Windows 8.1 Debuts at Build

Microsoft releases the publicly accessible Windows 8.1 (formerly, Blue) Preview today at BUILD.

The long anticipated Public Preview of Windows 8.1, formerly code-named Windows Blue, should now be available for download via the Windows Store on Windows 8 devices.

There are a number of new and updated features that are available with the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship, touch centric operating system. I’ll have a breakdown of what’s new and improved for Soft32 in the coming weeks. However, if you do decide to install this on your Windows 8 PC, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

 

 

The software is available via the Windows Store.

Microsoft users are used to going to Windows Update for these types of things – Service Packs, upgrades and updates – that isn’t the case here. You’re going to get it from the Windows Store, as you have with all of your ModernUI apps.

Upgrade Now, Rebuild Later

One of the most impactful issues with the Public Preview is the fact that Microsoft is going to make you effectively blow your PC and install Windows 8.1 Golden Master from scratch. While you will be able to install the Preview without having to reinstall of your existing software and apps, you won’t be able to upgrade over the Preview to the Released version of the software.

This is largely due to the way both ModernUI and 3rd party software is installed and maintained on your PC, as well as Microsoft wanting to start with as clean a Registry as possible. While it sucks from an activation and registration perspective, your PC will be lemony fresh.

HOWEVER, if you DON’T install the Preview and you wait to install Windows 8.1, you WILL be able to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1…so go figure.

Don’t Download over Mobile Broadband

Just an FYI, if you rely on your smartphone or other mobile broadband device to be your main internet connection, you don’t want to download and install Windows 8.1 via mobile broadband. Go to your local Starbucks, McDonalds or other trusted public Wi-Fi location of choice. Windows 8.1 is going to be heavy, and you’re going to have a better install experience and lighter cell bill if you do this via wired or wireless LAN.

Again, please watch Soft32 for a breakdown of the new OS in the coming weeks. I have some installing and updating to do on at least 2 PC’s…

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Will Microsoft do a Redo with Windows Blue?

New rumors are circulating indicating that Microsoft is trying to win you back with Windows Blue…

It’s true I’m not Windows 8 fan. However since my Dell Latitude 10 ST2 tablet run Windows 8 and is a Surface Pro competitor, I’m at least interested in the future of the platform and what Windows 8.1 – more commonly known as Windows Blue – will bring to the table. From what I understand, there’s good news and bad news.

First the bad news – Microsoft isn’t giving up on ModernUI in Windows 8. Windows RT, even though it has Desktop Mode doesn’t run legacy Windows apps, so it can be confusing. WinRT is NOT the Windows you’re used to.

I saw an interesting article by my friend, Preston Gralla. If Preston is right with his speculation, then MS is going to do a bit of rethinking with Windows Blue and will let users boot directly to the Windows Desktop. However, Preston doesn’t think it will happen.

WinBlue

My other friend, MaryJo Foley, is further speculating that not only is Microsoft considering allowing users to boot directly to the Desktop, they are considering bring back the Start Button as well. While both of these design elements were removed from Windows 8 and were NOT part of the original Windows 8.1 feature set, according to MJF, “these two UI options are looking more likely.”

MJF makes it very clear – nothing is certain, but at least Microsoft is looking at this as a very real option. The next milestone leak or the public preview in June will tell the tale. We’re really just going to have to wait and see, as until the software is in the can, anything and everything can change.

I am stuck in the middle. I’m not entirely certain that MS will relent and have the options built into Blue to bring back the Start Button or allow users to boot directly to the desktop. However, I really think they should do it. If they don’t, I see Microsoft having continued issues with Windows 8 adoption. Unfortunately, that’s something that they really don’t need right now, and the absolutely need to address.

As always, time with tell the tale. In the meantime, if you must have this functionality now, you can always check out my review of Start8 here on Soft32 and install it. It brings back the Start Button and allows you to boot Windows 8 directly to the Desktop.

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