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Download and Install Windows 8.1, Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1 Previews

Microsoft kicks off //BUILD 2013 developer conference, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, demostrating the Preview of Windows 8.1.

On stage, Steve Ballmer stated that “rapid release” is the new norm for Microsoft and that consumers should expect the rapid updates to Windows and other platforms to continue into the future.

Some of the new features, included in the Windows 8.1 preview are: two new tile sizes (large and small) on the My Start screen, and the ability to sync customizations, apps and files across all your Windows 8.1 devices.

In other words, “if you change your Start screen, install new apps, pin new apps to your Start screen on one PC – all those changes are synced to your other PCs,” Microsoft explains.

A single search now brings you results from your PC, your apps, and the web. See results in a clean, graphic view that lets you take immediate action and launch apps. Search, click, do. Find a song and start playing it, or find a video and watch it right away all powered by Bing.

Windows 8.1 Preview: Bing powered Search

Julie Larson-Green held up the Acer Iconia W3, which is distributed free to attendees and showed off the reading experience with the Nook app version 1.5.

Julie also demoed the new Mail app coming for Windows 8.1 later this year, the new search experience powered by Bing, the redesigned Xbox Music app, new apps from Bing, and seamlessly playing videos from a PC with Windows 8.1 to the Xbox One.

Ballmer announced that Facebook, Flipboard and NFL apps will soon arrive for Windows. “These marquee apps, along with other apps announced as part of the Windows 8.1 update, are testament to the steady momentum of app development for the Windows platform,” he said.

Bing also unveiled two stunning new apps of its own, Food & Drink and Health & Fitness, both of which are included in the Windows 8.1 preview.

Also, the Windows Store has been redesigned to a new look and makes it easier to discover and download new apps. Also, included with Windows 8.1 Preview are the new apps that let you do a bunch of cool things. For example, the Camera app can shoot 8 frames per second before, during, and after you push the button. So you never miss a shot.

Windows 8.1 Preview : Windows Store

In the video below Ted Dworkin’s shows about the new Windows Store design and opportunities to promote and monetize your apps.

  • You can also set up a slide show on your “lock screen” by picking your favorite pictures.

    Windows 8.1 Preview Lock Screen

  • Also, you can now choose from more tile sizes, more colors, and more backgrounds–including animated backgrounds.
  • new Internet Explorer 11 Preview, built for touch, with faster load times, a full-screen experience that includes side-by-side browsing of your sites, and real-time info delivered on your Start screen through live tiles for your favorite sites.

    Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond confirmed that IE11 will indeed support WebGL too.

  • SkyDrive is now the default location for saving documents. So you always have your files wherever you go, even when you’re offline. And with the included SkyDrive app, you can manage both local files and SkyDrive files in one place.
  • revamped WebView control now supports more scenarios and is easier to integrate into your apps. Plus the WebView is now available to apps written in HTML and JavaScript! “We’ve introduced new controls, like the Hub control, that make it easier to create beautiful layout and navigation experiences in your app,” Microsoft stated.

  • It’s also now easier to interface your apps with devices that Windows knows about, such as scanners, 3D printers, smart cards and more. “With built-in support for 3D printing, making a 3D object on your PC will be as easy as writing a document in Word and sending it to print,” Microsoft stated adding, “A new API will let developers on its platform put 3D printing capabilities right into their apps, so that you’ll be able to print that elegant ashtray you’re modelling right on the spot,” Microsoft said.

  • Microsoft also made it easier to communicate with your own custom devices via new WinRT APIs for Bluetooth, HID, and USB without the need to write your own drivers.

Outlook 2013 RT now lets you send and receive far more e-mail than is healthy, and I use a lot of the power features that are served up via the ribbon at the top of the screen (! anyone?). This is a huge addition to Surface RT for me. Remember that Surface Pro customers will still purchase Office separately.

Reading List in the Windows 8.1 Preview uses the Share charm–to add items to Reading List, swipe in from the right of the screen (with the article open) and select ‘share’, then Reading List. It works with web content on Internet Explorer as well as articles within apps like News and Wikipedia. It also syncs across other Windows 8.1 Preview devices.

Windows RT 8.1 Preview onscreen keyboard anticipates what your writing and offers up three words as options while you type. A tap on the spacebar selects the word, adds an extra space.

Windows 8.1 Preview for Surface RT: Onscreen touch Keyboard

Leblond outlined the opportunity Windows 8.1 provides for developers to design, build and market their Windows Store apps, as well as a few updates that will further help them:

  • “Redesigned Windows Store. The Windows Store has been completely redesigned in Windows 8.1 to reach customers and connect them more quickly to the apps they want.
  • More monetization opportunities. Windows 8.1 delivers new opportunities for developers to build and monetize apps and engage users, including Windows Store gift cards and the ability for customers to load their Microsoft Account with stored value in their local currency and make purchases online from the Windows Store.
  • Leading experiences. Windows 8.1 offers developers a canvas to present and develop compelling app designs. Windows 8.1 apps can work together to share data, share the screen and deliver richer customer experiences across a range of devices, including new 8-inch-and-below form factors.”

There are “over 5,000 new APIs in Windows 8.1” available to developers that enable more powerful Windows Store and Windows desktop apps.

In addition, Microsoft also announced Visual Studio 2013 Preview available today. For developers, “Visual Studio 2013 makes it easier and faster for them to create apps and services.” And “.NET 4.5.1 enables developers to build next generation apps for devices and services,” Microsoft stated.

.NET 4.5.1 is a highly-compatible, in-place update for .NET 4.5 that ships as part of Windows 8.1. “The .NET 4.5.1 Preview installs as part of Visual Studio 2013 Preview, is included in all installations of Windows 8.1 Preview, and is also available for separate installation into Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and the corresponding Windows Server releases,” Microsoft stated.

Visual Studio 2013 will feature Agile project management features, improved version control solution, as well as the ability to see key insights into your code that you are working on.

There are also improvements to app testing. “We’ve been building out the test case management capabilities to allow you to more fully manage your test plans without having to switch to the Test Professional client. You can now create/modify test plans, suites and shared steps on the web. We’ve also improved test editing by enabling you to add step attachments, use shared steps, parameterize step data and more,” the company explained.

Visual Studio 2013 also features a new service called “Cloud Load Testing”, which allows developers to load test their apps without configuring any infrastructure. “We think this is going to be particularly valuable for people building Azure applications who want to verify the scalability of their apps before opening them to a broad user base,” Microsoft explains.

“You’ll need a Team Foundation Service account to use the cloud load testing but you don’t have to use the account for anything but load testing if you don’t want to. Go to http://tfs.visualstudio.com to sign up. You can use the Visual Studio Ultimate Edition Preview to create a load test and then open the Local.testsettings file and select “Run tests using Visual Studio Team Foundation Service”. Then you just run the load test.”

Visual Studio 2013 Preview Cloud Load Testing

Microsoft has also acquired the InRelease release management product from InCycle Software and added that feature to Visual Studio 2013 to allow for better release management.

Also, the “cloud build service” is updated in this release to support “Windows 8.1 Images” – which means that you can now build Windows store apps. “By default you’ll continue to use the older build image but you can opt in to use the new image. Go to the Builds tab in Team Explorer and click the options drop down and select “Manage Build Controllers”. From that dialog, you can choose the Windows 8.1 based build pool.lso improved software development team collaboration with this new update,” explains Microsoft.

And, the new “Connected IDE,” lets you actually log in to Visual Studio and gain benefits such as new “Roaming Settings”. “Visual Studio will use your online profile to allow you to roam your Visual Studio settings across machines. So when you log into a new machine VS will automatically sync your VS settings and customize the environment the way you like it.”

In the video below, Microsoft offer overview of the VS 2013 Preview that offers lots of exciting new features across Windows Store, Desktop and Web development.

The video covers the following topics in this episode:

  • “Recap of Team Foundation Service announcements from TechEd [02:00], including Team Rooms for collaboration, Code Comments in changesets, mapping backlog items to features
  • IDE improvements [11:00], including more color and redesigned icons, undockable Pending Changes window, Connected IDE and synchronized settings
  • Productivity improvements [17:00], including CodeLens indicators showing references, changes and unit test results, enhanced scrollbar, Peek Definition for inline viewing of definitions
  • Web development improvements [28:00], including Browser Link for connecting Visual Studio directly to browsers, One ASP.NET
  • Debugging and diagnostics improvements [37:00], including edit and continue in 64-bit projects, managed memory analysis in memory dump files, Performance and
  • Diagnostics hub to centralize analysis tools [44:00], async debugging [51:00]
  • Windows Store app development improvements, including new project templates [40:00], Energy Consumption and XAML UI Responsiveness Analyzers [45:00], new controls in XAML and JavaScript [55:00], enhanced IntelliSense and Go To Definition in XAML files [1:00:00]”

You can now download Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1 Previews here.

Microsoft is providing the Windows 8.1 Preview update either from the Windows Store like any other app update, or as a stand-alone ISO that would allow you to set up a dual-boot configuration and install the operating system on a different partition.

To install the Windows 8.1 Preview, go to the Windows 8.1 Preview page on Windows.com, using either any of the follwing links: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/download-preview, http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=301772, http://prev.windows.microsoft.com/en-001/windows-8/preview-download.

Or, visit Windows Store on your Windows 8 desktop or tablet, and make sure to backup any files you have on your PC or tablet first, before you install the Preview.

TechNet link: http://goo.gl/YDDiA, or download the ISO here and install using the following Product Key: NTTX3-RV7VB-T7X7F-WQYYY-9Y92F.

Resources links:

  • Windows 8.1 Preview FAQ for the minimum requirements.
  • Windows 8.1 Preview Product Guide offer high-level overview of what’s new.
  • Get new SDKs, tools, and code samples at Windows Dev Center downloads page.
  • Product Guide for Developers,
  • Feature Guide for feature-by-feature overview with pointers to the new how-to documentation so you can dig in.
  • migration guide helps you make the necessary changes to get your app running properly on Windows 8.1 Preview. It also contains helpful tips on how to use Windows 8.1 Preview to improve your app and how to take full advantage of the new features and controls.
  • “Retargeting your project in Visual Studio 2013 Preview.
  • Handling the various changes made to the WinRT and UI (XAML or HTML) platforms.
  • Supporting the new fluid window sizes.”

Windows 8.1 Preview has many new features that’ll make it easier for you to build rich and powerful apps for your customers. You can get Windows 8.1 Preview by going to http://preview.windows.com and then go to the Windows Dev Center Downloads page to get new SDKs, tools, and code samples.

Installing Windows 8.1 Preview via Windows Store:

Use the links above to go to the Windows 8.1 Preview page on Windows.com. Note: If you are on Windows RT and have installed a language pack, please “don’t install the Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time.” Microsoft said a fix is coming soon–check back later this post.

Windows 8.1 RT Preview Installation error screen

Before you begin installing preview, you need to install a small update provided on the Preview page that enables Windows 8 to offer the Windows 8.1 Preview update through the Windows Store. After the update is installed, you will need to reboot your PC. When Windows 8.1 is released, this update to the Windows Store will be installed automatically by Windows Update.

Install update through Windows Store to setup Windows 8.1 Preview

You will be greeted with a message to install the Windows 8.1 Preview when logging back in to your PC after reboot. To commence with the install of the Windows 8.1 Preview – press “Go to the Store.”

message to install Windows 8.1 Preview via Windows Store

You will be taken to the Windows Store page for the Windows 8.1 Preview where you can click “Download” to install the Windows 8.1 Preview. Here, you will also find links for more information about the Windows 8.1 Preview including the FAQwhich I recommend reading before proceeding with the install.

Windows Store page for Windows 8.1 Preview Download and install

Then Windows 8.1 Preview will download. Before it installs, it will do a series of compatibility checks to make sure your PC can run the Preview. If an issue is found, the installation won’t proceed.

Please note: Some tablets and PCs running newer 32-bit Atom processors require updates to their graphics drivers before they can run the Windows 8.1 Preview. Those tablets and PCs include the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, ASUS VivoTab TF810C, HP Envy X2, HP ElitePad 900, Samsung ATIV Smart PC, and Fujitsu ARROWS Tab. We are working closely with Intel and OEM partners to deliver updated drivers that will allow you to install the Windows 8.1 Preview as soon as possible.

If everything checks out, your PC may reboot a few times as the Windows 8.1 Preview installs!

After the installation completes, there will be a few more screens to click through. To take full-on advantage of the new cloud connectivity in the Windows 8.1 Preview, you will need to sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account. And make sure you take a look at the beta fish tattoo for the Start screen – watch its bubbles move.

Windows 8.1 Preview Start Screen

Update 06/27: Microsoft just shared some deployment tools and guideance to depliy Windows 8.1 beta.

“For those using earlier operating systems, the OS refresh processes implemented by the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and System Center Configuration Manager (or other similar tools) can be used to automate the move to Windows 8.1 while preserving data and settings, and can also install any needed applications as part of that process,” the company wrote.

Also, check out these stesp to install the Windows 8.1 Preview:

If you have…

Consider these options

Computers running Windows 8 , Windows 8 Pro (retail- or OEM-activated), or Windows RT

Following the steps on the Windows 8.1 Preview website to install an update to enable the preview installation via the Windows Store, then install from the Windows Store.

Computers running earlier operating systems, or ones to be used for a clean (bare metal) installation

Download the Windows 8.1 ISO file. Use this with MDT 2013 or System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2 to refresh existing computers, or burn to a DVD or copy to a USB key for simple installation.

Computers running Windows 8 Pro, volume activated

Download the Windows 8.1 ISO file. Use this media to either:

  • Perform an in-place update of existing Windows 8 Pro installations
  • Refresh existing computers using MDT 2013 or System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2
  • Burn to a DVD or copy to a USB key for simple installation

Computers running Windows 8 Enterprise

Wait for the availability of the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview ISO, which should be available in the coming weeks. Watch for an announcement on this blog when it is available.

Microsoft further notes, that while computers running Windows 8.1 Preview can be updated to the final Windows 8.1 release, “this update process will only migrate the data on the device.”

All applications (from the Windows Store or desktop applications) will need to be reinstalled as part of this process. To illustrate:

If you are currently running…

Going to…

This will migrate:

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 Preview

All data, settings, and applications

Windows 8

Windows 8.1 final release

All data, settings, and applications

Windows 8.1 Preview

Windows 8.1 final release

Only data

Attendes of the //BUILD 2013 received the free first 8-inch Windows tablet — the Intel AtomTM Z2760 processor-based Acer Iconia W3, and also a Microsoft Surface Pro, which leverages the 3rd generation Intel Core processor.

Build attendees will also receive 100 GB of extra storage for one year on SkyDrive, which makes it easy to store and access their files from anywhere.

Update 06/27: Microsoft on stage at TechEd Europe in Madrid, demonstrated the Windows 8.1 for Business user interface and how integration with technologies like SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, or Work Folders enables business users to stay in touch with everything important for them, both at work and in their personal life. That includes access to their data, UI settings and Windows Store apps from anywhere, on any Windows 8.1 device.

“User experience and app improvements are a big part of the Windows 8.1 update, and so are business-centric features such as NFC-tagged and Wi-Fi connected devices to improve mobile productivity. Security enhancements include fingerprint-based biometrics and multi-factor authentication using Virtual Smart Cards,” Jon DeVaan noted.

Additionally, “Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) management improvements are a key part of the Windows 8.1 update, and include the ability to remotely wipe data from a device and support for Mobile Device Management solutions by leading MDM vendors,” he said.

New management capabilities in the Windows 8.1 for business for the Start screen now allow IT pros to deliver standardized Start screen layouts for their companies, while Assigned Access enables single-application experiences on a device, which is ideal in common customer-facing scenarios, such as selecting car features on a device at an auto dealership.

Here is a guide to get into the Windows Start-up Settings, including safe mode in Windows 8. Advanced start-up lets you do things such as start in:

  • “Debugging mode
  • Enable boot logging
  • Enable low-resolution video
  • Safe Mode
  • Safe mode with networking
  • Safe mode with Command Prompt
  • Disable driver signature enforcement
  • Disable early launch anti-malware protection
  • Disable automatic restart after failure
  • Directory Services Restore Mode .”

“If you’re not signed in to Windows, tap or click the power icon windows 8 advanced settings: power iconfrom the sign-in screen, hold Shift, then tap or click Restart.” Or, “if you’re already signed in”:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, then tap Change PC settings.

    (If you’re using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Under PC settings, tap or click General.
  3. Under Advanced start-up, tap or click Restart now.
  4. On the Choose an option screen, tap or click Troubleshoot.
  5. Tap or click Start-up Settings.
  6. Tap or click Restart.
  7. On the Start-up Settings screen, choose the start-up setting you want.
  8. Sign in to your PC with a user account that has administrator rights, explains Microsoft.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft is also making it much eaiser to change the product keys from both Metro and desktop.

While accessing the dedicated Metro options is as easy as typing “product key” on the Start screen and hitting enter, the desktop product key changer can be simply launched by typing “slui” in a standard run dialog.

Windows 8.1 Preview New Product Key Feature

Also, if you want to directly boot in to the desktop, you simply turn on the dedicated option to skip Metro and boot straight to the desktop.

The feature is located in the “Taskbar and Navigation” properties screen that can be easily accessed by right-clicking on the Taskbar. Go over to the “Navigation” panel and look down in the Start screen section. Enable the first option called “Go to desktop instead of Start when I sign in,” hit apply and then close the window, as all modifications are automatically saved.

To create “God Mode” in Windows 8.1 Preview, create a new folder on your desktop and name it as God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}, and hit enter to save. The default folder icon should now resemble the one being used by the built-in Control Panel, so you can simply double-click it to access all available options, including disk management tools, VPN options, and user accounts.

Windows 8.1 Preview Enabling God Mode

Also, with preview release. Microsoft has implemented a different way to close Metro apps, “users are now required to drag the target application to the bottom of the screen and wait for a few moments to close the app. The app will then flip and show its logo before getting fully closed.”

However, Windows 8 dragging technique still exists but it now only suspends the app.

Also, a new Video Library app for Windows 8, includes over 4,000 videos from the Microsoft Research archives that feature noteworthy research and perspectives from leading tech idols of all stripes.

You’ll find some rare gems among them, Knies notes, such as the influential “Messenger Lectures” given by physicist Richard Feynman at Cornell University in 1964.

“Using the beautiful touch interface of Windows 8, the library includes the fascinating Microsoft Research Visiting Speaker Series and hundreds of videos produced to showcase the research that plays such a seminal role in Microsoft products.”

Microsoft Research Video Library app is available in the Windows Store.

microsoft research video library app for windows 8

windows 8.1 preview fish wallpaper

Update 06/28: SkyDrive Pro apps for Windows 8 and iOS are now available in the Windows Store and Apple Store respectively for SharePoint Online users in Office 365.

“You can use the SkyDrive Pro apps to view documents in your SkyDrive Pro folder, select specific content to take offline when you are traveling or have low bandwidth, organize your content by creating new folders, and upload new content and share with others.”

Microsoft’s Bounty Programs openend for vulnerabilities and bugs in Windows 8.1 Preview and Internet Explorer 11 Preview.

  • “Mitigation Bypass Bounty. Up to $100,000 for truly novel exploitation techniques against protections built into Windows 8.1 Preview.
  • BlueHat Bonus for Defense. Additionally, Microsoft will pay up to $50,000 for defensive ideas that accompany a qualifying Mitigation Bypass submission.
  • Internet Explorer 11 Preview Bug Bounty. Up to $11,000 for critical vulnerabilities that affect IE 11 Preview on Windows 8.1 Preview.”

Check out here.

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