Microsoft confirms Windows 8.1 features, announces Internet Explorer 11
The Internet rumor mill is buzzing with noise ever since Microsoft announced that it would release an update for Windows 8 this year. Windows Blue, or Windows 8.1, is not a service pack according to Microsoft but a feature upgrade for the operating system. Windows 8 has been heavily criticized ever since first public versions were made available by Microsoft for testing purposes.
Yesterday news leaked about a start menu button that Microsoft would add to the system again (after having removed it in Windows 8) and a desktop background that you could now also display on the operating system's start screen and not only the desktop.
Microsoft revealed additional details and information about Windows 8.1 on a new blog post on the official Windows blog today.
It is clear from the post that Microsoft will continue on the path that it has decided on. While this won't satisfy die hard critics of the operating system, it may please others who have not as many reservations. Microsoft confirmed that it listened to customer feedback and will introduce changes to the operating system as a response to the feedback.
The blog post covers seven areas. Below is a short summary of the changes and additions announced in the blog post.
- Users can turn their PC or tablet into a picture frame by displaying a slide show of pictures on the lock screen using local or SkyDrive pictures.
- More colors and background will be offered, including some with motion.
- Desktop backgrounds can now be displayed as start screen backgrounds.
- The start screen will feature additional tile sizes, at least one large (double the size of a the largest tile size in Windows 8) and one smaller tile size (half the size of the smallest tile size in Windows 8) will be available.
- Multiple apps can now be selected at once to be resized, moved or uninstalled.Â It is also easier to name groups and rearrange tiles.
- A swipe from the bottom displays all apps and apps can now be filtered by name, date installed, use or category.
- New apps that you install are not automatically added to the start screen anymore. They appear under apps instead and are highlighted as new.
- The built-in search will return global search results (powered by Bing).
- It features new quick actions, like playing music or videos, so that you can do so right from the results.
- You can now scroll to the left to access local files, apps and settings results.
- Microsoft compares it to a modern version of the Windows command line.
3. Apps and Windows Store
- All built-in apps will receive an overhaul in Windows 8.1.
- Microsoft will introduce new apps as well that it plans to introduce in future blog posts.
- New snap sizes will be made available so that you can for instance displays two apps next to each other with each app using 50% of the screen.
- The same app at the same time application limit is increased to three, so that you can display up to three apps at the same time in Windows 8.1
- Multiple windows of the same app can now be snapped together as well.
- Windows Store will feature an improved layout.
- App descriptions will offer more details and related apps will be shown here that you may be interested in as well.
- App updates install automatically in the background and through the store.
4. Cloud connectivity
- You can save files directly to SkyDrive in Windows 8.1.
- The SkyDrive app provides you with access to files on your device and in the cloud, and also features offline access to files.
- If you log in with your Microsoft account, personalization takes place automatically (settings, apps, and so on).
5. PC Settings
- Microsoft promises that the new PC Settings menu gives you access to all settings on the device so that you do not have to switch to the desktop control panel anymore.
6. Internet Explorer
- Internet Explorer 11 will launch with Windows 8.1.
- The browser will offer better touch performance, faster page load times and other new features.
- Options to adjust the appearance of the modern IE11 to always show the address bar and open an unlimited number of tabs.
- Tabs willÂ be automatically synced across devices.
7. Mouse and Keyboard options
- Windows 8.1 will introduce improvements for mouse and keyboard users (non-touch devices).
- This includes the start menu button that leads directly to the start screen.
- Options to change what the four corner actions do.
- Options to boot into alternate screens and not necessarily to the start screen.
The majority of improvements that Microsoft announced today improve how you work with Windows 8. While it changes some of the shortcomings and features that have been heavily criticized, it does not touch others at all. The new start button for instance does not really do anything that you cannot achieve with a tap on the Windows-key and is not what many users expected Microsoft to add.
It is interesting that Internet Explorer 11 will launch this year with Windows 8.1 as it usually takes Microsoft a lot longer to develop and publish a new version of the Internet browser.
Several features that Windows 8.1 introduces make a lot of sense. I'm particularly interested in the new tile sizes, the global wallpaper, better app handling and the Windows Store improvements that Microsoft has planned.
If you had hopes that Microsoft would restore the Windows 7 start menu then this is certainly disappointing news.Advertisement