First Official Look at Windows Blue a.k.a Windows 8.1 Features

Public preview of Windows Blue (Windows 8.1) is due out on June 26--Microsoft preview features including the enhanced personalization, search capabilities, Start button and more.

Windows 8.1 will advance the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of PCs, tablets, and a range of industry devices, and the experiences customers -- both consumers and businesses alike -- need and will just expect moving forward.

In a official blog post today, Microsoft unveil all the upcoming features of the new Windows 8.1 emphasizing that "Windows 8.1 respond to customer feedback." Along side new features and functionality that will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas like Start screen personalization, search charm, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, cloud connectivity, and better Mouse and Keyboard options.

Windows 8.1 will also include big bets for business in areas such as management and security - "we'll have more to say on these next week at TechEd North America," Microsoft wrote.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen personalization: more colors and wallpapers support

"We've improved the way you navigate to Start with the mouse by changing the Start "tip" to be the familiar Windows logo. The new tip appears anytime you move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen, and is always visible on the taskbar when on the desktop. There are also options to change what the corners do," the blog post stated.

Further, Microsoft notes, that it's bringing back the Start Button, and is supposedly will look just like the Start Button that is currently part of the Charms menu in Windows 8: An angled, stylized window. It likely will be turned on by default, but can be turned off for those who like the Start Button-free design that debuted with Windows 8.

This new button will sit on the taskbar in Windows 8.1, in the same place and in the same way that the "old"/current Start Button does with Windows 7 Start Menu, "except it's full screen."

The Apps List in Windows 8.1, in addition to listing apps, also allows you to search for apps directly from the list, as well as list apps by 'most used' or 'last installed'.

Along with the new tile sizes, the Start Screen is said to allow users to select the same background the desktop uses.

In addition, boot-to-desktop (or boot into alternate screens) functionality is also returning back with 8.1. 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."

On the personalization front, users can quickly turn their Windows 8 tablets, into a full-featured picture frame by setting up the lock screen to display a slide show of pictures. The feature will support both local folders and SkyDrive accounts.

Users will also be able to take pictures with the built-in camera without having to log in.

Windows 8.1 offers more colors and backgrounds for the Start screen - including ones with motion--as well as users would be allowed to use the desktop wallpaper as a Start Screen background, the compay said.

"You can now select multiple apps all at once, resize them, uninstall them, or rearrange them. In Windows 8.1, you can press and hold (or right click) to move things around," the post said.

The new Start Screen will allow you to filter apps by name, date installed, most used, or by category. "So when you install a new app from the Windows Store, we no longer put that app on your Start screen. Instead, you'll find these apps under apps view as mentioned above and marked as 'new' where you can choose to pin the apps you want to your Start screen," the company explained.

The new Search Charm will be powered by Bing and allows you to search everything, including local files and folders, apps, SkyDrive, setting, the web and even actions you can take.

Quick actions include things you would want to do like play a song or video.

Windows Store redesign show more info with detailed lists of top free apps, new releases, and picks for you on the homepage.

The app listing is more descriptive and informative and includes an area for related apps to help with app discovery. Categories are listed with other app commands such as links to your apps and your account information. App updates install automatically in the background as well as they come through the Store. And search is available in the upper right hand corner for finding the apps you want.

Also, improvements for using multiple apps at once in Windows 8.1 are incorporated.

"You can resize apps to any size you want, share the screen between two apps, or have up to three apps on each screen if you have a multiple displays connected, you can have different Windows Store apps running on all the displays at the same time and the Start Screen can stay open on one monitor."

"The app listing is more descriptive and informative and includes an area for related apps to help with app discovery. Categories are listed with other app commands such as links to your apps and your account information," Microsoft noted.

windows 8.1 : windows store apps

And, the improved Mail, SkyDrive, Camera, and Music app all will come with new features, plus support for the brand new 50-50 snap view mode.

Windows 8.1 will also allow saving files directly to SkyDrive, so you can always have your files with you. Also, "when you log on to your Windows 8.1 device with your Microsoft account ( by default), your device magically becomes personalized with your settings and apps, making switching or setting up a new device really easy," Microsoft notes.

windows 8.1 save files directly to skydrive

Internet Explorer 11 launching with Windows 8.1 will offer better touch performance, faster page load times and new features that for example will allow you to "adjust the appearance of modern IE11 to always show the address bar and you can have as many open tabs as you like. And you can access your open tabs in sync across your other Windows 8.1 devices."

8.1 will also feature better mouse and keyboard support improvements "to ensure easier navigation for people using non-touch devices."

internet explorer 11 (ie11) teaser