Windows 8.1 is now official with bunch of new features and minor visual changes. Microsoft had released windows 8 last year and now we are taking a sneak peek at next version of Windows. But why so early ? What is the need of this update ? and how it is different from other updates ? Well, I would say this update is neat and this kind of incremental updates strategy should have adopted by company years ago. This works pretty much like what apple has been doing with Mac OSX. It will definitely offer much more than service pack updates, but it may not be free. This is just because it provides more than usual bug fixes and stability updates. So lets see what Windows 8.1 will bring to the user’s desk.
What’s new in Windows 8.1
System requirements for Windows 8.1
- Processor (CPU): 1 GHz or Higher.
- RAM: 1 GB for 32-bit version or 2 GB for 64-bit version.
- Free HDD space: 16 GB for the 32-bit version or 20 GB for 64-bit version.
- Graphics: the graphics device Microsoft DirectX 9 or later.
- Developer: Microsoft Corporation
Lockscreen With Pictures
Windows 8 has already got a feature to set picture password but Windows 8.1 takes it ahead and brings a lockscreen that can be turned into a picture frame by taking images from local storage or SkyDrive. It will be capable of taking pictures from the camera without having to log into the device.
The Return of Start Button
As expected, the Start button will return with Windows 8.1. The functionality of this button will be same with some minor change to the to adopt modern UI. This is actually just a visual treatment to complete the demand of users who have been demanding traditional start button.
Start button will be visible on the desktop only and in the live tile interface it will appear when mouse is moved to the bottom-left corner of the screen.
Custom Wallpaper for Start Screen
Now users will be able to set custom background to start screen. Windows 8 has some limited images and color customization which will be extended to the next level.
Booting to preffered Screen
Windows 8.1 will provide the ability to boot straight to the desktop. No more restrictions to boot to Start screen which was present in Windows 8 (and criticized by majority of users). Also, the OS can directly booted to Apps view as stated by Antoine Leblond,corporate VP of the Windows program management:
For example, if you prefer to see the Apps view versus all the tiles, you can choose to have the Start screen go directly to Apps view.
Windows 8.1 will bring some useful features in Search. It will provide global search results powered by Bing. It is now much more rich, simple and collective view of many sources like the web, apps, files, SkyDrive, etc (Much like Ubuntu Unity).
The search app will also have Quick actions which include things you would want to do like play a song or video.
The settings have been updated extensively in Windows 8.1. Users will now be able to access all the settings on the device without having to go to the control panel on the desktop. New improved settings will allow users to change display resolution, set your power options, see the make and model of your PC, change the product key, let you run windows update, and even join a domain. It will also contain information about SkyDrive from PC Settings as well. It will display information about how much available storage you have.
Apps and Redesigned Windows Store
Microsoft is improving all built-in apps that comes pre-installed with Windows 8 for Windows 8.1. The photos app will now come with new editing features. The Music app has been completely redesigned for ease and usability. Windows 8.1 will run multiple apps at once with more ease and flexibility with variable, continuous size of snap views. That means users will now have more ways to see multiple apps on the screen at the same time.
Windows Store has been redesigned in Windows 8.1 to show more info. It provides detailed lists of top free apps, new releases, and picks on the homepage. New app listing will provide more description and information with area for related apps to help with app discovery. App updates will be now installed automatically in the background.
Pricing for Windows 8.1 not announced yet, but most probably it will cost you around $30. But it is an estimate and there are no proper details.