Microsoft has finally unveiled the preview version of the of Windows 8.1 and it looks spectacular. It takes all the complaints that had been lodged against the Windows 8 and rectifies them all in one go. The company has also introduced several new features and changes to bring a refined user experience. New and improved search experience, better customization options, improved apps and UI tweeks are just some of the things you will be acquainted to, with the new update. Let's have a look at some of the key features of the preview version of the update
Start screen in Windows 8.1 features a variety of tile sizes including a new large and new small tile, allowing you to better organize your Start screen. You will have to hold down on the tiles to move them resize them.
You can now set any image Start Screen wallpaper and even set motion backgrounds to make the Interface more livelier.
Users now have the option of booting to desktop or stick on with the Metrofied Start screen.
The Windows 8.1 update has been optimized for touchscreen devices. You will be able to access the new all apps screen (Lists all the apps in the system) by just a swipe up.
The lock screen now offers quick access to the camera, a slideshow feature that can bring forth pictures from SkyDrive or the local drive. You will also be able to take Skype calls quickly from the Locked screen.
The highly popular "Start button" has been brought back with the update. Although it doesn't exactly open up a Start Menu it takes you back to the Start Screen. Now that the new apps screen is there, the requirement for start menu shouldn't be there.'
You can also right click on the Start button to access power user commands or to shutdown or restart your system.
The ability to run two apps in a split screen was something unique that was introduced to windows 8. With the new update you can better control the sizes of the apps on the screen (sizes of the apps on the screen are no longer fixed) . This can allow you to add more then 2 apps on your screen.
This is perhaps the best feature of the new update. The new Bing powered search charm let's you easily find what you are looking for from the PC or the web. All this can be done by simply typing on the Start screen. The charm has type predictions much like a Google search to make it easier to find things.
What is even more is impressive is, when you search for personality, for example an artist, the search presents images, video and audio content of the artist in a full screen view. The search interface pulls web links and displays a thumbnail preview of them. You can play audio content of the artist on the Xbox Music directly from the search or for that matter even play Youtube videos.
You can find news along with information from Wikipedia and see images relevant to the topic. The search can also display info on nearby attractions, upcoming events and more, if it is relevent.
The Photosynth which is a part of the camera app let's you take 360 digree panoramic images, while the photos app lets users to quickly enhance colors on a picture. Users can just drop a pin on any spot of the picture and dial rotator kind of a tool pops up - you can modify color intensity by just rotating the dial.
Internet Explorer 11
The new Internet Explorer lets you add unlimited tabs and to stir things up they appear on the bottom now. The new explorer also detects phone numbers on sites, which you can use to call via Skype. Adding on the the features the app now supports new Reading List feature, which allows you to bookmark pages for later reading. You can also sync these pages across all of your Windows devices via cloud.
New Apps and Revamps
Microsoft did say that all the core apps for windows 8.1 will be revamped. Notably, Xbox Music app has been redesigned to make it more easier to access to your songs and albums. Xbox Music will also let you quickly make playlist of songs from an artist from a website listing. The Mail app now features automatic filters for newsletters, shortcuts for finding emails from your favorites.
Microsoft also adds new apps like the Metro-style versions of Alarms, Calculator, and Sound Recorder, Bing Health & Fitness and Bing Food & Drink. Bing Health & Fitness app is pretty self explanatory, it gives you tips on how to be healthy and fit. Bing Food & Drink is a recipe book, but what's unique about this app is it picks up gestures from the air via webcam - you can turn pages with a air swipe.
Windows 8 users can download the new OS from the Windows 8.1 Preview page. In case you want to go back to windows 8, you will simply have to uninstall Windows 8.1 Preview. It is not required for you to freshly re-install Windows 8.