Everything You Need To Know About Windows 8.1

With the release of Windows 8, or Windows Blue as many call it, there were huge improvements and some other aspects that had users scratching their heads. Well, 8.1 looks to build off what works well, and call “Do-Over” on what didn’t. That’s what ‘dot’ releases are for, right?

So, here are some things that you can expect in the new Windows 8.1 release. The developers are making the interface more easy to use, adding new features, and adding support for smaller screen devices. The great thing about these upgrades is that they cost nothing.

User Interface

Start Button: Microsoft removed the start button from the first release of Windows 8 and you would have thought they were ending the world. They now realize that the functionality built behind the start button is mandatory for most users and it is coming back. Users will also be able to set their default screen to the “All Apps” screen which should appease many who utilize the start button pop-up.

New Live Tiles: Windows 8 originally only came with the two preset tile sizes. The large and small. Which allowed users to select larger tiles for features they used more often or smaller tiles for those that aren’t quite as important. Or if you had your facebook feed imported directly to your start screen you could use the large tile to display the first few messages. That was nice, but now they are taking it a step further. You can now use even a smaller tile which will fit four tiles into the same space as the initial small tile. This should calm some of the masses who complain that the start screen doesn’t offer a folder system.

Downloaded Apps No Longer Instantly Pin To Start Screen: No more will every app downloaded automatically pin itself to the start screen. You will have that option after download. This will inevitably end up with a much cleaner start screen for the average user.

All Apps Gesture: Finally, a simple gesture will show you all the apps installed on your machine. A simple swipe up and your there.

Auto Updates: Windows 8.1 will now automatically update your apps overnight while your sleeping.

Boot To Desktop: Windows 8.1 now saves you the click it takes to load the desktop version. You can change this in your settings.

More Colors & Textures: The updated OS will offer many new color schemes for your environment and will also support textures as well.

Desktop Background Image On Start: You can now match your start screen background with your desktop environment background. While it seems small, it makes a difference to some users.

New Features

Global Search: Windows 8.1 welcomes you to the omnibox experience on the new release. The global search function is one of the most used functions of any OS and you will now have access to it on your Windows machine, again. The search “Hero” will replace the Bing app.

Snap Display: This allows you to run two apps simultaneously on the same screen. One app will take up 25% of the screen while the other utilizes the other 75%. You can also snap more than two apps and run multiples on the same screen.

Better Support For Multiple Monitors: The new Settings app allows you to manually set the resolution of secondary monitors if you wish.

Reading List: In any app with content (including IE), users will now be able to save that content ‘offline’ so they can read it at their leisure, without an internet connection.

IE Improvements: IE in Windows 8.1 supports endless tabs. Also, you can make live tiles out of your favorite websites.

Active Lock Screen: The lock screen supports an intelligent slide show so it can do cool stuff like display photos on your device from exactly one year ago and make Skype calls without unlocking the device.

App Syncing Across Devices: When you log into a second Windows 8.1 device, the same apps you have on one device will automatically download and sync to the other device.

Photo Editing: The photos app gets basic photo editing in Windows 8.1.

New Microsoft Apps: Windows 8.1 introduces new Microsoft apps including a Calculator, alarm, food & drink, and health & fitness.

Apps Enhancements: the Xbox-branded apps for music, video and games all introduce new features that bring you to the content you interact with most often.

Small Screen Support

Microsoft knows and is willing to admit that it completely missed the mark when it came to small screen tablets, which have really become the more popular devices over the last two years. The issues that caused display problems on these devices have been addressed in the new Windows 8.1 release.

All screenshots courtesy of Mashable.com