Hidden and removed features in Windows 8.1

The release of Windows 8.1 was met with many cheers from all of the users who were unhappy with the Windows 8 release.    Windows 8.1 came with some really useful upgrades (can you say almost a start button) however there were some features that were removed to make room for these various upgrades.  What features are now missing and are they features the average windows end-user will miss?

One of the first things we noticed was missing was the Windows Experience Index.  This was first introduced in Windows Vista back in 2007 as a quick way to determine your overall hardware performance on your PC and to see if a software application would run on said PC.  Was it actually ever useful?  Its hard to say.  Most third party software makers continued to use hardware requirement labels on their products, so most consumers probably never got much use from this feature anyhow or ever remembered to use if before installing extra software.  The Windows Experience Index was actually removed for the Windows RT version that was released in October, 2012, but was kept in the Windows 8 version.  For Windows 8.1 it was removed entirely.

Another feature that appears to be missing from Windows 8.1 is the Windows 7 Backup and System Image Recovery.  Originally Microsoft did have it included in the Windows 8 release (called Windows 7 File Recovery), but hid it from the Windows 8.1 release.  Everyone says it was removed but this is not accurate.  J. Peter Bruzzese reported on this in InfoWorld’s article “Solving the mystery of Windows 8.1’s missing features“.  As J. Peter brings out, you can find the image tools through the File History tool.  It has been deprecated, which is Microsoft’s way of saying “it’s days are numbered” .

If you are a fan of Instant Messaging while using your PC, the removal of the Messaging App and Facebook Chat might be a little more noticeable to you.  This App (which was originally part of the communication suite released on Windows 8) previously allowed its users to chat on Windows Live Messenger and Facebook.  Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 and they really want you to use it for messaging now.  They have even integrated ways for you to talk to your Facebook friends on Skype for Windows Desktop.  You just have to sync your Facebook account with your Skype account.  Sounds easy enough right?    Microsoft is also letting us know that  you can also use Skype side by side with two or more apps so that it makes it easier to switch to other things like browsing the web, listening to music, or playing games—I mean, while you are at work. 

Libraries was introduced in Windows 7  to make it easier to find, work with and organize files that are scattered around your PC or your network.  The hope was that it would make you more productive because you would spend less time trying to locate files.  This was one of the best upgrades to Windows 7 and got great reviews.   Now, don’t get too concerned that Microsoft removed this feature in Windows 8.1 for good because they didn’t.  Its just a master of playing the game hide-and-seek.  The Libraries no longer appears by default in your File Explorer App.  Why?  We have no idea.  But have no fear, this is how you can restore it. 

1. Open File Explorer. You can do this in Desktop mode by clicking the File Explorer icon in the taskbar, or in the Start Screen by typing file and then clicking File Explorer.

2. Click the View tab.

3. Click the Navigation pane button (left side of the toolbar), and then click Show libraries.

Easy, right?  This is a feature that should be set at default, but evidently Microsoft thinks they know better than the consumer, right?

Another feature Windows 8.1 felt the need to change was the photos app.  Now on the one hand, the app picks up some decent photo editing functionality. On the other, it’s lost the online service integration (with Facebook and Flickr) that made the original version of the app interesting.  I guess Microsoft thinks that you only want to be able to edit the photos that you keep stored on your PC, not ones you have stored on your other devices.

Are these changes a deal breaker for upgrading to Windows 8.1?  I doubt it. They weren’t for me anyhow.  In the grand scheme of the PC world, these are minor changes.  Moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8 was much bigger of a change to get used to.  The changes discussed here were minor and if you are new to Windows 8 or 8.1, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make the switch.  And think of this, if you upgrade and you find things you don’t like.  You can always let Microsoft know.  How will they truly know what their customers want unless we let them know.  

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Categories: Windows 8

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