Windows 8.1 released… Major update or just a service pack…??!!

Microsoft announced it’s not much awaited update to Windows 8.1. Microsoft have been on a bumpy ride since some time. They brought Windows vista, which was much criticized, they learned from it and gave windows 7, which was much appreciated and got great response, then created Windows 8 hoping to take on the challenge given by the likes of Apple and android. Windows 8 came to PCs, laptops, tablets, and phones as well. But it failed to impress the users as well as the critics. While the windows 8 worked great on touch screen devices like cell phones and tablets, it was not quite user friendly for the PC’s.

Windows 8 was not all that bad, alright!! Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

Windows 8 was not all that bad, alright!!
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

What’s New?
Windows 8.1 is more like a minor update and a major service pack! Microsoft has added a few features that make it a bit more user friendly to keyboard-and-mouse Windows desktop users.

• Start menu Returns!
As mentioned above, the lack of start button which was located on the lower left corner in the previous operating systems, was not very much appreciated. So Microsoft brought the Start button in this update. But unlike the previous start button, which when clicked gave a pop up menu for the applications which are used most, this start button when clicked, brings up the start screen where you can type a the names of the applications you want to open. It also gives the option to shutdown or restart. A feature which was accessed by mousing to the top-right corner of the screen, dragging downward, clicking Settings, clicking Power, then clicking Shutdown or Restart(phew!). Its not a major change, but this would be appreciated by the users who wanted to shut down their pc’s in a few clicks!

Start Menu returns!

Start Menu returns!

• Booting back to desktop
The ability to jump back to desktop was missing in the previous windows 8, which was quite frustrating for the users(I use it all the time on my XP). Microsoft probably understood that windows 8 was not so ideal for the mouse and keyboard setups because in this update they also included the feature of booting back to the desktop.

• New and better lock screen
If you are jealous of your friends who have beautiful lock screens on their android tabs, then windows 8.1 update might be the one. Users now can add slide show of pictures they would like to have on their lock screens, or you can add new live background. You can also use the camera straight away without unlocking their devices(reminds of  android!)

Customization enabled lock screen.

Customization enabled lock screen.

• Search gets an update
Now the search can not only look in your computer for what you are searching but it could also look for global results from the web, the xbox music or the skydrive. Say I want to search for Emma Watson, the search will display a “Hero Screen”, where you’ll get the movies, songs and other related results not only from the your PC, laptop or tab, but also from the web.

New HeroScreen for search

  New HeroScreen for search

 

Screenshot-26-730x410

 

• Multitasking
Multitasking was already possible in Windows 8. But now the user can use up to 4 applications running, with the option to change the size of applications. Now if you want to search from something from Wikipedia, you can do it while being on facebook. Need to focus on the article you’re reading? Increase the size of wiki and decrease the size of facebook. Pretty good update for the students who wants to use facebook whilst searching for their homework at the same time.

Multitasking- Do more!

Multitasking- Do more!

• Fingerprint Security
Do you have friends or younger cousins or just some mighty curious person, who peek every time into your tab when left alone? If yes, then 8.1 has a feature which you’ll probably need. Windows 8.1 has biometric authentication available. So you and only you will be able to access your device(unless someone cuts your finger!)

For the curious georges all across!!

For the curious georges all across!!

All said and done, are these features enough? According to me these features should have been given to the users on the first place. Yes, they will improve the user experience but to call it a major update, I am not sure. Let’s call it a service pack which gets rid of bugs and glitches and adds some new much needed features.

 

You can download the official preview of windows 8.1 from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/preview-download

 

Here are all system requirements for Windows 8.1 Preview, as they have been provided by Microsoft:

Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
Free hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
Graphics card: MicrosoftDirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

As far as Windows RT is concerned, the Windows 8.1 Preview update requires 10 GB of free storage space.

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