Let’s talk Windows – 5 new features of Windows 8.1

October 26, 2012 was a big day for the folks at Microsoft. It was the date of official general availability for it’s latest and greatest Operating system…That is, at least until October 17th of 2013 roles around. And that’s when the first major update to the Microsoft OS goes public for digital download. Windows 8.1.

But let’s be honest, no one usually cares about updates. That is, unless you fall into a small category of people experiencing some specific issue that a specific update addresses. However, Windows 8.1 is a whole different beast all together, at least as far as updates are concerned. The hard work and dedication of the Microsoft team coupled with the generous feedback from Windows 8 users has brought us a plethora of new features and tweaks that Microsoft hopes will be enough to satiate a somewhat unhappy group of early adopters. But is Windows 8.1 enough of an update to really get Microsoft anywhere? Let’s look at 5 new features of Windows 8.1 and find out. Now this is hardly a full or complete list, but just a few of my favorites, and ones I think our faithful ClipTraining users and readers will find of benefit in their daily lives.

1. Boot Straight to Desktop in Windows 8.1

What?? Could it be so? Yes, the rumors are true. In Windows 8.1 you will now have the ability to boot straight to the desktop view, without and hacks or tricks involved. This is a simple one, but is sure to please many Windows 8 users who either 1, don’t have a touch screen and don’t see the benefit of live tiles, or 2, just don’t really like live tiles. At least now you have the ability to bypass the tiles (at least on startup) and boot straight into the desktop mode. 1 point Windows 8.1, 0 points Windows 8.

And speaking of giving us back what we once had, we move onto feature #2.

2. The Return of the Start Button in Windows 8.1

Ok ok, now before you start throwing a party, I must warn you, it’s not really the start button we all remember. It’s a quick and easy way to get from the desktop back to the live tiles modern UI screen found in Windows 8. However, if you were to right click on that “start” button, you would be greeted by the menu below.

As you can see, a nice and simplified menu for commonly accessed controls. Not bad, but not enough for some users. And for those users, we have something special. Just for you. If you really want the windows start button to make a return, you can check out this report on doing just that. Don’t forget, ClipTraining has you covered, my friends.

3. Updated and Enhanced Windows Store in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 brought a radical change for Windows users in the form of an “app store” so to speak, akin to Apple’s Mac App Store. However, a lackluster response from both developers and users brought Microsoft’s attention onto

the humble store, and a redesign was in store. Instead of having to guess what the featured apps at the front of the Store do, which we all know would be too much of a hassle, and bad for developers, it will flip through images and descriptions of each of the six featured apps on the front page. Of course you can just swipe down if you don’t want to wait for it to turn on it’s own. You can check out the screen shot below for a closer look, but I’ll just say it’s much more functional, much easier to look at, and I think developers and users alike will appreciate the changes. Win win, right?

4. Unified Search Function in Windows 8.1

One thing I particularly fell in love with when Apple first introduced it, was the “spotlight feature”. Being able to search your entire computer for anything in one spot in a nice and organized manner was like a godsend. However, now, local content is not enough. We want to search web content as well. Spotlight adapted, and so has Windows 8.1. And boy is it nice. A quick look at Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 preview page, and we see the following. “A single search now brings you results from your PC, your apps, and the web. See results in a clean, graphic view that lets you take immediate action and launch apps. Search, click, do. Find a song and start playing it, or find a video and watch it right away. Powered by Bing.” I like that sound of that. Screenshot below for your viewing pleasure!

5. Personalization Options in Windows 8.1

Neat freaks and particularly partial graphic designers, rejoice! Windows 8.1 will allow us to do things like set up a slide show on your lock screen by picking your favorite pictures. Or we could arrange everything on your Start screen just the way we want it, even changing the tile sizes. You can even choose from more colors, and  backgrounds—including animated backgrounds. Again, screenshot below. You’re getting the hang of it, aren’t you?

Now, we have by no means shown you every single feature new to Windows 8.1, but we did get you just itching for more! October 17, October 17, keep telling yourself. Not to mention, you’ll be hearing from us a lot in the coming weeks and months with in depth videos and articles on how to use Windows 8.1. And every week we’ll have a new edition of Let’s talk Windows. Until then, adios, amigos and amigas, I have a Windows 8.1 beta start screen to customize…

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 6:00 am

Categories: CT Insights, Uncategorized, Windows 8
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