Microsoft shows off Windows 8.1 in biggest pre-release news yet

While it might not technically be a leak if Microsoft itself posts it, the company has decided to show off Windows 8.1ahead of a preview release this summer. And yes, as confirmed yesterday, the Start Button is making a comeback.

Microsoft’s post was careful not to call it the “Start Button”, choosing instead to say that the Modern Windows logo will be ever-present on the taskbar when you’re working on the Desktop. It’ll also appear when you hover over the left corner in either interface — replacing the busier-looking thumbnail of the Start Screen that currently appears in Windows 8.

Windows 8.1 Start-screen

What else is changing? There’s the unified background image, which Microsoft also notes can be animated like Android live wallpaper. Other personalization options have been added, too. Two new tile sizes have been added — one larger, one smaller — so that you can shrink apps to just an icon or give them even more room to display Live Tile info. Windows 8.1 will also let you select, move, and resize multiple tiles at once — a helpful tweak for power users who have dozens of apps to organize.

The lock screen is getting some upgrades, too. You’ll also be able to set your lock screen so that your Windows 8.1 device displays a slideshow of your photos when it’s locked.

Windows 8.1 - Skydrive

What else is changing in Windows 8.1? Microsoft is doubling down on SkyDrive integration, underscoring the convenience of saving to the cloud and roaming Windows 8.1 profiles powered by a Microsoft account.

Internet Explorer 11 will be included from day one, and it’s going to be faster and offer an improved touch experience. “Several other new features” you’re going to love are being added, though the company’s Antoine Leblond didn’t offer any specifics. One good possibility is WebGL support.

One other common gripe is also getting addressed in Windows 8.1. Leblond promised “better keyboard and mouse options,” which, if actually delivered, will help quiet Windows 8 critics who decried the touch-first design.

Microsoft’s post answered a lot of questions, but there’s bound to be plenty more to see when the preview release of Windows 8.1 hits its download servers — possibly as soon as next month.


One thought on “Microsoft shows off Windows 8.1 in biggest pre-release news yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s