After having worked on Windows 8.1 for an entire year, Microsoft has finally made the first Windows 8 update official – the free Windows 8.1 upgrade is now available for download through the Windows Store for those users that have Windows 8 installed on their devices. From tomorrow, October 18, Microsoft will also deliver Windows 8.1 preloaded on new devices and also in boxed software form which will replace Windows 8. So, any new device that you will buy from October 18 will come with Windows 8.1 preloaded, whether we’re talking about tablets, hybrids or desktop computers.
If you are not upgrading from Windows 8, but from an older version, then you’ll have to pay the regular prices: $119.99 for Windows 8.1 and $199.99 Windows 8.1 Pro. Many users, including myself, are running a preview version of Windows 8.1, which means we will have to the apps. Those of you that weren’t that curious and are moving just now from Windows 8 to 8.1 won’t have to reinstall anything as the software update already comes with the final form of the apps.
Since the Windows 8.1 update is going to be rolled-out everywhere in the world through the Windows store, you might get earlier or later, depending on your geographic location. So, you need to keep checking the Windows Store to check whether the Windows 8.1 update is available for you.
What has changed with Windows 8.1
The main reason behind the Windows 8.1 upgrade is the fac that when it launched Windows 8 last year, Microsoft has received mixed reviews for its much-awaited software upgrade. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft wants to show that they have listened to users’ feedback and they are going to make the necessary changes. Let’s see which are the most important.
- Smarter syncing – Windows 8.1 brings the option to sync apps and Start screen layouts across devices. Sign-in with Microsoft account for the first time on a new device and you will be able choose another PC as the template for your new installation.
- Live tile improvements – Windows 8.1 brings immediate updates and new tile sizes: 70x70px and 310x310px which users can use to further customize their Windows Start screen.
- Redesigned Windows Store – fresh layouts and news categories such as ‘New & Rising’. Windows 8.1 brings automatic app update and personalized recommendations.
- Deep SkyDrive integration – Windows 8.1 brings SkyDrive Smart Files so that users can work with files from anywhere, anytime, on whatever device is being used.
- Enhanced Search – Windows 8.1 brings an important update to Bing Smart Search that lets you search in the same time on your device and on the Web.
- Improved Microsoft apps and services – Windows 8.1 brings updates to the following apps: Mail app, new apps – Bing Food & Drink and Bing Health & Fitness, News, Weather, Finance, Travel, Sports, Xbox Music.
- Internet Explorer 11 – the Windows 8.1 browser is now optimized for touch and is much faster, bringing synchronized browsing history, favorites, and settings across on all of your Windows 8.1 devices.
- The return of the Start button – the Start button is back on the Desktop mode in Windows 8.1 but it won’t work like you’d expect it to. It will work like a quick doorway back to the Start screen and if you right click on it, a small pop-up menu will apear with functions letting you to shut down, go to task manager, control panel, program and features and many others.
- Redesigned Start screen – besides the new tile sizes, Windows 8.1 also comes with new background designs and colors for the Start screen. You can also choose to see Start screen or the desktop mode when you boot the device.
- Improved multi-tasking – Windows 8.1 now lets you align four apps side by side with flexible windows sizing. The Windows 8 software update also brings improved multi-monitor support.
Also, along with the Windows 8.1 update, finally, an official Facebook app has been launched. You will discover much more features on your own, such as more helpful hints that have been integrated with Windows 8.1, more snap options, onscreen keyboard swipes, some gesture-enabled apps, Xbox One integration and others. There are downsides, as well, such as limited Gmail support and the fact that we’ll be targeted with ads when using the improved smart search.
Have you installed the Windows 8.1 update? What do you think about it so far? Let us know in the comments section so that we could if Microsoft deserves to be lauded or bashed.
Download Windows 8.1 from Microsoft’s Online Store