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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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RobertA473
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RobertA473,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2013 | 1:33:53 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
8.1 doesn't have a start menu ... the chief complaint with 8.0 and it still doesn't have a start menu - how very ordinary ... ps i hate the 'charms' - i repeat; i HATE the charms
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Author
10/17/2013 | 3:04:20 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Not sure how much use a Start button has without the Start menu. And how a user gets functionality from it doesn't seem very intuitive.
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
10/17/2013 | 4:20:17 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
If you use the OS with an open mind you will find that you don;t miss the start "menu". Just ype in the application name and off you go.
Tronman
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Tronman,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2013 | 4:55:09 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Windows 8 is the new Vista was the new ME.
Mark532010
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Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
10/17/2013 | 5:29:44 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
It will be interesting to see how the new bing search is implemented. I removed the old google desktop search because of privacy concerns. I suspect Bing Search has the same issues - hopefully there is a way to turn it off
esilders44101
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esilders44101,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2013 | 5:33:51 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
You have as much multi-tasking as you ever had before when in the desktop and who needs the Start menu when you can get to all apps with a single click or keystroke. Arrange the apps as you see fit and you're off and running. I'd never go back to Start / Programs / sub-menu etc. I've on Windows 8 and now 8.1 nearly a year and wouldn't go back.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
10/17/2013 | 8:00:27 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
As long as the updated Start8 by Stardock works, MY Start button WILL have a Start Menu...To heck with Microsoft and their halfway updates...
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
10/17/2013 | 8:33:19 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Only stubborn users who refuse to learn something new need a crutch like Start8. In 30 minutes or less you should have become familiar enough with Windows 8 to be comfortable and off and running just as in the past.
samiseo
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samiseo,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/18/2013 | 6:51:05 AM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Upgrade to Windows 8.1 form Windows 8: (step by step)

http://www.alerts4it.blogspot....
samiseo
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samiseo,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/18/2013 | 6:51:27 AM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Essential Upgrade Facts
Upgrade to Windows 8.1 form Windows 8: (step-by-step)

http://www.alerts4it.blogspot....
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