Microsoft Makes Windows 8.1 “Blue” Preview Available for Download

Microsoft Windows 8.1 “Blue” Available for Public Download

by Anton Shilov
06/26/2013 | 10:46 PM

 

 

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced the immediate availability of the Windows 8.1 Preview, the next update of the Windows operating system, at the company’s developer-focused Build conference. Microsoft Windows 8.1 is expected to improve performance, power efficiency and user experience on both new and existing PCs.

As part of the conference’s keynote speech, the company outlined the reach, design and economic opportunities for developers to build differentiated, touch-based apps for the Windows platform, including new developer tools and increased support. Company executives also highlighted new top apps coming to Windows.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was joined on stage by Julie Larson-Green, corporate vice president of Windows, and other company executives to demo the Windows 8.1 Preview, focusing on key areas of personalization, search powered by Bing, increased functionality for businesses, new in-the-box apps and more.

“With Windows 8 we built a new Windows, reimagined from the chipset to the experience. It was an ambitious vision, and with Windows 8.1 we refine it. Windows 8.1 will support the widest range of tablets and PCs and demonstrates how responsive we can be for customers. The preview we are releasing today is an important step for partners around the world that are building the next generation of Windows devices and apps,” said Ms. Larson-Green

Among other things, Windows 8.1 returns Start button to the bottom left corner of the desktop. What is important is that when clicked onto, the Start button trigger the new Start screen when clicked, and not the legacy Start menu. Once the button is clicked, it will remain displayed on the desktop going forward; those, who use hardware Start button on keyboards, will get Windows 8 Start screen.


Screenshot originally published by Supersite for Windows

In Windows 8.1, users will be able to substitute the stock Start screen with the All Apps view, a set of tile-like icons for every installed program, but no live updating functionality. Users will also be able to arrange the icons by usage, allowing the most commonly used apps to be first. This view is the closest it is possible to get to the Windows 7 Start Menu, albeit it will be full-screen, not a list.

As expected, Windows 8.1 will allow to boot directly to desktop and skip the Windows 8 Start Screen. 

 
Screenshot originally published by Supersite for Windows

Microsoft Windows 8.1 will be delivered as a free and seamless update to Windows 8 and to Windows RT, which means that customers today who have Windows 8 or who plan to buy a new device will get all the advantages of Windows 8.1.

Microsoft will first demonstrate Windows 8.1 updates at Build conference June 26th in San Francisco. A public preview of Windows 8.1 will be available for anyone to download at that point.

Previously it was reported that Microsoft was to return Start menu and allow skip the Metro UI Start screen with the Windows 8.1 update. In addition, it is projected that the “Blue” updates will improve battery life on new-generations of microprocessors and will possible bring other performance advantages. While the full picture of Blue updates remains generally unfinished, the enhancements of Windows 8.1 over Windows 8 have already been published: