We reported recently that Microsoft were planning to relaunch their flagship Windows 8 Operating System, and it has now been announced by the company what users can expect when the update rolls around later this year.
The company put up a blog post on Thursday that featured all the kind of company talk and self-appreciation that one can come to expect from any kind of product announcement such as this, but what are the real world differences, and how different can a user expect their day-to-day relationship with Windows to become with Windows 8.1.
Firstly the company wish to bring increased personalisation to all devices running Windows 8, so they give users the choice of Start screen, which will remain, backgrounds as well as a bunch of new tiles that can be individually customised to create an interface that more accurately reflects the user.
Secondly is the “Search charm” which aims to bring a more concise and a higher quality of answer to a users query through an aggregated view of a variety of sources. This is essentially a greater integration of Bing into the system, but we should expect a slight increase in quality alongside this larger inclusion of Microsoft’s search engine.
Users can also expect a massive update of built in apps that come preloaded on the software, as well as a overhaul and refurb of the Windows Store. Microsoft also announced that they are working on a bunch of brand new apps that will feature on devices out of the box but more details of these will be coming later.
While discussing apps it is important to note that Windows 8.1 will change the way the software reacts to multi-tasking, and more importantly how much control a user has over the way multiple windows or apps are open at one time, so resizing apps to any size that is appropriate will now be possible and snapping different windows together, which featured on older versions of Windows, will make a return.
Microsoft also announced an increase of Cloud integration as they will continue to push SkyDrive connectivity with their devices. Windows 8.1 will give users the ability to save files directly to their SkyDrive account and the new SkyDrive app that will feature with Windows 8.1 will allow files to be accessed offline.
SkyDrive will also be utilised for backup purposes as Microsoft claim that through a log in with ones Microsoft account a device automatically updates to include a users settings and apps.
The biggest change that will come with Windows 8.1 almost makes these other changes seem somewhat insignificant, this is because Microsoft seems to have been listening to criticisms of making desktop computing too similar to mobile browsing and will make a huge upgrade to mouse and keyboard options for desktop versions of the OS.
In the aforementioned post Microsoft sounded like they were attempting to defend the initial goal of Windows 8 as they said ‘PCs today are evolving for a world of mobile computing where people interact with their devices through touch, and we designed Windows 8 for this’. They went on to concede the fact the ‘there are many non-touch devices in use today’.
This all amounts to Microsoft seeing the errors of their way with trying to update things too much too quickly, which resulted in a mess of desktop computing being difficult because a computer had been reduced to a tablet.
The big one though, the fabled Start button, the thing that numerous users couldn’t comprehend had disappeared when Windows 8 was first released, will make a comeback… Of sorts.
Like mentioned previously the Start Screen will remain but now when users hover their mouse over the bottom left-hand of their screen they will see a new Start “tip” which should pretty much amount to the Start button of old.
Microsoft claim that these are just some updates and there are more to come, and really it needs to be something groundbreaking as the things that have been mentioned here will be welcome additions to the software but nothing is really going to set the world on fire.
We can expect to see devices running Windows 8.1 at Microsoft’s developer conference, Build, which begins on June 26th and consumers can expect a release later this year.
As always I’d love to hear your opinion, are these welcome additions or were you expecting something more revolutionary from this announcement? Are there any users of Windows 8 that were considering changing OS until they say these updates and changed their mind? Let me know in the comments below.