Windows 8.1: Microsoft Demos New Features

A Huge Revision, Windows 8.1 Improves Boldly

Nobody would blame you for being shocked at the speed with which Microsoft has put together some huge changes for Windows 8.1. Given that major revisions of an OS have typically taken Microsoft between three and six years, it’s particularly impressive that they’ve not only managed to make some changes based on user feedback, but to add a huge swath of new capabilities all in the span of less than a year since Windows 8 launched. This morning, Microsoft released a new video detailing some of the upcoming changes to the Modern UI. Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments! Detailed list of new features after the break!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/VQb5caeSo00[/youtube]

The takeaway:

1. Start Screen: New UI includes both larger and smaller tile sizes. The larger ones are for information-rich Live Tiles, the smaller, more for app icons that don’t really need a live tile.

2. Start Screen: Crazy levels of customization options, including the option to use your desktop wallpaper as your Start Screen wallpaper. This might alleviate people thinking the switch is “jarring” (whatever that means).

3. Start Screen: New background options include motion backgrounds that scroll along with your touch. Neat, I guess. Hopefully they don’t waste battery life like Android’s live wallpapers do.

4. Start Screen: Now you can either tap an arrow or swipe up to get a full list of all the programs installed on your system. You can also sort according to date installed, category, name, etc.

5. Lock Screen: In addition to the Live Apps you can put on the lock screen already, Windows 8.1’s lock screen can be a photo frame that cycles through your pictures from your PC, skydrive, your phone, and other devices that are connected. Neat.

Windows 8.1 Search Hero6. Search: “Search Heroes” present a curated view of content based on your search query. It pulls not just data from your PC, but from the web, and includes websites, pictures–all kinds of crap. VERY cool.

7. Search: Windows 8 search lets you apply powerful filters to image searches. For example, you can now filter according to a particular color. Need that blue-tint pic of Marilyn Monroe for something? Well, now it’s easy to find! Nice.

8. Multitasking: Windows 8.1 lets you put up to 4 apps onscreen at once, all running live and in real time. Looks like the “Windows” is coming to the Modern UI after all. This should assuage a lot of the upset people have had about Windows 8’s modern UI so far, as many people are generally pissed about having to deal with full screen apps. Well, folks, looks like those days are numbered.

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