Formerly known as Windows Blue, the Windows 8.1 has recently been out on the market this 17th of October. All Windows 8 users, including mobile ones, get the update on their devices. But, those who are running older versions of the operating system (Vista and 7), you will need to install a clean copy of 8.1 by purchasing a $199.99 Pro installation kit.
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Being a first major system update for the 8 OS, it certainly boasts of new on-board features and critical updates to make you more productive with your PC. For this entry, we’ll list down some of the software enhancements that we’ve found interesting on the new Microsoft system, aside from the resurrection of the Start button.
Different Tile Sizes
Similar to the Windows Phone (WP) 8 mobile operating system, the 8.1 build for Windows PC now includes the ability to rearrange the Live Tiles and customize its size. Right on the Start Screen, you can simply press and hold a Tile (or right click for non-touch screen computers) to drag and to arrange its position. You can also change its default size to appear smaller or much bigger.
For cellular devices, Microsoft is also releasing WP 8.1 “Amber” update that will also enhance its live tiles and notifications system. One of the WP handsets which is confirmed to receive the Amber update is O2’s exclusive Nokia Lumia 1020. Learn more about it at http://www.o2.co.uk.
The Bing search on the new Windows Start Screen now employs an aggregated search system. Instead of just looking for an app, it can now look up from websites, your file folders, and SkyDrive. For instance, if you search for Michael Jackson, it will present you with pictures from the internet, his entire playlist from your music folder(if any), YouTube videos, or any document that you have which mentions his name. Results are presented in an eye-popping interface with photo and video thumbnails, link previews, and an Xbox music player widget.
Although in the past, you can split the screen into two and simultaneously work on two active programs, the 8.1 update includes the ability to split the screen into 70:30, in case you don’t want the 50:50 screen distribution. You can also have multiple windows of the same application (ex. Internet Explorer) snapped together so you can easily switch from one page to another.
In case you have a third active application, it will not be minimized in the taskbar. Instead, it’ll just be hovering over the middle of the screen, waiting for it to be pulled from one side to the other.
Native Support For 3D Printing
Three dimensional printers are emerging nowadays. Upon purchasing these printing machines, you are given with the custom set of software. Microsoft integrated a native support for 3D printing into the 8.1 update. You no longer need to use a dedicated program for each printer. Windows will automatically detect the machine you are using and will let you print the file the way you do with a normal printing machine.
New Internet Explorer 11
The new built-in web browser is reportedly faster than the previous one. Apart from this, you can now enjoy web surfing in full-screen mode with side-by-side tab switching. Microsoft has also optimized the new Internet Explorer for touchscreen devices. A new “read it later” gesture has been added for quick notes, as well as the “tap to share” in the browser for faster sharing of files.
These are some of the useful features that are included with the 8.1 update. Keep in mind that some of them are optimized for touchscreen PCs, and not all machines (particularly your old laptops) are capable of migrating to the new system. So, will you update or will keep your existing Windows edition?