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Windows 8.1 - What's new?

Windows 8.1 - What's new?
Microsoft released its much anticipated update to Windows 8 on 17th October 2013. Instead of the Windows 8 Service Pack 1 we are used to with the previous editions of Windows, we are introduced to Windows 8.1. So why change the naming weâ

Windows 8 has delighted some users and frustrated others. To a new user with no Windows experience it can be difficult to find the hidden menus and navigation of the computer settings can be a confusing minefield. Microsoft aimed to soothe some of the issues with their 8.1 upgrade.

The start button

When I first heard of this feature I was happy as I found the tile screen annoying on a desktop computer. For a tablet it's great but when using a computer for business I want my menus. Unfortunately I confused the start button with start menu and found it very disappointing. This feature is literally a button in the bottom left that opens a tile screen rather than having to find the invisible area in the corner to bring up the tiles. Ok for a beginner who can't find the hidden menu but useless for the intermediate and advanced users.

Boot to desktop

This feature only saves me a couple of seconds every time I log in to my machine but has removed the frustration of being presented with the tile screen every time I successfully enter my password. As I don't have a start menu I use my desktop and taskbar for most of my icons, avoiding the nasty metro versions of the built in Windows apps. To boot to desktop simply right click the taskbar and select Properties. On the navigation tab you'll see a tick box to enable the boot to desktop feature.


Hands -free navigation

We've all been there - we're using the food & drink app in Windows 8 to guide us through making a wonderful Victoria Sponge. Our hands are covered in cake mix and we need to turn the page to see the next page of the recipe. Instead of attempting to scroll with your nose Microsoft have kindly introduced hands free navigation to the app and pages can be viewed simply by swiping your hand in front of the webcam. Open a recipe and you will see hand free as an option.

Automatic app updates

This is a simple feature. Instead of manually telling Windows to update its apps this can now be done automatically.

Better integration with SkyDrive

Microsoft SkyDrive is an area in the cloud where you can save your documents without ever having to worry that they will be lost the next time your computer implodes. They are stored over the internet and on the Microsoft servers. Windows 8.1 introduces better integration with SkyDrive and find your online documents easily though Windows search (much like you would a file stored locally on your computer) and can also be configured to be the default area to save documents to.

Worth the upgrade?

Of course these are only a handful of the new Windows 8.1 features, there are many more out there. So is it worth the upgrade? Absolutely! There is only one issue with upgrading which I will cover shortly but apart from that there's no reason not to. The update only adds and improves features, there are no features harmed by it and it has been received well by the Windows community.

The issue mentioned above is for those of us using Windows 8 Enterprise. As it stands we don't get the option to upgrade using the Windows Store, we have to do a fresh install of Windows 8.1 using a different licence key. Will I be losing all my settings and applications for the extra features mentioned above? I'm afraid not! 


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