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Windows 8.1 First Impressions

By June 30, 2013

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The Windows 8.1 Preview offers a glimpse a features to come.After much fanfare and anticipation, the Windows 8.1 preview has finally been released to the public. After getting my hands on the ISO I was able to install it and get a first look at some of the major changes. I had very high hopes coming in to this trial and I must say, I'm pretty happy with what I see.

The much maligned user interface got quite a few updates that should please everyone, even desktop users. You now have the option to boot directly to the desktop, there's a Start button and you can opt to turn off the upper hot corners to prevent interference when closing and working with desktop applications.

The Start screen got some love in the form of new customization options. There are now two new tile sizes, you can carry your desktop wallpaper over to the Start screen and you can have the Start screen default to the All Apps view.

With the exception of the Start button, most of these new interface tweaks have to be enabled before you can test them out. Check out the Navigation tab of the desktop taskbar properties to get started.

Lesser known, but still spiffy features include enhanced PC settings, a Bing infused Search charm that displays multimedia results from the Internet, better SkyDrive integration and even a Help and How-to app (which should have been there from Day 1).

All told, the complete package is pretty impressive. There's a lot to look at, and the more I find the more impressed I am. It's clear that Microsoft has heard a lot of the complaints since Windows 8's release and is at least trying to fix a few.

While I understand that many users will be disappointed (to put it lightly) that the Start button is simply a visual cue to get to the Start screen, I think even the most die-hard 8-haters will find features to love. Switch the Start screen default to All Apps, kill the app switcher and top-right Charms bar activation and Windows 8.1 feels a lot more like Windows 7.

If you're unhappy with Windows 8, I encourage you to give Windows 8.1 a try, just don't install it over your primary installation or you'll lose your apps. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Image above used with permission from Microsoft.

Comments
July 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm
(1) mike ehling says:

>> just don’t install it over your primary installation or you’ll lose your apps.

That’s just great. You’re telling us that Ballmer dimwit has some kind of installation set-up where users have to worry about losing their applications. Score another for Microsoft’s stupidity.

November 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm
(2) brian says:

I absolutely hate windows 8, it is so distracting and is likened to a lemon auto that keeps the problematic disruptive malfunction going and going and just wont stop with pop up screens and blanking out screens still in use for no apparent prompt from user ! it is far from perfected and I beg for vista or 7 to be downloaded onto my new dell instead, but I was told it could crash the hard drive in a few weeks after its been done.. so.. here I am, stuck against my will with windows 8 ! I do not go a day without colorful language using broken windows 8.

November 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm
(3) brian says:

bring back vista or even 7 ! broken windows 8 absolutely sucks !!!
you force people to use this F’king lemon of a program..
send those indian and Asians back to the and where they come from, pay americans properly and fix this damn program !
Microsoft in Washington state city of Bellevue, is where hate mail should be sent..

February 5, 2014 at 1:58 am
(4) Sean Kelly says:

Windows 8 would have to be the most stupid, user unfriendly system ever conceived – let alone sold.

So windows 8.1 is the solution – the base Windows 8 is so flawed it is simply not fixable.

Get the idiots who devised this system and kick their arses till their noses bleed – just disgusting.

I pray your shares go through the floor and shake you into never making such an amazing cock-up again.

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