Windows 8.1 (Blue) Features Revealed

Here’s a quick rundown of what Windows 8.1 will bring to the table, and what Microsoft hopes will result from it.

I’ve been looking at Windows tablets for the past year or so, a little harder than I originally thought I would. I have an iPad 1. My daughter has an iPad 2. My wife has a Kindle Fire, and my son-in-law and two boys has Android tablets. I also recently reviewed a Dell Latitude 10 ST2 for Soft32. You can see the review here.

The Dell is good, but its performance isn’t great. I’ve recently (finally) gotten my hands on a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet as well. The difference in performance is night and day above the Dell. I’ll have some thoughts on the differences between the two in another post.

The big question, though is how Windows 8 works with both; and more importantly, what Windows Blue, officially branded as Windows 8.1 bring to the table to improve the experience on both. Microsoft has officially announced the features of Windows 8.1. Here’s a quick rundown of what they are.

windows-blue

The Start Button Returns
In short, we get the button but not the menu. Simply getting the button back, isn’t EXACTLY what most Windows veterans, especially enterprise users, were looking for. The new Windows 8 Start Menu leaves a lot to be desired at the office. Kids, when we asked for the Button back, we really meant the Menu. The Windows 8 Start Menu and Tiles don’t translate well on the desktop, even on a PC with touch built in like Surface Pro or the Latitude 10 ST2.

Start Menu Filtering
Newly installed apps won’t just get tiled on your Windows 8 Start Menu. They’ll now appear under a “New” filter in All Apps View. You can pin them to the Start Screen if you want, from there.

Boot to Desktop
The one big thing that most Windows vets will appreciate is the ability to bypass the Windows 8 Start Menu and boot directly to the desktop. Current rumor also indicates that you can boot not only to the Start Menu or Desktop but other locations as well, including All Apps View.

Interface Enhancements
You’re going to be able to carry your desktop background over to ModernUI apps. You’ll also see new colors, and backgrounds, including animated elements. Your lock screen can also be configured to run a slide show.

Windowing Enhancements
Microsoft is updating how Snap Views work. You will be able to resize snapped apps to any ratio you like, and can snap up to three (3) apps side-by-side. You can also open more than one instance of the same app and snap it side-by-side.

Settings Update
Settings is getting a decent number of tweaks to help unify and streamline the Windows 8 interface. More settings will be coming over to the ModernUI side of the fence so you won’t swap back and forth between ModernUI and the Desktop as much.

As soon as Windows 8.1 hits the streets, I should be able to install it on the Surface Pro I have. I’ll have a full rundown on it vs. the original release of Windows 8 for Soft32 as soon as its available.

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