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Windows 8 Gets Last-Minute Touch Up

Battery life, video playback, and app performance improve in new update, the first to arrive through Microsoft's streamlined patch process.

8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Microsoft said it has made several enhancements to Windows 8 that boost the new operating system's overall performance. The company added that it has adopted a new update process that will result in faster rollouts of future patches.

The tweaks, which can be downloaded immediately through Windows Update, include enhancements designed to boost battery life, improve audio and video playback, jumpstart app and Start screen performance, and enhance application and driver compatibility with Windows 8.

Microsoft did not provide full details about how the updates work. The company did, however, outline new procedures for testing and distributing updates so that they get to users more quickly.

With past versions of Windows, Microsoft would test updates with each PC maker individually before making them generally available in a service pack. "We would often create dozens of changes for each OEM," said Windows group president Steven Sinofsky, in a blog post.

Beginning with Windows 8, Microsoft has developed procedures that will allow it to roll out major updates universally, without having to test them on individual PC models.

[ Microsoft will release two versions of its new OS. See Windows 8, RT Confusion: Can Microsoft Beat It? ]

"During the final months of Windows 8 we challenged ourselves to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these 'post-RTM' updates sooner than a service pack," said Sinofsky. "By developing better test automation and test coverage tools we are happy to say that Windows 8 will be totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability."

MSDN and enterprise customers should have received the most recent updates on Oct. 9 through Windows Update "following the standard cadence for Windows Updates on the second Tuesday of each month," Sinofsky wrote. "We think this new pace of delivering high-quality updates to Windows will be a welcome enhancement for all our customers."

Windows 8 represents the most radical redesign of Windows since Windows 95, which introduced familiar features like the Start button and Task Bar. In Win8, Start is replaced by a home screen featuring Live Tiles, from which users can access apps and information services.

Microsoft plans to formally release Windows 8 at a launch event in New York City on Oct. 26. It will promote the new operating system through, among other things, seasonal pop-up stores in high-profile locations like New York City's Times Square and the Shops at North Bridge in Chicago, as well as 32 other locations.

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