Windows 8.1 Update 1 Coming Sometime this Spring

Well, I’m glad we got THAT cleared up

One of the greatest conferences in the computing world is MWC or Mobile World Congress. It’s held in Barcelona, Spain every year. It’s the kind of conference that makes you want to get your passport updated and ready to be stamped. I’ve never been able to go, and at this rate, it’s doubtful that I will; but if you’re into mobile computing like I am, then it’s something that you pay a lot of attention to if you’re unable to attend. Some really great innovations and products get announced at MWC.

This year, Microsoft is there, and they’re announcing details around the next version of Windows 8.1.  Joe Belfiore, head of phones, tablets and PC’s at the Redmond software giant is there and has currently revealed that the update is coming, “this Spring.”

windows_8

Wow.  Thanks, a lot there, Joe.  Way to be specific.

All kidding aside, the release, currently internally called, “Update 1,” as no real release name has been set EITHER (so, this could be called Update 1, Windows 8.2, or something totally different…), is focusing its updates on making the desktop experience more palatable to mouse and keyboard users. Users should see things like MetroApps with title bars, an easier way to launch and switch to running apps via the Taskbar as well as a new context menu UI.

The biggest improvement, however, is going to be totally behind the scenes. The OS will run on lower-speced machines.  PC makers will be able to put the latest version of Windows 8.x on machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space.  This is going to allow OEM’s to offer tablets and other computing devices running the OS that retail somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 or lower. This is going to go a long way to helping Microsoft compete with lower priced Android tablets that are easy to find in the sub $250 range.  This is an area where Google and its Android operating system have enjoyed a complete monopoly. No OEM has been able to create a tablet with an OS other than Android at that price point or lower.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, that fact has been providing a great deal of heartburn.

If Microsoft can make the newest version of Windows 8.x run on lower speced devices, then it’s very possible that devices like the Dell Latitude 10 ST tablet that I reviewed last year might be able to run with better performance and provide a better overall experience. That would go a long way to making it easier to take to school, to work, or anywhere for that matter.  Windows tablets need a better overall experience.  Even native tablets like Surface Pro/2 Pro will benefit from an OS that runs better on less powerful components. You should expect to see quite the performance boost on existing devices, I would think.

Now, getting back to the “available Spring 2014” thing… Microsoft Build is set to be held in April of this year. Its “largely expected” that Microsoft will announce and release the latest version of Windows 8.x to the world at that time.  My guess is that it should be available right after the opening keynote concludes.

What do you think? Do you think that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be something that’s worthwhile, or is Microsoft bring all of this to the party a year or more too late? I’m still not totally sold on anything related to Windows 8.x’s MetroUI. The “whole” Windows experience needs to be totally revamped.  However, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why don’t you tell me what you think in the comments section below?

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Fast and Fluid Future at Mobile World Congress 2012

The biggest names in the fastest-moving industry gathered for the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, in what has been another eye-opening telecommunications industry event. From 27 February to 1 March, more than 3000 industry CEOs joined 60,000 attendees to see the latest products and ideas from the likes of Microsoft, Google, Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

With tablets and smartphones taking centre stage in recent mobile technology, many of the latest apps and products catered for these users, although mobile and laptop technology is also seeing some major developments.

Microsoft had techy hearts a-flutter with the launch of Windows 8. The company’s two-hour conference presentation featured the phrase “fast and fluid” enough times to drive home their new focus on the latest operating system model. Windows 8 will allow users to access multiple apps at any one time, and, keeping current user trends in mind, is synchronised for social media. Users will also enjoy smoother functionality for both touchscreen and mouse/keyboard.

Meanwhile Nokia had several new mobile phones to showcase, including the Luma 610, an simple, affordable smartphone designed for the youth market. Yet what is really creating a lot of Nokia buzz is their new high-res smartphone, the 808 Pureview. This is the first mobile to take photos at up to an extraordinary 41 megapixels, and cutting-edge Carl Zeiss optics to boot. This is one to lead the way in the evolution of smartphone photography.

Google is making waves with their latest additions to the Android family, despite pressure from their Apple competitors. As well as revealing plans for more affordable smartphone, their Android Honeycomb sees a brand new app for budding movie makers. Movie Studio is a slick app designed to enhance the 3.0 Android’s current video and image technology. Users can create their own short videos, using music, text and other such features, much as you would with other video-editing software. Except this can all be done from your smartphone.

High-definition seems to be the big trend at the moment; LG, HTC and Huawei all have big, high-def mobile screens in their latest releases. Certainly HTC was keen to preview their latest smartphone, the HTC One X. This super-slim mobile is less than 1cm thick and weighs a mere 130 grams. An impressive camera, dual core processor and 4.7inch screen makes it one to watch.

Sony Ericsson revealed their new Xperia Play, a mobile phone/game console hybrid. Despite being one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry this year, it has managed to impress the critics so far. This is an interesting design, yet it does do both the gaming and mobile sides justice. It has a slide-out gaming control pad, much like the Playstation hand control, while the phone itself also features a 5.1 megapixel camera with flash and auto focus, video-recording, Bluetooth, GPS, and the usual mobile features you’d expect from Sony Ericsson.

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