Tag Archives: Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 given first official outing, and yes, the Start button is back

Microsoft has given a first look at Windows 8.1, the free update to Windows 8 that it plans to deliver this autumn.

Though it will disappoint some, it should surprise few to learn that Windows 8.1 will not revert all the user interface changes made in Windows 8. Instead, 8.1 will be an incremental update that builds on the Windows 8 interface and its Metro design, but does not replace it.

Windows 8.1

As such, Windows 8.1 still has the Start screen. It is, however, a more customizable Start screen. There are new tile sizes: a double height tile, to allow apps to show more information, and a smaller tile size, to allow apps to be packed more tightly. There are more options for the Start screen background and colors, including animated backgrounds and the ability to use the same background as used on the desktop. This last change should make the Start screen feel a little less visually disconnected from the desktop world.

The Start screen is also more respectful of personalization. In Windows 8, newly-installed applications just dump their tile or icons on the Start screen. This undermined the personal nature of the screen; you’d have your own, neatly organized apps, but then you’d install a desktop program and it’d just spew a dozen icons all over the place. In Windows 8.1, new apps don’t get to automatically stick a tile on the Start screen. They’ll still show up in the all programs app view, and they’ll be highlighted as new, but the decision to pin them rests with the user.

That all programs view is also more flexible, with a variety of sorting and filtering options. Microsoft says that it will be possible to make “alternate screens” the default when you boot the system. The company mentions explicitly the ability to boot directly to all programs view, rather than the tile view, and it’s believed that it will also be possible to boot directly to the desktop.

Not content with putting Start buttons on mice (in addition to keyboards, tablets, and the charms bar), Microsoft is reinstating the taskbar Start button. Clicking it will bring up the Start screen.

Within Metro apps, the button will remain invisible; putting the mouse cursor near the bottom left of the screen will show the button, as it does in Windows 8, but the button itself has changed its appearance. In Windows 8, the button is a miniature thumbnail depiction of the Start screen. In 8.1, it will simply be the Windows logo.

Search is getting reworked to aggregate search results from multiple content sources, including files, apps, settings, and the Web, simultaneously.

Windows 8.1

Some of Windows 8′s obvious limitations are being lifted. In 8.1, Metro apps can be run 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. It’ll also be possible to have multiple windows from a single app so that, for example, two browser windows can be opened side-by-side.

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The built-in applications will get a bunch of updates, and some new apps will be added. Microsoft gave a little information about what we can expect to see—fewer restrictions on the Photos app so it can open files from more places and perform light editing, a “completely redesigned” Music app to make it easier to play your own music (and, we hope, have less of the hard sell that the current app has), and built-in saving directly to and loading from SkyDrive, even when offline. The company says that it’ll provide more information on the new and updated apps later in the year.

Windows 8.1

Work is also being done on two of the “special” built-in apps: Settings and Internet Explorer. A major flaw with using Windows 8, especially on a tablet machine, is that many, many settings can only be found in the desktop Control Panel, forcing finger-based users onto a mouse-based interface. Microsoft claims that in 8.1, the Settings app will contain “all” of the settings on your device, including things like joining domains and changing the screen resolution.

Internet Explorer 11 will, of course, be faster, have better standards support, and include all the other things we expect new browsers to do. One of those features—not yet confirmed, but strongly hinted—is support for WebGL 3D graphics. The browser will also catch up to Chrome and Firefox in other regards, with tab sync across machines.

Overall, these sound like sensible changes. The new operating system will retain 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.

Windows 8.1 given first official outing, and yes, the Start button is back

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Windows 8.1 release date, news and rumors

Microsoft has revealed more details about the Windows 8.1 update to Windows 8, formerly known as Windows Blue.

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The new features for Windows 8.1 will be previewed at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in June and the final version will be available as a free update for Windows 8 users.

Microsoft also said in early May that there would be a preview version available before full release – we’ll get the preview during Build.

Windows 8.1 release date

The final Windows Blue release date is late 2013, while there will also be some new Windows Blue hardware.

In a post on the official Windows blog early in May, Tamy Reller, Microsoft’s chief marketing office and chief financial officer, confirmed what we already knew – the update will be available “later this year”.

Reller went on to say that the update will provide “more options for businesses, and give consumers more options for work and play”.

Reller confirmed the Windows 8.1 name during a conference call with J.P. Morgan, where plans for the operating system were discussed.

Quite how the upcoming preview release will work in practice remains to be seen, but you might not be able to install it straight into an existing Windows 8 install.

There aren’t likely to be too many massive surprises from Blue, which our writer Kate Solomon says “we feel a bit guilty for passing off as a minor Windows update” now that we’ve seen plenty of Windows Blue screenshots.

Microsoft Build-900-100

Windows Blue is actually Windows 8.1?

Windows Blue will not be the software’s official name. Shame. Instead Windows Blue is just the internal name for the software.

So speculation has turned to what the software’s actual name will be. Microsoft’s Windows Blue will officially be deemed Windows 8.1, said a new report in early April.

Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet’s All About Microsoft blog said the Windows 8.1 tip came from a reliable source and screenshots of the About Windows screen also appeared on Twitter – see below.

In stores, the update will still be called simply Windows 8, according to Foley’s source – that means Microsoft isn’t about to start naming its incremental OS refreshes like Apple does (like OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion). But it does indicate a new attitude to software updates that it’s previously called Service Packs.

One thing we definitely would say, it’s unlikely that Windows Blue will mean the merging of Windows 8 and with Windows Phone 8 into a single product.

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New Windows 8 apps

As well as the operating system itself, Microsoft is apparently building some new Windows 8 apps, looking at new ways to run apps side-by-side on smaller-screened devices without needing hefty black-box-level resolution. That’s in addition to the March updates for standard Windows 8 apps.

Blue is also bringing in new Snap Views so you can share your screen 50:50 between different apps rather than the current 70:30, including across multiple monitors.

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As expected, Microsoft is upping the Sky Drive integration, with some new treats like auto-camera uploads and more back-up options, as well as tab sync which will see your tabs mirrored across devices.

The grabs also reveal the inclusion of IE11 but not much detail on the next iteration of browser beyond that.

And for the personalisation fans, the grabs show a quick and easy menu of options for customising your desktop background and other design elements

IE11-900-100

Windows Blue desktop

Could Windows Blue enable users to boot straight to the desktop? Some rumours think so. You can’t boot straight to the desktop in Windows 8, though you can resume to it.

Some coden supposedly includes an option that disables the start screen so users would jump straight to the desktop layout – known as “CanSuppressStartScreen”.

Certainly there are no plans to ditch the desktop any time soon. In an interview with TechRadar, Windows Product Manager Ian Moulster was candid about the desktop’s important role in Windows.

“To be honest I don’t have an answer because I don’t know. I’m loathe to speculate. It seems highly unlikely to me. I haven’t seen anything either way. I’d be surprised, but that’s my personal view.”

“I think it’s a continuation of us always building on what’s there. Windows 8 is built on Windows 7 and starts from where Windows 7 stops, and I don’t think there will be a change to that approach. We’d be crazy to throw anything away.

“But what form that takes we’ll have to wait and see I suppose. I think we have said that we’ll be releasing updates more frequently, but precisely what that means I don’t know. There’s the apps as well, we’ve released plenty of updates to our apps.”

Windows Blue sync

It seems that more features will be synchronized between PCs and your user account with Windows Blue. It looks like this will extend to the Start screen as well as device associations and Internet Explorer tabs.

Further Windows development

According to a February 15 job posting on the Microsoft Careers site, the software giant is seeking an engineer to join its Windows Core Experience Team.

That part of the operation will be working on improving the centrepiece of the new Windows UI, including the start screen, application lifecycle, windowing and personalisation, according to the post.

This seems to suggest that Windows Blue will bring more than a few tweaks under the bonnet and offer tangible visual enhancements to the Windows 8 software.

Indeed, the post mentions Windows Blue by name and says the updates will look to “build on and improve Windows 8″ as time goes on.

An excerpt reads: “We’re looking for an excellent, experienced SDET to join the Core Experience team in Windows Sustained Engineering (WinSE). The Core Experience features are the centerpiece of the new Windows UI, representing most of what customers touch and see in the OS, including: the start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization.Windows Blue promises to build and improve upon these aspects of the OS, enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide.”

Windows Blue will extend to other platforms

It is also thought that Windows Blue updates will be extended to multiple Microsoft platforms, including Windows server, the mobile OS Windows Phone 8 and applications like SkyDrive and Outlook.com.

Indeed, another post on Microsoft’s job site mentions Windows Phone Blue by name, so that is definitely on the horizon.

The plan from Microsoft’s point of view is reportedly to move towards a more regular update pace, rather than the three year gap that separated Windows 7 and Windows 8, with little improvements in between.

Apple has enjoyed great success in this arena, gradually adding new strings to the bow of Mac OS X every year, through its feline-themed updates.

Via Techradar

Windows 8.1 release date, news and rumors

Blue rechristened as Windows 8.1, will be a free upgrade

It’s a sad day for colour fans as Microsoft has announced that its Windows 8 update codenamed Blue will, very boringly, be called Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1

The news came by way of an announcement by Microsoft’s chief financial officer for the Windows division, Tami Reller, during a conference call with J.P. Morgan, where plans for the upgraded operating system were discussed.

Of course, calling the update Windows 8.1 follows Microsoft’s traditional conventions and the decision should avoid people thinking this is a whole new Windows platform.

Blue screen of death

All was forgiven as soon as another four letter word popped up – free. Yes, Microsoft confirmed that the update will come with no charge to Windows 8 computers.

Reller also stated that the update will arrive later this year – which we already knew, but it’s always nice to hear it again.

Windows 8.1 is expected to address the biggest concerns users had with the Windows 8 Metro interface and will be available from the Windows start screen when it arrives, Reller said.

Meanwhile, a preview version of 8.1 will be released at Microsoft Build in June.

Via Engadget

Blue rechristened as Windows 8.1, will be a free upgrade