Windows 8.1 Set For Launch October 18th, What You Need to Know

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News Posted: Sun, Aug 25 2013 2:37 PM

With the release of Windows 8.1 (coming as a free update) just around the corner (October 18th, to be exact), you may be wondering A) whether it's worth upgrading to and B) why that's the case. Well, as someone who's been rocking the 8.1 Preview release for a couple of months, I can say with assurance that it's well-worth upgrading to - if you happen to dig Windows 8 in general, that is. If you're not a fan of Microsoft's direction with the OS, there's little about 8.1 that's going change your mind. It's worth noting though that you can install a Start Menu replacement in 8.1 just as you can with 8.0.

A couple of months ago, I penned an article that took a look at 8.1's biggest features, and surprisingly, that was just the start of things: more features trickled out afterwards. In this post, I'll talk about a couple of the key features that make 8.1 worth it, but note that there are more, and possibly some features we don't even know about yet.

Improved Start Screen: While it's still no Start Menu, the enhancements Microsoft brings to 8.1 Start Screen-wise is hugely appreciated. For starters, you can make the background transparent, revealing your desktop wallpaper, and you can also name your groups, have greater control over tile size, gain much greater flexibility when choosing a color scheme if you stick to the vector wallpapers, and the search... "improved" is an understatement.

Windows 8.1 - Start Screen

Help & Tips: Something that should have launched with Windows 8 is a tutorial to teach people how to make the most of the OS - it was actually rather appalling to see this lacking given the major design shift Microsoft forced on those wanting to use the latest version of Windows. It's been fixed in 8.1, though, with videos to help you master not only the Start Screen, but some other parts of the OS as well. Who knows - even the Windows 8 veteran might stand to learn something.

Native 3D Printing: 3D printing still isn't "mainstream" by any standard, but it's definitely on its way there, and Microsoft proves it by implementing a native 3D printing environment inside of Windows 8.1. As we discovered last week, printing a 3D object is pretty standard fare, not much different than printing a piece of paper. I think Microsoft deserves some kudos for wasting no time in implementing this feature.

Improved 4K and Multi-Monitor Support: Windows 8 works just fine on 4K displays, but 8.1 will improve the flexibility - namely, it'll add an easy-to-access 200% DPI option, which will scale fonts to more comfortable levels on the massive resolution. On the multi-monitor front, per-display DPI settings is also being introduced, a rather major feature for those whose monitors are of different sizes.

SkyDrive Improvements: Windows 8 had some SkyDrive support, but 8.1 amplifies it, with automatic syncing and the ability to upload your photos at a different quality than the original. Courts recently ruled that Microsoft has to change the name of SkyDrive (thanks to BSkyB owning the rights to the name), but whenever the name update comes along, the functionality will remain the same. I don't personally use SkyDrive, but I'd be lying if I said the Windows integration didn't make me consider it.

Windows 8.1 - Improved Search

General Enhancements: There's quite a laundry list of various improvements coming to Windows 8.1. Boot-to-desktop is going to be appreciated by some, as will the general refinement of the "PC settings" screen. One feature I greatly appreciate is the ability to right-click the bottom left-hand corner, and then choose to shut down or restart right there. That's in no way as attractive as the Start menu solution of old, but it's much quicker than hitting-up the Charms bar to take care of it.

Windows 8.1 - Shutdown Shortcut

In addition, a lot of the bundled apps will be updated, although most of them weren't in the Preview release. Chances are good that when the 8.1 final gets here, we're going to be immediately discovering other improvements we weren't expecting. We've already learned quite a bit since the Preview release, so it's going to be fun to see what else will be discovered post-launch.

Above, I mentioned that I've been using 8.1 since the Preview came out, but this weekend, I reformatted and put 8 on (because I didn't want to use a "Preview" for a fresh install), and already I'm missing some of 8.1's features. Actually, I'm missing them a lot. October 18th sure can't get here quick enough.

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So does it suck a little less than Windows 8?

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RWilliams replied on Sun, Aug 25 2013 3:48 PM

Indeed, it sucks a lot less ;-)

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lol...its the same OS, how is it supposed to suck any less?

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Guess I will stay with my 7.....I tried the 8 and it really sucked......

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I will consider about that for my next build PC. I need take a good look at Windows 8.1. I still have Windows 7 on my 2 yrs old PC. no problem with it.

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JesseLiss replied on Sun, Aug 25 2013 6:58 PM

it only sucks if you're unwilling to learn how to use it. I've been using 8.1 for a while, and it works just fine. The only difference between 7 and 8 is the whole screen is the start button. Pin your most used programs to the start screen and taskbar, and there's very little, and it's no different from windows 7.

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I gave it a shot.....I did not enjoy deleting each email one by one on my MSN account......Now I can quickly delete my emails.......I see nothing about Windows 8 that is an improvement over 7 for someone with a desktop.....

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I'm willing to bet it will be as unpopular as Vista was......

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How much is this upgrade going to cost?

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realneil replied on Sun, Aug 25 2013 7:49 PM

How much will it cost us,...or Microsoft? Ha-Ha!

Windows seven's still working great, no need for eight! Damn Straight!

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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they can keep their un secure un reliable un attractive non user friendly os im done with windows. linux from now on.

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go back further and think about Millennium edition lol

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flop flop floppity flop flop

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RWilliams replied on Sun, Aug 25 2013 10:34 PM

It's a free update to those who own Windows 8. The stand-alone version in the store would cost the same as Windows 8 does today (varies, depending on version).

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lifeasjosh replied on Sun, Aug 25 2013 11:07 PM

Heres an idea, when XP was around, in terms of selling and being loaded on new computers, look at how much market share windows had. Why not just revamp XP with all the latest drivers, codex's and what not, like directx 12 or 13 which one their on now and leave the GUI the same, why won't this work? Wasn't is because of how well xp just worked that it became popular?

I'm really not a big fan of windows 7 either. Why does it take 1.5 gigs to run windows 7 on idle? I can use just 120megs on xp. Windows Vista, 7, and 8 are all resource hogs.

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think its free if you already own windows 8

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sevags replied on Mon, Aug 26 2013 1:56 AM

Lifeasjosh; do you realize how much more complex windows vista, 7, and 8 all are over windows xp?! Of COURSE they are going to look like resource hogs compared. Better get used to it that's how software works as it advances it will need more and more resources to operate and that include ram. Look at cellphones they used to have cache on the MB level then it was 256, 512, 1gb, with current mobile OS's shipping with 2gb or more. You call this becoming a resource hog, I say things are just advancing. Btw even though XP used less ram it used that ram less efficiently than windows 7 and 8, even vista though vista came at a time when PC's of that age didn't have enough ram and ram wasn't as cheap.

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ECouts replied on Mon, Aug 26 2013 2:32 AM

No...it just finds new ways to suck.

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"Above, I mentioned that I've been using 8.1 since the Preview came out, but this weekend, I reformatted and put 8 on (because I didn't want to use a "Preview" for a fresh install), and already I'm missing some of 8.1's features. Actually, I'm missing them a lot. October 18th sure can't get here quick enough."

I don't understand that bit. A fresh install replaces everything, so it wouldn't matter what previous OS revision you had. There'd be only Windows 8.1.

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sevags replied on Mon, Aug 26 2013 10:37 AM

Guppy; he is saying he didn't want his fresh istall o whateve OS to be a prevew copy he wanted to install a full version andsince .1 isn't out yet he i talked YE newest full version mS oS, 8.0.

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RWilliams replied on Mon, Aug 26 2013 10:57 AM

Yes, that's just it. I had to reformat because things were going a little bonkers with my rig (perhaps a result of installing Windows on top of itself multiple times), and it made no sense to install the Preview, because it's not a final, stable release. I'd just have to reformat -again- when 8.1 got here to install the final. It just made more sense to go with the stable OS and upgrade again to 8.1 when it means I won't have to reformat.

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LozanoOzzo replied on Mon, Aug 26 2013 11:48 AM

0

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sevags replied on Tue, Aug 27 2013 2:03 AM

Mr Williams, I am really impressed you were able to understand my horrific iPhone typing LOL

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detnight replied on Fri, Aug 30 2013 6:12 PM

bought my wife a new computer with win8 and after several hrs loading all of stuff(300gig+) , pictures and files. If I don't like win8 I know she could never get used to using it. She does not like or do well with change. So I ordered a new copy of win 7...............

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