Microsoft released a public preview of Windows 8.1( download link below ) yesterday at the company's annual BUILD event. It was unveiled by Steve Ballmer and the corporate vice-president of Windows Julie Larson-Green said "With Windows 8 we built a new Windows, reimagined from the chipset to the experience. It was an ambitious vision, and with Windows 8.1 we refine it".
The update will be made available free of charge for Windows 8 and Windows RT. There is a catch, however: all those tech savvy, windows lovers installing the public preview will not be able to upgrade to the final release without reinstalling all of their applications. Those who choose to not participate in the preview, meanwhile, will be able to seamlessly upgrade to Windows 8.1 without having to reinstall anything.
Here is a list of improvements you can look forward to :
1. The Return of Start button
The start button has been introduced in this new build of windows(which you can't disable). Clicking on it won't give you the old-school fly out menu but the modern start screen only.
2. Boot-to-desktop mode
If you really want to relive the old days of Windows then enable the boot-to-desktop mode, by right-clicking on the Taskbar, and then clicking "Properties." Also, another feature which you can enable from the same same menu is that you can opt to have the same wallpaper for both the desktop and Start Screen.
3. More personalized lock Screen
With Windows 8.1, you have the option of running a slideshow on your lock screen, with photos coming from various places, like your PC and SkyDrive . You can also accept Skype video and voice calls from the lock screen, similar to the way you can answer your phone without punching in a pin first.
4. Snap more apps
With windows 8.1 you can now snap more apps depending upon your computer's screen resolution. Before you could only use two apps in the snap app mode in which one app took 70% of the screen and other 30%.But now this restriction has been removed and the apps can take upto 50% of the screen each.
5. Skydrive Integration
SkyDrive is now the default location for saving documents. So you always have your files wherever you go, even when you're offline. And with the included SkyDrive app, you can manage both local files and SkyDrive files in one place.
6. Internet Explorer 11
Internet Explorer 11 largely looks the same as its IE10 counterpart. The tab interface has been moved to the bottom, and Microsoft is catching up to the competition with tab sync across Windows 8.1 devices and Windows Phone. WebGL is also supported in Internet Explorer 11, and website owners can create separate Live Tiles that can be pinned to the Start Screen to access RSS feeds.
7. Better photography
Microsoft has some pretty intriguing user experiences for snapping shots and editing photos in Windows 8.1. With Photosynth, part of the Camera app, you can take a whole 360 degree photosphere — an entire room floor to ceiling — just by moving the tablet around, as if each image is filling in the pieces of a virtual jigsaw puzzle. The Photosynth software stitches them all together, and the results are surprisingly good. Meanwhile, the Photos app lets you enhance or mute colors through a different circular procedure: you drop a pin on any spot, then rotate a radial dial to adjust the intensity.
There is a lot more in store for us. To experience all this and a lot more, download the Windows 8.1 Preview here.