In other news, Windows 8's native Photos app will evidently undergo some changes in Windows 8.1, and users aren't happy about all of them. The updated app includes new photo-editing tools but it also, at least in the preview version, removes the ability to store photos from sites such as Facebook and Flickr.
A preview user who spotted the change shared her experience on a Microsoft forum, and a company representative indicated in a reply that the omissions will be permanent.
"In Windows 8, we wanted to provide a way for folks to view their photos on other services knowing there would be few (if any) apps in the store at launch that would do so," the representative wrote. With a bigger app library that will soon include a native Facebook app, the posting continued, there will be many ways to store and view photos in Windows 8.1. The Photo app now longer needs to perform these functions.
In a way, it's ironic that Windows 8's native apps, which have been criticized as underdeveloped, were intended to compensate for a lack of third-party titles. Still, some participants in the Microsoft forum aren't satisfied with the company's response. A few expressed concern that Win8.1 would shift the platform from a content-centric mentality to an app-centric one.
While some users might be dismayed by the Photo app's evolution, others will be encouraged to learn that Windows 8.1 could make trackpads more useful. The Verge reports that Microsoft revealed its trackpad plans during a session at the company's Build conference, where the Windows 8.1 preview was introduced. Intel and several other companies are involved in the effort, which should translate into trackpads that support touchscreen-like operations, such as smooth scrolling, and better zooming and panning.
As OS X users are likely to point out, this sort of trackpad technology is already available in Apple's MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, and even on Apple's desktops via an accessory. It's notable that Apple, despite leading the touch revolution with the iPhone and iPad, has been hesitant to integrate touchscreens into its traditional computers. The company has patents, most of which date back years, for touchscreen iMacs and a MacBook that turns into an iPad. But it has never appeared in a rush to deploy these technologies, and Windows 8 doesn't appear to have changed that.
Whatever the outcome, touchscreens and trackpads have so far represented a notable difference between Microsoft and Apple's respective strategies, and how they view the all-in-one market. This issue, the Photo app, and others will continue to develop as Microsoft updates the Win8.1 preview, and as user reactions continue to accumulate.
The final version of Windows 8.1 will be out before the end of the year, and devices with the new trackpad technology reportedly will arrive around the same time.