Windows 8.1: What can we all expect to see in?

On Thursday, Microsoft revealed additional details about what changes are in store. Microsoft's blog post about Windows 8.1 mentioned that it would release new in-house developed apps for Windows 8.1 but didn't go into much detail.

Though the public preview of the update won’t be released until June 26, which coincides with the company’s BUILD conference, Microsoft let us in on a few of Windows 8.1's new features. Here are some of the improvements to Windows 8 you can look forward to.

Start Button: Among the many improvements coming to Windows 8 is the Start button, but this isn’t your classic Windows Start Menu. This Start button appears whenever you remain your mouse cursor over the button in the left-hand corner and stays in your taskbar when you’re in Desktop mode.

Personalization: You can now set a personalized Start screen background as well as change the size of the tiles - either large or small - depending on your wants. Just like on Windows Phone 8, you can also rearrange the tiles to your liking.

Additional background colors are also present, along with new background images, and the lock screen can use your desktop wallpaper or, alternately, be set to a slideshow of images. The lock screen will also allow you to take a picture directly, which is likely more for tablets and smartphones. 

The Start Screen now has the ability to filter by date installed, name, most used, and category—or you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get the “all apps” view. And as a final option in the customization arena, you can configure Windows to boot to something other than the Start Screen now, including the desktop

Global Search: Searching for something on your Windows 8.1 machine will be much easier. When you use the search tool in your Charm menu, Bing will be pulling relevant sources from the Web (including files stored on SkyDrive, images, and websites), as well as what it can find locally on your computer, to give you the best answer to your query. 

Apps and Windows Store: Windows 8.1 is billed to improve on this with variable, continuous size of snap views. Users will have more ways to see and interact with multiple apps on the screen at any given time. Apps can be resized to any size, share the screen between two apps or have three apps opened up on multiple displays. 

The new store app is designed to display more information than what's currently shown in Windows 8. This extra information includes detailed lists of top free apps, new releases and personalised picks on the homepage.

Cloud connectivity: The SkyDrive app has been revamped in Windows 8.1 and access to files that are stored either on the cloud or locally on the device is more convenient, as well as providing offline access. As an added bonus, when a consumer logs on to a Windows 8.1 device with a Microsoft account, all personal details, configurations and apps are all pulled down from the cloud. This makes transferring from one device to another real simple.

PC Settings: The PC Settings screen on the other hand will provide improved access to all of your settings—no more going to the desktop Control Panel is apparently the goal. Among other items, PC Settings will let you change your display resolution, power options, run Windows Update, join a domain, and manage your SkyDrive settings. 

IE Improvements: IE in Windows 8.1 supports unlimited tabs. Also, your open tabs will sync across devices, and you can make live tiles out of websites — real live tiles, with updating content — as long as the developer has included them.

Keyboard and Mouse: One other common gripe is also getting addressed in Windows 8.1. Antoine Leblond promised “better keyboard and mouse options,” which, if actually delivered, will help quiet Windows 8 critics who criticized the touch-first design.

Microsoft did not comment further on when this future version will be released, but with Windows 8.1 set to be released at the end of the year it will probably be after this.


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