Windows 8.1 preview, features, release date and installation guide

Read all latest features of Windows 8.1, know where to install the Windows 8.1 preview and also the final update. Learn what all new Microsoft is introducing in its Windows 8.1 update.

New about the update to Windows 8 are arriving like hot cakes. What was earlier known as Windows Blue is now being referred to as Windows 8.1.

Preview Windows 8.1

Right now the news is that the preview version will be available from 26th of June this year from the Windows Store.

You can download Windows 8.1 or Blue update from

However, some early reports directly from Microsoft executives report that the preview version installation will lead to the removal of all your Windows 8 touch and desktop apps. User data and account data will remain safe as per information. Users will be required to do the full installation of Windows 8.1 in any case when the update is available which is expected around the end of autumn.

So, our recommendation is that unless you are annoyed by Windows 8 and are planning to replace that in any case, feel free to try out the Preview of Windows 8.1 but if you have a stable system where you are enjoying your work with Windows 8 and its app then we would suggest not trying out the preview on your system.

Windows 8.1 OS update

Microsoft's Antoine Leblond posted a blog recently talking about the first look of the OS. According to it though there is no start button unlike the rumors which said so, it rather has a familiar start Windows logo which will be in place of the start "tip". We are not entirely clear as to what that is but considering is not a "button" we should not expect much of a change. "The new tip appears anytime you move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen, and is always visible on the taskbar when on the desktop," says Leblond.

Here are the major visible updates that we get from the blog post:
  1. Customized lock screen: Leblond said that according to the feedback they collected, they found that many people were using their lockscreens to show pictures of their families. So, as an upgrade they have made it possible to set the lock screen as a slideshow which can show pictures from the local storage or even from SkyDrive. Further, your in built camera will be able to take pictures from the lock screen itself which means no need to login. You can also set your lock screen picture to be the same as of your desktop providing a greater unity.

  2. Search:
    Search Charm in Windows 8.1
    Unlike now, when you have to select an app and then go to Search charm to do the search, Windows 8.1 holds for you global search feature powered by Bing. It means now your search will not only limited to your hard drive but will aggregate the web as well. Search will now encompass all- the web, apps, files, SkyDrive, actions you can take. You will also have quick actions like playing a audio or video.

  3. Apps and Windows Store: Windows 8.1 will contain some more built in apps than were in Windows 8 installation. Other than that, the previously existing apps will also be going through improvements like the photo app will not contain some basic tools for photo editing and will not be accessible with Microsoft services like the SkyDrive.
  4. Colors background for start screen
  5. Customize tile size and placement: Leblond said that they found that many users were accidentally moving the Tiles on their start screen. To avoid this now you are required to left click and hold or use right clicks to move your Start Screen tiles.

    You also get 2 more tile sizes- new large and new small.

    Further, now you get better flexibility with regards to managing your app screen. You will will able to search for the apps as well as categorize them by name, date installed, most used, or by category.

    New apps won't directly start appearing in your Start Screen. Instead, they would be collected under the "new" categorization as mentioned above. You can choose whether to show them in the Start Screen or not.

  6. Multi tasking with apps:
    Multitasking in Windows 8.1
    I am sure most of us have faced this problem when we can have only 1 app on the screen. This was somewhat solved with a Windows 8 app called Toolbox which allowed multitasking, but with Windows 8.1, Microsoft has tackled this problem head on. With Windows 8.1 you can now open up to 4 apps on the screen. If you have multiple displays then you can have individual apps opened on each screen and the Start Screen open on one screen.

  7. Cloud connectivity:
    Now your files can be saved directly on SkyDrive with the SkyDrive app. You can now access your files directly with SkyDrive whether they are on the machine or on the cloud.

    You just need to sign in with your Microsoft account and all your settings and apps become available on any new device thus making the setting up on any new device very easy.

  8. PC Settings: PC Settings gets much more powerful with Windows 8.1. Many of the features of the Control Panel are not available in PC Settings like Windows update, changing Windows key, changing screen resolution, checking battery back up etc. You can even check your SkyDrive storage with PC Settings.

  9. Internet Explorer 11: With a new OS you also get an updated browser. IE 11 is the only browser built for touch. IE 11 now has better touch performance, better speed and ability to view all open tabs with synced devices.

Read My first experience with Windows 10 Technical Preview

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