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Windows 8.1 – Microsoft’s minor U-Turn

Windows 8.1 – Microsoft’s minor U-Turn

For those of you running Windows 8, there is a new update from Microsoft which is called Windows 8.1. At the moment, it’s still in ‘Preview’ status, which means that if you’re not prepared to re-load your computer should something go wrong then you probably shouldn’t install it. I’ve taken a look at it for you this week, so you can make a decision if you install it now or wait for general release.

Our own initial impressions

On the day that Windows 8.1 was released, I loaded it onto my laptop so that I could review it for you all. Of course, simple things like an operating system upgrade don’t always run smoothly and this was no exception. In the end, it appears my laptop doesn’t want to support Windows 8.1 – it seemed to hang during reboots of the installation, which then caused the system to automatically roll-back to my previous Windows 8 configuration.

So, the one thing I can say about the Windows 8.1 update is that it seems to handle things well when things go wrong. It could easily have corrupted my machine and stopped it loading, so it was welcome that some robust error handling has been added. I’d still recommend backing everything up before you attempt the upgrade, and also making sure you can afford to be without your computer for a few hours if it all goes amiss!

What does 8.1 bring to the table?

Here are a few of the new features that are added in Windows 8.1 Preview edition:

Start Menu is back

The big headline grabbing change is Microsoft’s U-Turn with the Desktop area of Windows 8.1. There is now a ‘Start’ menu button in the bottom right hand corner, which will be much more familiar for users transitioning from Vista or Windows 7. However, it’s not a true start menu as clicking it just takes you back to the familiar Windows 8 start screen. That seems  bit like  a cop-out, but does show that Microsoft are committed to you using their new start screen whether you like it or not!

Enhanced Search

The search charm now searches Bing as well as the local machine, documents, apps, music and more.  It also presents the search results in a clearer way. Depending on how much you use search on Windows 8, this may be exciting for you. It’s really not for me! I use search predominantly in a web browser session, usually on the desktop.

More eye candy – Lock screen slideshow

This, to me, is more exciting than the search enhancement. The reason being is that the lock screen always seemed a little bit underused or rushed. The fact that you can now have a range of changing photos for the lock screen is a nice touch and makes your computer a bit more personal.

Internet Explorer 11 Preview

If you’re keen to try the newest revision of Microsoft’s web browser, which as an app allows for secure, full-screen browsing, then you may want to try 8.1 Preview as this includes IE 11 Preview edition. However, again I find that most of the time I’m using a browser in the desktop area – it’s just easier than switching windows, and the Internet app doesn’t support flash player or plug-ins, meaning some websites completely fail to work.

Boot To Desktop

This is actually a feature that I’m looking forward too. If, like me, most of your work is still performed in ‘old fashioned’ applications rather than ‘ModernUI’ apps then the ability to boot straight to the desktop cuts out the annoying step of finding & clicking on your desktop tile when you’ve booted up. OK, it’s not that hard, but it’s irritating.

How to install it

If you’re interested in giving 8.1 a go, please visit:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/preview
For the next steps and a guide on what you need to do. Plus you’ll find some more information about some of the features I’ve not mentioned here,

Do let me know how you get on!

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