In case you missed it, the latest release of Windows 8 is now available – Windows 8.1 I wanted to share a bit about the update. A reminder that I am a part of the Windows Champions team and I do receive certain perks for this, but opinions are truly my own.
One of the best ways for me to describe Windows 8.1 is that it is like a smartphone sort of in appearance. You have apps (applications) that appear as icons on your screen – just like on your smartphone. Just tap or click on any of them to open them up. You can move the tiles around to customize your computer based on what you use the most or grouping types of apps or whatever method you opt for. This is the beginning of my main Start Screen. Right now you can enter a #MyStart Twitter Sweepstakes from Windows also by taking a screenshot of your Windows 8.1 start screen and sharing on Twitter including @Windows and #MyStart in the tweet.
While 8.1 has some great improvements over 8, the basic feel is still the same. A few of the differences are…
Even Better Searching
Frankly, I think Microsoft does an amazing job with search functions. I already loved it, but now they have integrated Bing into the search and so not only will you find files, photos, etc. on your own machine within a search, but also what is on the web. Not only is it all there, but it is visually very appealing as you move from left to right thru the results. Hover or touch the top right of the screen to bring the charms menu out and click the top icon for search. Here are just the first 2 areas on search results for “George Clooney”. You can see it found a file and an image I had on my machine, then a nice photo and quick bio, and then more photos, TV and movies, and much more. Very impressive!
For whatever reason people freaked out about not having a start button in Windows 8. I am not sure why, but many did. In 8.1 the start button is back. Instead of it bringing up the menu lists though it brings up your main screen with your tiles. I circled it in the screenshot below.
Easier Organization and Lists
It is more clear now in Windows 8.1 how to see all of your apps and how to customize them. While the previous version was very clean and streamlined, people could not always find the areas they needed to do this. On the main screen at the bottom left is a down arrow that will lead you to a full list of your apps.
For customizing, just right click on an empty area of your main screen and you will see a customize button appear in the lower right.
SkyDrive Multiple Options
I love, love, love my SkyDrive. It is a cloud storage service from Microsoft, but really so much more. I use it multiple times every single day. Now with Windows 8.1 you can save your files just to your device or to the cloud for use on all your devices. There are some pros to having them saved only to your device in that you will save space in the cloud. While you get a lot of free space and can purchase more, if you are doing large photos, videos, etc. it can eat up space quickly.
One thing you will definitely want to set up is a Microsoft account. This connects all your devices, contacts, email, etc. together so you have continuity across all of your devices and wherever you are in the world on a connected PC.
Once you have upgraded to Windows 8.1 be sure to visit the Windows Store to update your apps and find lots of new apps, including an official Facebook app. I am constantly finding new apps to try out. There are lots of free apps, paid apps, and I love the ones that offer a free trial of an app to decide if it is right for you before you have to purchase it.
Another thing to consider is that the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets are here. I have an original Surface RT tablet already which I really like, but I am hoping to upgrade to a Surface Pro 2 soon to replace my laptop altogether. I know that iPads are really popular, and they are not a bad product, but if you use a Windows based computer the rest of the time then you really should consider a Windows based tablet like the Surface line.
As I have said before, I really am a big fan of Microsoft products and the Windows operating system. That is why I enjoy being a part of the Windows Champions team so much – because I am that person who really uses these things day in and day out and they really work for me.
Have you upgraded to Windows 8.1 yet? What do you think? Do you have any questions I can try and answer?