Windows 8.1 gets previewed; includes Start Button, Global Search, IE 11

Microsoft has given a preview of the features of Windows 8.1 prior to its official unveiling during the BUILD conference for programmers in San Francisco on June 26.


Plans for the revamp had been announced earlier this month, but no details had been given during such time.

According to Microsoft’s official blog post on the matter, Windows 8 was a response to the changing PC landscape due to the rising mobility. Around seven months after Windows 8 was introduced, however, Microsoft decided to make changes to the operating system, taking into account user feedback.

The Redmond, Wash. company clarified, as well, that it will be providing Windows 8.1 as a free update to Windows 8.

 Start Button

One of the most notable changes is return of the Start button. The Start button is a feature which had appeared on all versions of Windows since 1995, but was removed in Windows 8. Its deletion gave rise to many complaints from users, but Microsoft defended its decision by saying that there was no need for the Start button because of the new startup screen.

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft brings back the Start button, which appears in the left-hand corner of the screen.

It is important to note that the revival of the Start button does not restore the Start Menu. Clicking on the Start button simply directs users to the tiled startup screen.

 Global search

In Windows 8.1, searching using the Charm menu is much more extensive. It aggregates content from various sources to provide the best results. Among these sources are one’s local files on the computer, websites, Skydrive, and apps.

Lock screen picture slideshow

Windows 8.1 allows users to display a slideshow of photos on the Lock Screen. Such photos may be from one’s local files or in SkyDrive.

Microsoft also added a shortcut to taking pictures directly from the Lock Screen without needing to log in.

 Start screen personalization

Users of Windows 8.1 are given more control over what colors and backgrounds they can use in the Start Screen. Even dynamic images are now permitted to be set as backgrounds.

Microsoft also provides a range of tile sizes for easier organization and customization.

Filtering apps by their date of installation, name, or category has also been made possible.

 Improved apps

Microsoft is introducing enhancements to built-in apps. For one, the Photos app, now comes with new editing functionalities. The Music app has also been tweaked to make music file selection and playing easier.

 Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft claims that Internet Explorer 11 is the sole browser created for touch. To ensure this, Microsoft says that it has improved touch performance as well as page loading speed. Moreover, it now allows users to show the address bar instead of automatically hiding it. Opening any number of tabs has also been made possible.


Windows 8.1 permits users to save files right into Skydrive, allowing them access over such files anywhere. In Skydrive, users have access to local or online files, and remain to have access to these even when they are not connected to the Internet.

Microsoft promises to give more information regarding Windows 8.1 through its official blog in the coming weeks leading to the BUILD conference.

via microsoft

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