion”. This is even more likely if we go by Microsoft’s Research demo video of Fresh Paint for Windows 8.1.

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