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10/17/2013
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Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts

Microsoft hopes to improve on Windows 8's lackluster first year with Windows 8.1. But is Microsoft's new OS right for you?

6. Windows 8.1 offers improved core apps, including Internet Explorer 11 and better SkyDrive integration. But it also removes a few features.

Some of Windows 8's core apps, such as the Bing News app, have gained a following. But others, such as the bare-bones Mail client, have provoked particular derision.

Windows 8.1 will offer not only improved versions of existing apps, but also several new titles, such as Windows Movie Maker. Many additions are sure to delight, such as the Camera app's new panorama mode, or Internet Explorer 11, which supports new Web standards and can allegedly open up to 100 tabs without a performance slowdown. But other new features will face scrutiny, such as the decision to remove Facebook and Flickr integration from the Photos app.

This removal stems partly from the fact that SkyDrive is fully baked into Windows 8.1; now that users can easily store and access photos both locally and in Microsoft's cloud, the company evidently feels hooks to third-party photo hosting sites are no longer necessary. The move could upset some users, but if Bing Smart Search is a hit, Microsoft might end up being right.

7. With Bing Smart Search, Windows 8.1 combs not only your computers but also the Internet and SkyDrive.

Unlike Windows 8's Search Charm, the new Bing Smart Search function doesn't separate query returns into categorized lists -- e.g. apps, files and so on. Instead, it aggregates results into a single fluid page that includes not only local files, but also returns pulled from SkyDrive, Bing Web search and more.

The results, which include vivid image previews, could encourage users to make use of the cloud. Bing Smart Search includes Microsoft's optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which can search for text in images and gives users with thousands of images a new way to sort through the chaos.

8. Windows 8.1 introduces better Modern UI multi-tasking.

Microsoft's Windows 8 TV commercials often point out that iPads can't multitask but Windows tablets can. But in the original version of the Modern UI, the multitasking feature -- called App Snapping -- only allowed apps to be viewed in one configuration -- one app occupied 75% of the screen, split vertically, and the other app occupied the rest.

Windows 8.1 allows up to four apps to be snapped together, depending on the device's resolution. It also allows users to dynamically alter the size of each app window, eliminating the earlier version's constraints.

9. Windows 8.1 adds lots of small touches.

Though Windows 8.1 largely resembles its predecessor, it adds a number of small touches that could add up to a more enjoyable user experience. Additions such as the boot-to-desktop mode and UI-unifying wallpapers already speak to Windows 8.1's expanded customizability, for example. Other examples include twice as many ways to resize Live Tiles, the ability to organize Tiles into groups, and more controls for unpinning or deactivating given apps.

Windows 8.1 also enables automatic updates by default, adds useful business features such as Miracast, and supports intriguing emerging technologies such as 3-D printing. Stubborn Live Tile skeptics might not be converted, but for some, Windows 8.1 could form a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts.

10. Windows 8.1 will launch with much nicer, and much more attractively priced, devices.

Windows 8 launched with a dearth of touch devices, and the few that were available were expensive, hampered by hardware flaws, or both. The story will be different for Windows 8.1. Highlights include Microsoft's Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which will hit stores next week; Dell's powerfully spec'd and attractively priced Venue tablets; and Lenovo's 8-inch, $299 Miix2, unveiled this week.

Desktop-oriented users might be intrigued by an emerging variety of touchscreen all-in-one PCs or ultrabooks, meanwhile, or even docking stations and external monitors that turn tablets such as the Surface Pro 2 into desktop PCs.

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Lil5
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Lil5,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/15/2013 | 1:58:31 PM
Microsoft Account Log in
I am in the process of upgrading my main desktop and am at the point where it asks me to sign into my Microsoft Account and it says "The next time you sign into this device, use your Microsoft account." Before I continue the upgrade, can someone tell me if 8.1 Pro will require MS Account log in to access the computer after the upgrade?     I would hope not.  I prefer to choose when I want my computer logged into any account.
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
11/22/2013 | 8:22:09 AM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
ALT+TAB - keyboard shortcut that switches between open apps/windows/programs...whatever you want to call them.
wungxing
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wungxing,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/22/2013 | 4:10:11 AM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Well, to be honest, Windows 8.1 still has some porblem need to fix. Just as this post refers to: http://t.co/X6pZPa2IXK
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
10/25/2013 | 4:52:53 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Agree, mouse is not good ergonomically for one and the keyboard is definitely faster, no need to have your hand jumping around the desk.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2013 | 11:28:59 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Why is that relevant? Do you have 10' wide display and give a foot to each document? I have a 32" wide monitor at my office and it's convenient to do side-by-side apps but if I have 10 documents open, I certainly don't have enough room to see them at one time, much less four at once. I just don't understand what you are trying to argue. The modern UI could have one document visible at a time and it would be up to the program to make it easy for you to switch between them with a gesture. What's your point?
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2013 | 5:14:32 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
I strongly disagree with this statement and I believe the sales numbers for Windows 8 back me up. Windows 7 is alive and kicking in most organizations. Windows Xp, although risky, is still out there in good numbers as well.
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
10/21/2013 | 4:12:56 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
With 8.1 the Start function does take you to an all apps view. Right click and you will get a more traditional pull down menu, that includes a shutdown or reboot option.
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
10/21/2013 | 4:10:51 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Bing and Microsoft are not Google and their search software. Same for Gmail and MS Outlook. Google is like a private NSA in the way they use our data, MS is no where as intrusive.
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
10/21/2013 | 4:09:10 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Windows 7 and all prior to it are on their last legs, and are not coming back. There is nothing wrong with Windows 8 or 8.1.
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
10/21/2013 | 4:08:13 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
And you are the new 3rd level butthead. Windows 8 puts ME to shame, and there was nothing wrong with Vista in my experiences. Maybe you need to refresh your attitude, and with an open mind you will find Windows 8 and now 8.1 are by far the best.
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