Computers

Windows 8.1 features demoed in new Microsoft video

Windows 8.1 features demoed in...
The lock screen in Windows 8.1
The lock screen in Windows 8.1
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The lock screen in Windows 8.1
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The lock screen in Windows 8.1
The Windows 8.1 start screen features more tile sizes
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The Windows 8.1 start screen features more tile sizes
The new start screen also comes with new visual effects
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The new start screen also comes with new visual effects
Windows search now brings up results from images and many other sources
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Windows search now brings up results from images and many other sources
Windows search is now curated with hero images and results
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Windows search is now curated with hero images and results
Windows 8.1 features improved multitasking
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Windows 8.1 features improved multitasking
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In the seven months since Windows 8 was introduced, it's seen its share of criticism, leaving many craving an update to Microsoft's first touch-based desktop OS. Now the company has officially responded to many concerns with the announcement of Windows 8.1, the first major point update to Windows 8. A preview version will be available towards the end of this month, and Microsoft's Jensen Harris showed off some of the new Windows 8.1 features in the video embedded below.

None of the new features and tweaks on display here are particularly revolutionary, and there's no mention of bringing back the "Start" button that so many Windows 8 users miss from Windows 7 and earlier versions.

Instead, Harris runs us through a number of iterative changes like a new lock screen that displays some of your photos, revamped start screen with new tile sizes and easier access to the "all apps" screen.

There's also some new eye candy in Windows 8.1, with the introduction of "motion accents," which are basically animated backgrounds on the start screen that respond to screen touches and scrolling.

Perhaps the most compelling and useful new Windows 8.1 features shown here are improvements in multitasking, like being able to view and edit a photo right alongside Outlook, and a completely redesigned search feature.

The new Windows search presents results curated from multiple sources, both local and in the cloud, such as apps, files, images, actions and web results. It's a highly visual experience that highlights selected "hero" results, but we only see search results for queries on "Atlanta" and "Marilyn Monroe" in the video, leaving me to wonder if the experience would be nearly as pretty for more esoteric searches.

You can see all the Windows 8.1 features I've mentioned in action below. The Windows 8.1 preview is scheduled to become available on June 26.

First look at Windows 8.1

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5 comments
Fahrenheit 451
I've been an Apple user for twenty-nine years, but I do like the Windows 8.x OS. I'm not much for the pre-8 Oses, but definitely like and enjoy what I've seen and used in the 8 series. Looking to purchase my first PC machine since DOS, and close to finalizing my choice as the new machines hit the market.
Facebook User
Seems like the Start button is back. In the video at 2:12 you can see it in the bottom left of the desktop screen.
c w
Well, if that doesn't look like a WindowsPhone lock screen turned sideways....
JC
It is now clear that Microsoft is really deaf, blind and dumb. I do NOT use touch screen or apps. If they keep this going, eventually i will have to abandon Windows.
warren52nz
I don't know about touchscreens. If your screen is in front of you as they are on most PC's, I see a whole new type of RSI coming up. Imagine reaching forward all day long at work! I guess what it really means is our screens will be lying on a table face up from now on. I think they should leapfrog from keyboards directly to Voice Recognition, it's long overdue. My Samsung Galaxy is truly superb at VR and about half the stuff I do on it is done by voice alone. They need to have 2 microphones to discriminate which direction sound is coming from so they can ignore unwanted noise (as our brains do). Until then VR will be restricted to quiet places.