Windows 8.1 launch – five essential features [video]
Microsoft must have been listening to your complaints about Windows 8. It’s released a brand new Windows 8.1 update to the PC and laptop operating system that’s available as a free upgrade via the Windows Store. Windows 8.1 resurrects the much-loved Start menu and introduces several new features.
Of course, it’s the return of the Start menu that’s of most significance having been unceremoniously removed from Windows 8. Now you’ll be able to shut down your computer with considerably more ease, while the introduction of an aggregated search tool and updates to core apps – such as the Mail and Music apps are well worth noting. Read on to find out more about Windows 8.1.
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Windows 8.1 – 60 second guide
Windows 8.1 – how do I get it?
Wisely, Microsoft has decided to offer Windows 8.1 as a free update to Windows 8 users. You can download it from the official Windows 8 website.
Windows 8.1 – five key features
1) The Start button returns
After the uproar following its exclusion from Windows 8, the Start button is back. You can use it to shut down your computer, as well as linking the All Apps list with it to engineer a makeshift Start Menu. It’s not the same as it was with Windows 7 but it’s a huge improvement in terms of ease of use. If you’re desperate for the full Start Menu of old, read our expert step-by-step guide.
2) Bolstered Bing search
Microsoft has integrated its Bing search engine right into the heart of Windows 8.1 so that it now links your stored files with results from the internet. Most noticeably, it’s introduced a Bing Heroes feature that amalgamates internet articles, photos and video on a particular topic into one handy screen of information. It looks great, although Google users might prefer to keep search restricted to their web browser.
3) Updates to core apps and Windows Store
Microsoft has revamped its core apps as it looks to rollout the Windows 8.1 update, with apps such as Mail and Music seeing changes that Microsoft promise will only improve and streamline the services. Changes to the Windows Store will also improve how the store displays on your PC; while new apps are promised too starting with the release of a dedicated Windows 8.1 Facebook app.
4) Improved snap views
Fancy yourself as a multitasking machine? Windows 8.1 has spruced up its snap viewing options so you can see several applications/programs on screen at the same time. Significantly, a 50:50 split between programs has been introduced where previously only a less convenient 70:30 division was offered.
5) A more customisable experience
Microsoft has clearly made an effort to make Windows 8.1 adapt to whoever’s using it. You can link pictures to its lock screen so a slide show of photos displays when you’re not logged in. The size of Live Tiles can be re-sized further, so that your Start Menu fits in everything you want on first glance. Ideally, this level of customisation would have been available with Windows 8 but its good to see these issues addressed.
Now you’ve seen the headline features in Windows 8.1, we want to know what you think of them. Has Microsoft done a decent job with its operating system update or are you still unimpressed? Let us know in the comments section below.
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