The Top 5 Windows 8.1 features I'm looking forward to

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 26, 2013
Updated • Jun 26, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

You know that I have been running Windows 8 on my second PC ever since Microsoft released the first public preview version of the operating system. While it is not my primary PC, I do use it regularly for things like Steam, browsing the apps store and to test programs on Windows 8.

I'm looking forward to the release of Windows 8.1 later today as it seems to improve the operating system in many regards. While it won't resolve major points of criticism like the missing start menu, it appears that Microsoft will at least improve it in other ways to make it more tolerable for users who are opposed to the system.

At the very least, it is improving for current users of the operating system. It is not a brand new system, more of a service pack of sorts that takes care of several issues of Windows 8.

Here is a list of five features that I'm looking forward to the most in Windows 8.1

1. App management improvements

It is currently only possible to uninstall one application at a time. If you want to uninstall ten apps, you have to mark them all individually and select the uninstall option each time to do so. With Windows 8.1, you can mark them all at once and uninstall them in one go. Plus, you can do so across multiple PCs as well if you are running multiple devices with Windows 8.

Another new feature is the ability to snap apps to the screen so that they take up the same space on it. This mimics Windows 7's Aero Snap functionality on first glance as you can now display two apps side by side so that each takes up 50% of the screen. It is however possible to snap three apps to the screen so that they all take up 33%.

Apps last but not least can now update automatically so that you do not need to do so manually in Windows Store all the time.

2. Start Screen modifications

The Start Screen of the operating system has received its fair share of improvements as well. You can now display the desktop background wallpaper as the start screen wallpaper as well if you want for instance.

Microsoft has furthermore increased the maximum number of app rows on the Start Screen to nine. Two new tile formats are introduced in Windows 8.1 as well, one half the size of the smallest Windows 8 tile format, the other double the size of the largest Windows 8 tile format.

3. Boot to desktop / Charms

It is no longer necessary to use third party tools to boot to the Windows 8 desktop directly. If you want to bypass the start screen on boot, you can do so now natively in Windows 8.1.

As far as the Charms menu goes, it is now possible to disable the top Charms of the system when you move the mouse to the hot corners.

4. Internet Explorer 11

While it is not really clear what Internet Explorer 11 will bring to the table, some features like the ability to sync tabs are already known. It also appears as if Internet Explorer 11 will support WebGL and Google's SPDY among other things. What's not clear if IE11 will be a Windows 8.1 exclusive or if it will also be made available for Windows 7.

5. Global Search

While I have not tested the new global search option yet, it sounds as if it could become a winner. Instead of having to switch between apps, settings and files, it now seems possible to browse a unified search results listing instead which makes a lot more sense in my opinion.

Some of the changes are disappointing on the other hand. The start menu button that Microsoft introduces again is really nothing else than a button that links to the start screen. While you can right-click it for an improved context menu, it is not comparable to a "real" start menu.

Windows 8.1 downloads will go live later today on this page.


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  1. guest said on June 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    This list is disappointing. I was hoping for things such as:

    A. Windows 8.1 now gives users an option to select ‘restricted bandwidth mode’ on desktop machines where apps, software, and other misc. updates ALWAYS ASK YOUR PERMISSION before downloading updates and crap.
    B. Windows 8.1 comes with a built-in bandwidth monitor that actually works, no longer requiring users to install a dedicated bw monitor.
    C. Disable the blasted ribbon by default. Or at least give users full ability to customize it.
    D. Still stuck on NTFS. I expected better when 8.0 was released.
    E. Fix Windows 8.0 attempting to repair drives that don’t actually need repairing and in the process completely destroying the data on them.
    F. Decent built-in Firewall (on par with Comodo 5.x firewall)

    Instead you’ve listed:

    1. Apps management improvements
    –Lol. Apps are horrible, you should use normal software in desktop mode instead.
    2. Start screen mods
    –Or use classic shell and disable the start screen as it’s completely unneccesary
    3. Boot to desktop
    –Classic shell
    4. Internet Explorer 11
    –Firefox is superior, who cares.
    5. Global search
    –Everything Windows Search. Google it. Ultra fast indexing, instantaneous searching.

  2. ilev said on June 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm
    1. ilev said on June 26, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      How to install Windows 8.1 preview :

      Please note: If you are on Windows RT and have installed a language pack, please don’t install the Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix is coming so check back soon.

      1. ilev said on June 26, 2013 at 1:15 pm

        Please note: Some tablets and PCs running newer 32-bit Atom processors require updates to their graphics drivers before they can run the Windows 8.1 Preview. Those tablets and PCs include the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, ASUS VivoTab TF810C, HP Envy X2, HP ElitePad 900, Samsung ATIV Smart PC, and Fujitsu ARROWS Tab. We are working closely with Intel and OEM partners to deliver updated drivers that will allow you to install the Windows 8.1 Preview as soon as possible.

  3. downlz said on June 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    The content missed the big thing “Start Button”

    1. Shai said on June 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

      The re-addition of the Start button is nothing more than a cosmetic gesture. They brought back the icon but not the functionality. The Windows 8.1 Start button just switches between the desktop and the Home screen (a functionality that already exists in various forms in Windows 8, including an “invisible” button at the lower left corner – which is the traditional position of the Start button).

      I don’t think that the Start button was ever a real issue, I think that the main problem with Windows 8 experience is the fact that it goes back and forth between two interfaces that belong to two different types of user experiences. I think that this what bothers most people, i.e if one is using the desktop why do one needs to be exposed to the touch-oriented formerly known as Metro type of interface; and on the other hand, if one is using a touch based device (including some HTPCs for which the new tile interface is great), why does one need to be exposed to the desktop and the “old” point and click oriented interface?

  4. moinmoin said on June 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    As far as the Charms menu goes, it is now possible to disable its display when you move the mouse over to one of the corners of the operating system.

    Only in the top corner, Martin.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks, corrected.

  5. fokka said on June 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

    ms catching up to win95, let’s celebrate.

    1. anon said on June 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Still a long way to go dude, this thing only allow 4 apps displayed on a single screen. But hey they now allow you to change wallpaper on metro, yay.

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