In October, 2012, Microsoft launched Windows 8, hoping they would once again compete with Google and Apple. In a heartbeat, the new operating system hit desktops, laptops, and tablets. Like all new systems, however, Windows 8 RT had its issues and ultimately failed to impress. To top it off, users were miffed that Microsoft decided to get rid of the START/HOME button.
In trying to redeem itself, Microsoft will be offering its Windows 8.1 update, which will be downloadable for free from the Windows Store.
START/HOME button is back
After the massive criticism about the START button’s omission from the original Windows 8, it is back, much to the relief of loyal users. It is back with a slight modification, however. The old version allowed users to access the launched application, however, selecting the button now serves as a shortcut back to the original tiled interface of the system. For those who still miss the original button, there are a variety of third-party apps online that will serve the same functions.
3D printing support
The Windows 8.1 update will allow developers to add 3D printing capabilities for various applications. This means that 3D models can be printed directly from the programs. The system is compatible with 3D printer manufacturers such as Form Labs and Makerbot.
In addition to 3D printing, this update will include Wi-Fi Direct and NFC support as well. For users with NFC-enabled printers and Windows 8 devices, printing is extremely simple.
Facebook and Flipboard apps
Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, announced that the Windows 8 Facebook and Flipboard apps were on their way. Although he didn’t include a release date, Ballmer’s announcement was music to users’ ears as they will soon be able to access the apps that were previously only available iOS and Android devices.
Native Windows 8.1 apps
In addition to formatting existing iOS and Android apps for Windows 8, Microsoft has also been busy making their own native ones that appeal to mobile consumers. There is a Food and Drink app, which pulls in recipes, culinary tips, and even a wine encyclopedia, powered by Bing. There is also a Health and Fitness app, which provides exercise routines information, as well as nutritional advice. It even has a symptom tracker for those striving to get healthy. Other new apps include a calculator, sound recorder, and a reading list.
Boot up options
The new operating system gives desktop and laptop users and option of landing screens they they first log in. They can choose between the desktop screen, or the tile-based version. This will cause less frustration for those who greatly preferred one over the other.
Lock and Start screen features
Both the lock and start screens have new features, which will make things more interesting for users. To liven up the Lock Screen, users can add a photo slide show. Users can access the camera without unlocking the screen. The Start screen has also been jazzed up, giving users the ability to personalize their screens using Motion Accents, which add live backgrounds.
Although users already had the option of opening two applications at once in Windows 8, the 8.1 update allows for the windows to be side by side. This adds functionality to the system, allowing multi-taskers to use up to four apps at once.
Comprehensive search capabilities are now available across cloud storage, the web, and the hardware itself. The Bing-powered search function lets users look for everything on their devices, from Microsoft Word documents and Windows 8 apps, to content deep inside the SkyDrive account.
The Windows 8.1 update gives users the ability to take panoramic photographs in a similar manner as iOS and Android devices. The sweeping shot can be edited using the built-in suite.
High-tech fingerprint technology in the system’s update will add a layer of security for those with classified information on their devices. Fingerprints can be used to protect data and files you don’t want others to see.
Windows 8.1 Recommendations
These new features and improvements, that have been added to Windows 8, have fixed a lot of the complaints users have been voicing. They will will improve the users overall experience. Bottom line: Microsoft has shown it still can be innovative. Install Windows 8.1 and see an improved operating system.