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6/13/2013
11:41 AM
Jeff Bertolucci
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Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits

Windows 8.1 does a lot more than bring back the Start button. These 10 features may give it a much-needed popularity boost with enterprise users.
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Hey, Windows 8, who loves ya, baby? Not many, it seems. Microsoft claims the new OS is a blockbuster, of course, and has the numbers to (sort of) prove it.

Exhibit A: Microsoft Windows program manager (and longtime company veteran) Iain McDonald, speaking at the June 3 keynote presentation at TechEd 2013 in New Orleans:

"Now, we've had Windows 8 out for eight months so far. We've been getting lots of feedback. We've sold over 100 million copies, a few more than that, but we'll announce some numbers later this month. We've got over 70,000 apps in the store, and we know we've got hundreds of millions of downloads of those apps. And are we happy with it? Yeah, we're happy with it."

Exhibit B: Antoine Leblond, corporate VP of Windows Program Management, in a May 30 blog post.

"The response to Windows 8 has been substantial -- from new devices to strong app growth to key enhancements to the OS and apps. We've learned from customers on how they are using the product and have received a lot of feedback."

Replace "feedback" with "criticism" in both quotes, and you've got a more accurate take on the state of Windows 8. Adoption has been weak thus far, and studies have shown that consumers aren't thrilled with Windows 8's touch-oriented Modern UI and mobile-style apps.

It's no wonder that Microsoft is working feverishly on Windows 8.1, a soon-to-ship upgrade that addresses many Windows 8 gripes. Most notably, the desktop Start button -- but not the Start menu -- that was cruelly stripped from Windows 8 will be restored in version 8.1, albeit with some changes. And traditionalists who want to bypass the Modern UI entirely will have a boot-to-desktop option.

There's a lot more to Windows 8.1 than a few interface tweaks, however. Microsoft is adding numerous under-the-hood enhancements for its corporate customers, many of whom aren't thrilled with retraining costs associated with a Windows 8.x upgrade.

For Windows 8 and RT users, the Windows 8.1 upgrade will be free when it ships later this year. Microsoft is expected to release a preview version by the end of June.

Click through the slideshow to see 10 lesser-known features that may boost Windows 8.1's popularity, particularly in the enterprise. One unanswered question: How will longtime Windows users -- no doubt the fiercest critics of the Modern UI -- react to Windows 8.1's changes?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

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Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2013 | 12:36:04 AM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits
I just don't understand all the Win8 hate. Desktop mode works fine for work, tiles mode is cool for play. I have a Lenovo Yoga and love having Win8 on it. On a non-touch machine, I just stay in Desktop mode and have no problems.
Perhaps there is some get-on-the-bandwagon me-too hype here.
garry
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garry,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/15/2013 | 1:44:50 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits
Ten surprise but largely useless benefits for the masses. Microsoft need to stop wasting time and effort with bits of fluff around the edges of Windows 8 and majorly overhaul the interface, just like everyone is asking them to.
proberts551
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proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
6/14/2013 | 7:19:04 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits
Iain McDonald - Drunk with the Microsoft Cool-Aid, and in complete denial. What better thing to do to keep your job, but to rant "Success" after insulting all your customers by telling them that they have to learn a new interface...period. In our face huh? Back in yours pal! How many users do you think you lost to Apple? This dud and dude is unbelievable! I have supported professionally every MS Operating system from DOS 3.0 , all Windows Product all the way to Server 2008. I still do it, no problem. In 5 Minutes, I was still lost trying to figure out the Windows 8 GUI (At Walmart) Fire sales on Windows 8 Laptops at Walmart. They want rid of them. What do you suppose this is doing to the standard user? Hummmm, takes no Genuis to figure that out. I had to figure out a few minor issues the the bosses Windows 8 tablet, success with pain. I am not inspired at all by forced education from a product that should be very user friendly out of the box, and creating a fun exciting, easy, logical way to do work and play. This is not the product. Because I do not have to yet, I'm not gong to mess with it further, unitl I need to. Should we all be forced to learn Chinese? I don't think so. Hey! I have an idea? Lets create a new Coca Cola, and throw out the old recipe!
Tronist
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Tronist,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/14/2013 | 4:59:50 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits
Bringing back the Start menu is good, but how about getting rid of all that other crap that's cluttering up the desktop?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/14/2013 | 4:53:13 PM
re: Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits
Its interesting that most of these features are available in Win7 in one form or another.
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