Windows 8.1 release date arrives and is available to download now

Below we go through all the key features, some of which were touched on by Microsoft during its walkthrough of the software at Build this evening.

What is Windows 8.1? Windows Blue as it has been codenamed, is Microsoft’s first major upgrade to the Windows 8 desktop operating system.

The launch of 8.1 will mark a change in strategy for Microsoft. Instead of releasing new editions of Windows after lengthy development cycles, going forward Redmond is expected to refresh its OS on a yearly basis. Windows 8.1 will offer much more than a traditional "Service Pack", making it comparable to Apple's annual OS X updates.

So what can users expect from Windows 8.1 Preview?In a blogpost, Microsoft confirmed a number of features which will appear and we run through a list of key features below.

Lockscreen Microsoft already allows users to set a picture password. With Windows 8.1, this feature will be expanded so the lockscreen can be turned into a picture frame by pulling images from local storage or SkyDrive galleries. It will also be possible to take pictures with the camera without having to log into the device.

Start button As has been widely reported, the Start button will return. However, Microsoft has been ambiguous about the functionality it will offer.

Redmond claims the Start button will always be visible on the desktop and when in the Live Tile interface it will appear when mouse is moved to the bottom left-hand corner. It is highly unlikely the Start Button will have the same functionality as Windows 7.

 

Return of unified search

One of the biggest bugbears of Windows 8 is the search functionality. When searching the app only returns results from "Apps" by default and users have to manually click to search for settings and files. With 8.1, unified search will return as default.

Booting to alternate screens

Another feature which has been craved is the ability to boot straight to the desktop. Although Microsoft has stopped short of confirming this, it has said there will be options to boot to alternate screens.

“For example, if you prefer to see the Apps view versus all the tiles, you can choose to have the Start screen go directly to Apps view," said Antoine Leblond,corporate VP of the Windows program management said.
 
Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft has noted that IE 11, debut with Windows 8.1. Improvements touted include better touch performance and faster page loading times. Users will also be able to choose whether they always want the address bar to show and have an unlimited number of tabs open at the same time. Tabs can also be synced across Windows 8.1 devices.

 
Tiles

Microsoft has introduced different sizes including the large and small tile. It is also possible to select multiple apps at the same time and resize, uninstall or rearrange them.

You can view all apps just by swiping from the bottom to view all apps, and we’ve added the ability to filter your apps by name, date installed, most used, or by category.

 
SkyDrive

Files will automatically be saved to SkyDrive and Microsoft also stated that the refreshed app will grant offline access to documents.

 
Apps

It will be easier to use multiple apps in Windows 8.1. Microsoft claims users will be able to resize apps to any size, share the screen between two apps, or have up to three apps on each screen if you have a multiple displays connected.

Users will multiple displays will also be able to run different Windows Store apps on screens as well as the Start Screen. Windows 8.1 also allows you can have multiple windows of the same app snapped together – such as two Internet Explorer windows.
 
PC Settings

The Settings features has been beefed up, meaning you will not have to go into your Control Panel. It will be possible to change your display resolution, set power options, see the make and model of the device, change product key, update Windows Update, and join domains.

Users will also be able to manage SkyDrive accounts from this menu.
 
Price and upgrading

Microsoft will not charge users to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

However, installing could pose problems for some users. Microsoft has gone on record as stating that users who download the Windows 8.1 Preview edition will have to reinstall of their applications when they upgrade to the final version of 8.1. Redmond claims that all account information and data will remain unaffected.  

Release date

Microsoft has now released the public preview, and the full version is expected to follow in the Autumn.

NB. This article was updated on the 14/8/13 to the official announcement of the release date.

Disqus - noscript

Go ahead Microsoft... I was thinking about learning how to use an Apple. If only a easy to use Linux OS would come out, that would be the day.

Thanks windows for making me look other directions . First it was windows 98 then you fixed it and called it windows 98SE and made us buy it. I am done with windows if they start charging windows 8 users to upgrade. PEOPLE hate WINDOWS 8 and you want to charge for an upgrade? I never thought I'd never say it but now I hope windows fails!!!!

Apple is an easy Linux OS.

If you think Windows is bad with making you buy upgrades -- look at your other options - Mac's make you buy entirely new hardware every 2 years or be forced to live with an unsupported operating system (the hardware is then useless), or there's linux, which just doesn't have any software (unless, of course, you consider that android 'runs on linux kernel' which is as of now useless for desktop/laptop users.

I've bought two apples. My first in 2010. Turns out by 2012 apple's 2-year of operating system support is dumped, and the operating system is no longer upgradable to the latest... Which means the 2010 mac is now basically useless... My 2012 Mac notebook is probably going to be useless in under 2 years too.. That's just apple's decision on pre planned product obsolesence... It's an official policy of theirs.

so true Rob. I support you. well said.

Its not useless you can still use it whether you can update or not but anyway my iMac from 08 was still getting updates and was on 10.8 Mountain Lion the newest one, fully supported by Apple. Windows is equal or worse for back compatibility than Apple. I run into compatibility issues on Windows far more than I do on OSX.

You won't be sorry -- I made the switch 2 years ago and I haven't looked back since. It takes about a week to get over the "hump", but man, it's so much nicer.

The hardest part is unlearning in the Microsoft way of doing things, and then learning the right way.

Why are people in the comments calling Macs "Apples"?

Seriously they are going to charge for this ? looks like Linux is going to be in my future.

Are we all supposed to be grateful Get start8 for $4.99

Having purchased 4 copies of Win 8, I don't really expect to pay for this upgrade. I am expecting it to be a free product.

But it's already out there Cory ! Ubuntu Desktop! I am now a convert to Ubuntu - it's free, stable, light, fast and way more secure than WIndows. The interface is good and has come on in leaps and bounds from earlier Linux Distros - yes, it's easy and pleasing to use. Give it a try - you will be impressed.

You can also run some of your Windows programs on it with an application called Wine (Windows Emulator).

I for one, am never going back to Windows.

Actually, as an Apple user I can tell you that software purchased in the PPC days is no longer compatible with a Mac, nor software purchased on OS 8 or OS 9 works today. Software on Windows written 15 years ago, still works today on Windows 8! I wrote a Manic Miner conversion on Windows 98, it's not been updated and the native binary still works today! You can't say that about apple.

So why is my Apple Powerbook 940 with OS 8.5 still running ok?

Its free for windows 8 users. Microsoft has confirmed it. Windows 8.1,that will be its name.

All you want to switch to Linux, stop whining about Win8.1 and move to Linux. I did that two years ago, loaded Ubuntu on all family pc's, marveled at the free stable software, enjoyed Open Office etc., Until my daughters complained that the documents they produced (even saved on doc format) are not opening on other's computers and they cannot open and keep the formatting of their peers' documents. I found that Wine does not work all the time or for all Windows Software. Heck the programs written for Linux do not follow a standard UI (is there a design guideline?) and to access simple setup functions, I had to invoke the command prompt. The forums were very helpful (although not forgiving) and would provide long scripts to accomplish something and I was wondering how come I'm running 3rd party scripts on my computer and still calling it safe?
Finally switched to Win7 and now to Win8 and Office Suite. Happy ending.

I hope you're trolling about an easy to use Linux, if not it's called Ubuntu & if you were going to try it go with the 12.04 Long Term Supported version. P.S It's absolutely free.

You know I've never seen Ubuntu with Open Office installed, only Libre Office which has advanced options & save as features you need to set if you want them to be compatible on Windows. Example, you can save as Windows 95/98/2003 & tonnes of formats.

You are right about Libre. Maybe I should have waited. (I used Open Office before it forked into Libre).

An easy Linux distro? Try Ubuntu first, but there is also Mint. If you go Ubuntu, read the 'perfect Ubuntu desktop for 13.04' web sites afterwards to tweek up the desktop.

Apple Macintosh computer is the name

dumb people are so limted to the amazing capabilities of windows 8
maybe those dumnb people need to switch to dumbpple, pay extar rpice for dump useless os

That's BS. I have a 2009 and a 2010 MacBook Pro, both of which are running the latest version of OS X.

You might want to take another look to see if your Macs can run Mountain Lion. As I mentioned above, I have had no problem upgrading either of my machines to the latest version of OS X.

Actually, if you go on the Apple website, they call them "Macs", therefore the name is actually Apple Mac.

Installing Linux on a mac is not for the feint of heart, you need to really know what you're doing. If your on a mac, stick to OSx. If you're on another manufacturers hardware give it a go, but Linux is little more than a hobby operating system and the people who advocate its use don't use their PC's in the same way as most people (they TEND to know more about computers). Using Linux is more about computer snobbery than productivity.

Then you are new to Ubuntu. When I was running Ubuntu in 2005 it came with Open Office.

Actually it is a BSD Os, Android is Linux.

Windows 8 is the worst Operating System I have ever used. It is the last Microsoft Operating System I will ever buy.

If you are talking about web servers though, then a huge amount run Linux somewhere between a third and two thirds. Anyone writing websites/or any internet related software is almost definitely coming into contact with Linux every day. It's not about snobbery, it's about actually being able to do your job!

force of habit for those who have been around longer than 15 years in the industry. The two consumer PCs used to be called Apples and IBMs.
We'll call it a Macintosh from now on just to make you feel better ;)

For all that say 'switch to Linux' there is no switching to Linux. You 'switch to a Linux distro'... but which one? Ubuntu? Mint? openSUSE? Fedora? Mandriva? PCLinuxOS? Debian? Arch? Gentoo? Once you pick a disto, which desktop do you choose? Unity? Gnome3? Cinnamon? MATE? KDE? XFCE? LXDE?

Unless you choose Mint, be ready to search to get all your media working properly (VLC can't do it all). Oh, and eventually, you will find software that can only be installed by source! Yes, there is source only software for Mac and Windows, but much, much less. Oh, and want to play Diablo III or Starcraft 2 on Linux? Sorry. You might also be banned from Diablo 3 for good if Blizzard sees you playing from a Linux distro. WINE, VMWare and VirtualBox can't do it all ya know. There is hope in Steam! Netflix? Nope, sorry but maybe someday, just not now. And unlike Firefox or Gnome, there are webpages that will only work with Internet Explorer.

You might have problems syncing cameras and MP3 players. Multi-function printers could be problematic too. My daughter's LeapPad won't work either. Got a mouse or keyboard with cool features that cost a little more than average? (like the gaming variety) Those features may never work in Linux.

I speak from experience. I have an Ubuntu Server file, web, Minecraft and VPN server and it works great as such. But with Linux as a desktop, as cool as it might be in the beginning, you'll come across a lot of hurdles. There is a lot of fun to be had in the process. I started with Gentoo for the in-depth learning experience (not for the faint of heart). I eventually ran openSUSE for a few years until I got tired of the hurdles.

Linux suffers from inconsistency. If software providers and hardware manufactures feel that the shift to Linux warrants developing for it, then one, maybe two distros, will rise above all others. I'm thinking Ubuntu or Red Hat because of the commercial support behind them. Otherwise, no matter how many years it has been said, it will never be 'the year of the Linux desktop'

And if you are thinking Mac, be prepared to pay twice as much for half the hardware.

Where are your references? You say that "Windows has released a blog post" but you do not link to it? Do you have any idea how many blogs Microsoft maintains?

Apple is a unix distro

I'm running a mac from 2007 with the latest OS 10.8.3. What did you buy?

Can we download Windows Blue with setup files?

You sir, never experienced Windows ME.

You actually switch to GNU/Linux, not just Linux... give Richard Stallman some credit, please! Cheers-

As long as you honor Torvald for pronouncing Linux properly in your inner voice while you type. :-)

Yes, you could say GNU/Linux, but you rarely see it written as such.

If you wish to know more, google 'gnu linux' and the first result should be it. I'd post the link but they don't let you paste links.

Sometimes it is more specific, eg., Apple HD, is the all in one screen PC.

Just upgrading to Ubuntu 13.04, using Libre Office 4, in Win 8, hackers have cost $300, software $270. One computer is still down, Media Centre is down on the other one, later when I'm not bankrupt, I'll get Win 7. Every time I do a major hardware upgrade, it tells me you have too many instances of Windows, Office. Be aware if you pay for rapid download of Chromium through DepositFiles they will charge you $12.65 per month, forever. The bank will facilitate this theft, unless you upend your finances and cancel your credit card.

Suggest Chrome on Ubuntu, but yes life on the desktop, is much more difficult than Jelly Bean. Desktop equivalent to 500 original Pentium MMXs, but less user friendly than a mobile device of which I have 3. See some of my earlier comments for how difficult, running Server 2012 SP 1, dip elect comp tech net admin spec.

The password for any msdos os, is the escape key.

Al, Please remember what the WINE acronym stands for, Wine Is Not n Emulator

"Microsoft are ambiguous about wha t the start button will do" - How about giving it the same functionality that it had in XP / Vista / 7 and stop dicking about with you pointless Operating System software. Use Linux instead that's what we did as soon as 8 was released - much much better !!!!!

We load "Start 8" by default on the rare occasion we sell Windows 8 whilst trying to keep a straight face - it's junk, and Ballmer is a pratt

no it's not, it's iMac. stop trying to be smart

Lol, ok, in future I'll follow your lead and be stupid.

does it matter it could be called cumquat for all i care

If MS will pay users to install their blue sh*t, then yes, it has a chance to live.
Seems somebody in MS is sick with mobility, while really HUGE base of users sit on desktop. Sure if MS will continue their games with tablets, they'll die.

I thouroughly enjoy windows 8, and I have no problem using it on a day to day basis. The search bar is easy to reach on the right and the start menu is big and easy to navigate. I'm never switching back to OSx.

pardon me, but you seem quite a dimwit...

What about the doss programs ???

They still work on 32-bit Windows 8 as it contains NTVDM. Yes, that means you can run 32-year-old programs if you so desire.

On 64-bit versions you'd need to use DOSBox or similar.

I couldn't`t tolerate Windows 8 until I installed `Windows 7 Shell` start button.
Free on Cnet..

I would like the new update to let us fully customize the start screen with pictures of our own. That would be so cool.

In Linux you can`t use DirectX 10 or 11 and Wine run all the Windows programs slower tha windows itself. All new games run in DX 10 or 11. Why use windows programs in Linux?

The article says it's free, furthermore MS has always said it's free.. What's the point of your comment?

cause maddies gotta mad

from old dos to windows 8.1 it was diddicult to get a mac pc. no as bootcamp are in you can dualboot to mac windows and so on. loved windows 95 win98 se windows me. only bad things about these os. still vitrual drive can handel these goodies. if you want to install mac you simply cant. im using mac too. big updates on every os. you cant get away with that. if you try to get diablo w c 3 to work on mac mini with intel 3000 you could give up. mac has a iso loader like windows 8 and 8.1. both os are great. if someone uses touch on mac and windows wine it could be good to use it. mouse keyboard are fun too. 3d games like duke n 3d and doom 1 2 3 can still be played on mac.have not tested bfg off doom 3 yet.

Uhhh.... no. Macs have been called Macs since the first one shipped in 1984.

Honestly? F*ck Stallman!

you should check your facts. Apple laptops wete not called macs until 2006! High end workstations were apple until the late 90's.

This dimwit has a dip elect comp tech net admin spec, what are your qualifications ? Windows 8 worst operating system ever, owner builders nightmare. Currently studying Server 2012, too many creepy trolls on the internet !!

I have been using Linux since 1996. Mainly redhat and Slackware. Then Ubuntu when it first came out. And still Ubuntu today. BUT, my main systems are still Windows. As much as I like Ubuntu and OSX, I still prefer Windows. Oh well. I do find it odd that there is so much talk about Macs and Linux in a Windows article. lol.

Its still going to be Ghey as faq.

I bought a whole basket of apples. I throw them at hippies that talk about their iCrap and Linux.

I believe Apple lost a law suit for trademark infringement to Apple Records and as part of the settlement agreed to stop calling their product Apple. I also seem to recall that they agreed never to go into the music business. Smells like a criminal enterprise to me.

IT Pro makes adds look just like news links. That's an insult and a waste of my time! I WON'T BE COMING BACK.

Yes i do the same...

so in order to install this update we have to install windows 8, ohhh no not again!

That makes no sense, if your machines got hacked then maybe you don't deserve "comp tech net admin spec"

The US defence department have been hacked, are they idiots, let's cut the victim blaming. By the by, desktop sales have plummeted, mobile device sales have soared. Google's decision to focus on reliability and speed rather than feature creep, sheer genius in project butter, for Jelly Bean. John Q Citizen, doesn't want, to have to get a uni degree in programming to write a document. I got my Media Centre to work, but why do I work for my computer, not it work for me. P.S. I was testing win 8, a year before it was released. My $100 3D Blue Ray player, does a better job than my 8 core, 32 GB Ram computer.

Free BSD, if you want to split hairs. But Apple has pushed to make Mac OSX more Unix-esque ever since 10.6, I think.

Since GNU stands for GNU Not Unix, it's safe to say that BSD/OSX is not Unix, either.

OSX is as much a Unix distro as Linux is. They are both based off of Unix, but with different origins/programmers. That's why you'll find that most command line also work in OSX.

BSD stands for Berkeley Software Distribution. It doesn't fall under the GNU opensource licensing. That's why Apple picked it up. Jobs figured that the BSD licensing was easier to deal with than GNU. More liberties to make money off the licensing than GNU, I guess.

The problem with Apple is that they are a hardware company. Nothing they make is meant to work on anything they didn't make. So the whole iOS environment is meant for Apple to own your every digital thought or whisper. We're lucky iTunes (in all its blunderful glory) works on Windows at all, but I suppose that was just an inroad to net more users and convert them to Apple Cult and drink the Kool-Aid more deeply.

Too late, we realized just that we were locking ourselves into an ecosystem where nothing is transportable. Because that doesn't make sense to a hardware vendor.

Now, I buy nothing from the iTunes because I can't view it on any other devices. Lucky for me, Google with upload and convert your music, which can also play on any iOS device since all things Google Play (except the store, of course) are coming to the iOS device. There is almost no reason to purchase anything but apps and music from their store. I mean who cares if I can't transfer apps (pretty preposterous) and I can transfer my music.

And Apple doesn't care. If you can still use it on their hardware, that's fine with them. They only want to sell you hardware, nothing else.

were can I download the update from ?

Does 8.1 fix the Metro problems?

Hello Chris. As posted in the article above, you can download the Windows 8.1 preview from here. http://windows.microsoft.com/e...

Cheers,

Caroline Donnelly

yea I tried that but it say my computer is not compatabal but its

intel core i3

6gd ram

750gd hard drive

windows 8

so wots the problem

wow! people have to much time to disscus about nothing:o

please some know if i install preview now and when 8.1 released, what happens then?
i need to pay or what? i can use preview with no affect?

Not sure if you've got this sorted yet, but it could be related to this story we wrote last week. http://www.itpro.co.uk/operati...

Otherwise, the guys on the Microsoft tech support forum might be able to shed some light on the issues you're having. Let us know how you get on.

I've pasted a link to the support forum below.
http://answers.microsoft.com/e...

Cheers,

Caroline

Microsoft is determined to get people to use Modern UI even though it's disruptive and useless as far as productivity is concerned. Modern UI should be no different than that stupid launchpad on Macs. You only see it if you want to. But Microsoft can't allow us to "choose" because Microsoft is trying to gain a toehold in the new Mobile space that depends on us using modern ui whether we like it or not. If we don't use it on purpose, we'll surely use it by accident. And while they're at it, they,re also going to turn us all into instant Bing Search users, complete with advertisements in our searches. Whatever happened to making a product that people simply wanted to use? Has Apple patented that business practice?

no man. you must know Windows 8 before u judge. im a windows 7 fan, but now i vote windows 8. it's faster.. i know u dont like the Win8 because you dont know how to use it, where ti find locations like.. where is the control panel??? =D XD ahahaha

You are a liar, and have no clue what the hell you are talking about. Its one thing to not like or use an OS, its totally another to give misinformation. You are a complete jack*ss.

That Windows 8 is a very poor operating system. I shouldn't have to be certified on an operating system to figure out how to print or find basic controls like control panel. I will be downgrading to 7 after August if 8.1 is a bad as 8

Oh, here is a good one. Maybe POP3 email access. What a Joke!!!!

Seriously, can writers just say the damn month for a release schedule? Autumn in one country does not mean autumn in another.

/rant

8.1 sounds like it may be usable. We're on 8.0 now only because we need to support it as an IT support organization. For business, Windows 7 is superior in almost every respect. The trade rags speak to Windows 8 being more robust than previous operating systems. That is unequivocally. false. One would need to retrograde to Vista prior to any service packs to do worse.

From an environment standpoint, businesses buying multiple monitor workstations, Cut and paste between apps is a basic requirement these days. They would be far better served bringing the PC to the tablet, than the tablet to the PC. Metro has proven itself to be a failure since day one.

Of course You need 8.1 to install it as it is an update to Windows 8. it's not a whole new OS

we are all being robbed to some extent whatever we use

You guys are funny, each in their own little world

Can anyone confirm the release date of the Win 8.1 Pro to the Microsoft Volume Licensing site?

I've seen how Windows 8 works on one of my friends' laptop. I normally use Linux and I was totally flabergasted by the idiocy of the setup. That person with no knowledge of how to configure a computer had to ask third party people to change the Win8 settings to Win7 to start normally working. The new interface was totally unworkable!!! Then came a problem with removing some dodgy software that had to be removed. Well, good luck getting access as the local admin!!! What a piece.... I googled for 2 hours and could not come up with the solution how to enable the Admin account (Spanish version if Win8), as the Toshiba laptop setup kept refusing access to anything, as the only thing we had was a regular user account. I tried the Toshiba tools and - yes, we managed to change the password, but in no way I could figure out WHAT IS THE ADMIN ACCOUNT ! Never seen anything so stupid in my whole life. Lunatics designed the Win8 interface which is utterly unsuitable for working.

Ah, forgot to mention, we spent at least 1 hour to find out how to restore the Start button, at least we found a freeware tool and at last my friend could start working normally. What was wrong with the start button on the laptop? A smart phone is not a laptop, but a laptop is not a smartphone you idiots. Who buys a laptop to use it as a smartphone?

An operating system is but a tool. Just pick the right tool for the job.

If you want to play games, you want Windows.
If you want to hack and be all 1337, you want Linux.
However, if you have servers to run, what you really want is BSD.

bluray*

Sounds like a fun term, maybe I'll use it every now and then.

"there are webpages that will only work with Internet Explorer" - :D yeah, maybe from the noob developers (IE is the worst browser. Just look at the HTML5 or CSS3 support.)

You should have switched to Kingsoft Office. I use it and I have no compatibility problems. It also has the new (MSOffice2007+like) interface. I think Linux Mint is better than Ubuntu too. (I like the cinnamon)

If you want to Use Windows 8 and wants to use interface of windows 7 then install stardock Start8

I'd still prefer W7 any day as it still has a full start menu

Mac is just short for Macintosh just in case you really are that stupid and not failing at being a troll

Question : will all my data be deleted, my laptop HDD contains only C drive, one partition.........

Hi Tanzim, it depends what you are upgrading from. If it's Windows 8 to 8.1, data should remain in tact. However, Windows 7 to 8.1 - may result in data loss if it's a clean install.

My advice is to BACK UP everything important before embarking on any kind of OS update just in case.

Thanks
Khidr
IT Pro, Tech Ed.

JUST WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HOTMAIL you must have had thousands of unhappy people complaining, I have lost all my folders and contacts which are very important to me , if I could a would take you to court for conning me, my old address of blademan2011@hotmail.co.uk needs to be restored A.S.A.P the poxy new e mail address I have is blademan2011@outlook.com

You can't appreciate win 8 without a touchscreen tablet. I don't even think touch on a laptop makes much sense, or anything with keyboard and mouse, but when you lay your hands on one of the new ultra portable baytrail full windows 8.1 tablets then and only then will windows 8 anything make any sense to you. I've had my dell venue 8 pro 2 days and so far I give it two thumbs up as a consumer tablet. Not free of limitations or issues but damn, now I get it.
Go intel and Microsoft, I love where this is headed now.