Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Windows 8.1 (Blue) First Preview

Windows 8.1 is the name of the Windows 8 update which is coming later this year. It has dozens of new features which have been leaked this week which allow users to make their computing experience even more personal and make using a PC even easier and more fluid.
The next version of Windows was codenamed 'Blue' however we discovered only yesterday that it will be officially called Windows 8.1.
Note: Windows Blue is not Windows 9 - instead it build on features that are already in Windows 8.

The main difference is on the 'Start' page - Windows Blue gives you more colour options for your background and it introduces 2 new sized tiles; extremely small and extremely large. For customising your tiles and their location there is a new button which lets you move them all at once instead of selecting one tile, moving that and then selecting another tile, then moving that. This new button is found when you swipe down on a tile and the settings appear. It makes it a lot easier to move tiles and make groups of apps.

If you want to see all of your apps you can now swipe up from the 'Start' screen and you will be shown a clean and modern looking screen with a list of all of your apps.

Most of the changes in Windows 8.1 can be found under the Settings menu. Some of these changes are small such as allowing you to access your camera straight from the lock screen however some are pretty major like adjusting your aspect ratio, rotation or additional monitors without having to jump into desktop mode.

Windows 8.1 loves Skydrive even more than Windows 8 did. Microsoft is working on some kind of syncing system from your Windows 8.1 device to Skydrive, and you can also back up your device straight to Skydrive. Like Windows Phone, Windows 8.1 gives you the option to upload all pictures and videos from your camera roll straight into a folder in Skydrive.

In the new Apps menu in Settings there are many new options, one which is called 'Quiet Hours' which allows you to disable app notifications between certain hours of the day. This is useful if you need to keep your computer turned on overnight however dislike having it lighting up and making noise every time you unlock a daily achievement on a game.

Microsoft also seems to be working on a new shutting down page which is extremely similar to Windows Phone as it says 'Swipe down to turn off'.
Windows 8.1 is basically a bigger version of Windows Phone.

Away from Settings, Microsoft seems to be working on a number of new apps. These include an alarm app (which looked very fresh and unique), a calculator app (which also includes a scientific calculator and a  converter tool) and finally, they are also working on a sound recording app.

The biggest new App which we expect Microsoft to be building on is 'Movie Moments' which seems to be a metro replacement for Windows Movie maker. So far it is pretty basic as it only lets you add captions to videos however we expect more to come soon.

Current apps such as Internet Explorer are also getting updated, IE11 has a tab sync function which is very similar to Apple Safari and Google Chrome however a new multiple screen option has also been rumoured. I'm not quite sure how that will work however it should be good once we find out more.

One thing which most people hated in Windows 8 was the fact that if you wanted to use more than one app at a time, you needed to have one app taking 75% of the screen and another app taking only 25% of the screen. Luckily with Windows 8.1, apps default snap into a 50-50 view across the screen however you can still make them smaller or larger if you want. If you have a Windows 8 PC with a high resolution screen you are able to have as many as 4 apps open at the same time which is a huge update from Windows 8 which only lets you have 2.

Finally, Microsoft has also updated the keyboard so it how gives you easy access to the number, you just click a letter on the top line of the keyboard and then you swipe up.

That is basically everything we know currently about Windows 8.1 which will be coming as an update to Windows 8 later this year.