With Windows 8.1 Microsoft has attempted to fix a lot of the things that were wrong with Windows 8, and make the operating system more appealing by throwing a bunch of additional features into the mix. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it is a massive improvement over its predecessor.
If you’re planning on updating your computer to the new OS, or are still on the fence and need a little nudge to join the tiled side, let me take you on a guided tour of what’s new.
It’s nearly a year since Microsoft released the divisive Windows 8, and this week sees the launch of Windows 8.1 -- an update to the tiled operating system that aims to fix many of the perceived wrongs of the first version, while introducing some very welcome new features.
If you’re a Windows 8 or RT user you’ll be able to download the update for free starting at 4AM PDT (that’s 12pm in the UK) on 17 October. You’ll be able to get it directly through the Windows Store.
With not long to go now until the general availability of Windows 8.1 on 18 October, Microsoft is attempting to get potential upgraders excited by highlighting the new operating system’s apps and services in a blog series called "Right from the Start".
The latest post covers Internet Explorer 11, and there’s lots of new and improved features in the updated veteran browser. "We are proud of the new Internet Explorer and how far the browser has come and we know that users will be impressed, too!" enthuses Ryan Gavin, General Manager, Microsoft Apps & Services.
There’s not long to go now until Microsoft unleashes Windows 8.1 upon the world. In my view the operating system refresh is Windows 8 done properly, but whether it does enough to win over the masses remains to be seen.
Certainly Microsoft will be hoping for a change in fortunes because the tiled operating system's market share is currently pretty poor -- at least when you factor in how much of a push the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has put behind it.
After saying everyone except hardware partners would need to wait until next month to get their hands on Windows 8.1, Microsoft last week relented and made the RTM available to developers and IT professionals.
Oddly there was no sign of the Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM at the time, with Microsoft saying only that it would be available later this month. Fortunately, it turns out the wait wasn’t a long one, as the build is now available for Volume License customers as well as TechNet and MSDN subscribers.
I’ve already declared my love for Windows 8.1, and got used to the fact that the Start menu, as we’ve always known it, is no more. I find the Apps screen pretty much fine to work with (certainly better than the Start screen), but there are still times when I miss the ease and speed of launching programs from a Start menu on the desktop.
If you can’t get on with the Start screen in Windows 8, and the Apps screen in 8.1 doesn’t really appeal, there are plenty of alternative Start buttons and menus available to download, either for free or a nominal amount. One of the most popular free choices is the freshly updated Classic Shell.
As soon as Microsoft announced it was making Windows 8.1 RTM available to IT professionals I logged into my MSDN account and started downloading the ISO for it. The size of the file varies depending on the edition you download -- approx. 3,537MB for the x64 version, and 2,643MB for the x86 release.
You can install Windows 8.1 from directly inside Windows 8/Windows 8.1 Preview. Just launch the setup.exe inside the ISO and windows will prepare the files and launch the installer. It’s all plain sailing at this point.
Two weeks ago I wrote a piece called Microsoft, if you want apps for Windows 8.1, don’t piss off developers in which I expressed disbelief that Microsoft wasn’t making the RTM build of Windows 8.1 available to app creators. Microsoft’s plan was to only release the RTM to hardware makers, which seemed a crazy decision.
Fortunately, Microsoft has once again listened to the complaints and performed one of its frequent U-turns, announcing that developers and IT professionals will now be able to get their hands on the Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro RTM builds early -- from today in fact.
The countdown to Windows 8.1 is officially on. Whoever thinks that Windows 8.1 is squarely a consumer-centric release is heavily mistaken. After spending a month with Windows 8.1 Pro on my Thinkpad X230 Tablet, I can definitively say that Windows 8.1 is shaping up as a rock-solid option for the enterprise. I've previously written about why businesses should have been considering Windows 8 for their next upgrade cycles. With 8.1, Microsoft's latest OS is a service pack on more than a few steroids.
By any measure, I've been a vocal, bullish early adopter of Windows 8. My day to day consulting work for customers doesn't allow me to stay stuck on previous generations of Windows. Even if I did prefer Windows 7, my mixed client base is moving to 8 whether I like it or not. I need to be prepared for the questions and troubleshooting that ensues, which means I need to be their resident Windows 8 expert.
Eighth in a series. It feels weird admitting this. Akin to declaring a fondness for Piers Morgan, or dancing in public to One Direction, almost. But I like Windows 8.1. A lot.
I was never a fan of Windows 8. In fact I'd go so far as to say I detested the Modern UI which on my uber-fast desktop system simply got in the way when I was trying to work and slowed me down or tripped me up. Every time I wanted to do something simple like launch a program it insisted on throwing me out of the desktop and into a weird tiled nightmare I couldn't wait to wake up from.
Microsoft might want you to wait until October 18 before upgrading to Windows 8.1, but the ever-impatient Internet has other ideas. The RTM versions of the OS refresh are now available to download and install if you know where to look (i.e. the usual torrent sites).
The leaks began on Tuesday with a Chinese version, and then there was a WIMs (Windows Imaging Format) release in English that had less technically minded would-be installers scratching their heads and begging for help.
Microsoft needs better Windows 8 apps, and in greater numbers, but, at times, it seems at a loss on how to get them. The company has introduced various initiatives, but then for reasons that are hard to fathom, does its best to hamper developers.
In a blog post yesterday, following the announcement of Windows 8.1 hitting the RTM milestone, the Windows Apps Team put out a call to developers to get their apps ready for the Windows 8.1 launch. It went down like a lead balloon with app makers asking exactly how they're supposed to do this without early access to Windows 8.1 RTM.
Ten months after Microsoft launched the polarizing Windows 8, comes the news that the software giant has now reached RTM on Windows 8.1, and started to roll out the OS refresh to its hardware partners.
I’m using Windows 8.1 as my primary operating system, and frankly can’t wait to install the finished OS, but will have to wait a while yet -- that’s not set to be made available to consumers until October 18. I was never a fan of Windows 8, but 8.1 is a huge improvement.
A couple of days ago my colleague Wayne Williams looked at the new features in the latest leaked build of Windows 8.1 and now, hot on the heels of that, comes the announcement of the official release date for the OS refresh.
Set your alarm for 4am Pacific Time October 17 as this is when the much-anticipated update to Windows 8 will be unleashed on an eager public.
Windows 8.1 will likely hit the RTM milestone in the next couple of weeks but a new version of the forthcoming operating system -- build 9471 -- has leaked onto the internet, revealing a few interesting changes and additions to the official Windows 8.1 Preview released two months ago.
Don’t expect a genuine Start button, or a raft of exciting new apps -- Microsoft isn’t about to reinvent the wheel this close to RTM. However, the software giant has introduced one big new addition which might appeal to anyone thinking of migrating to the tiled OS, as well as a selection of smaller changes.