Windows 8 Apps Get Pre-Launch Tweaks

Microsoft makes more than 50 enhancements in key areas like search, e-mail, news, and photos as it readies the new OS for public debut.
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
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Microsoft is updating many of the apps and tools that come with Windows 8, and this week the company outlined more than 50 changes affecting everything from search and messaging to photo and music management.

The software maker plans to formally launch Windows 8 on Oct. 26.

"As we get close to the general availability (GA) of Windows 8, there are many things that the Windows team and other teams at Microsoft have been doing to get ready," said Windows program management team member Gabriel Aul, in a blog post.

"Leading up to GA for Windows 8, we will be releasing updates for many of the apps that were included with the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 8 that was delivered to PC makers and to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in August," said Aul.

[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]

The updates impact a wide variety of Microsoft apps that will run on Windows 8 and its tablet-only cousin, Windows RT. Updated apps include the following:

SkyDrive. Microsoft's SkyDrive got a new tool that will allow users to search from within the cloud storage app. There are also new functions that let users rename and move files and folders and customize sort order.

Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging. The collaboration apps received a number of enhancements, including conversation views of inboxes, IMAP support, better search, and a function that lets users accept or decline invitations through e-mail.

Photos. With the updated photo app, users can now crop and rotate pictures and view photos from networked locations that have been added to their Picture Library. Slideshow management is also improved.

Bing. The Windows 8 Bing app, not to be confused with, now yields richer results for local content and images, according to Microsoft, and a zoom tool has been added that lets users see related queries. There's also better integration with Bing Rewards.

News.Microsoft has enhanced its News app with more content from The New York Times and other partners. There's also an enhanced article reader and a better offline reading experience, according to the company.

Sports. Sports fans should appreciate some of the additions Microsoft has made to its Sports app. They include more slideshows, videos, news and magazine content, and access to content from soccer leagues like Major League Soccer and the Brazilian league.

All told, Microsoft has made more than 50 tweaks to its apps, and the company plans to continue the updates up until Windows 8 launches. "For those of you who have already installed Windows 8 RTM, it is super-easy for you to get the updates from the Store app," said Aul.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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