Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off the newest features in Windows 8.1, the forthcoming update to Windows 8. Windows 8.1 seeks to address most of the complaints from casual and power users as well as provide several brand new improvements to streamline the overall experience.
One of the biggest changes is the return of the much beloved Start button familiar to all Windows users which was removed from Windows 8. Another help to users of previous incarnations of Windows is the added ability to boot directly to desktop mode without having to go through the tablet style interface. One more nod to PC users is a series of improvements in navigating Windows using a keyboard and mouse.
Beyond these widely desired changes, Microsoft has added several personalization features. These include the ability to customize backgrounds so that they are shared between both Desktop and Start screens to provide a more seamless transition between the two. A new digital photo display mode has been added which allows a Windows 8.1 device to function like a digital frame while in lock mode.
Microsoft has also tweaked several native apps, including Music, Photos and Windows Store, allowing more integration between the different apps as well as visual and speed upgrades. Search has been given a boost with Bing results being combined into a more complete whole across files on the device, SkyDrive, and of course the internet. Speaking of the internet, Windows 8.1 will be home to the latest Internet Explorer, IE11 which will have several improvements of its own.
Snap views have received a major upgrade and now allow running three apps simultaneously next to one another. Apps can be resized at will (fullscreen 50:50 for example) instead of being forced to occupy only a quadrant of the screen. More than one instance of the same app can also be run at the same time and put into Snap views.
When Windows 8.1 is released later this year, look forward to these improvements and more. It appears that Microsoft has listened to the recommendations of Windows 8 users and is making an effort to woo those reluctant to upgrade from older versions.