In case you didn’t know, Microsoft starts rolling out Windows 8.1 today.
The OS update should start appearing in the Windows Store as a free download for all existing Win 8 users. Those using Windows 7 or previous versions, will have pay the same price Microsoft was already charging for Windows 8: $120 for the standard version, and $200 for Windows 8.1 Pro.
The new features? Here they are:
Start the way you want. The Start screen in Windows 8.1 is more customizable than ever with new tile sizes, new background designs and colors – allowing you to make the Start screen on your device unique and personal to you (you should see some of the color combinations I’ve come up with for my Start screen!). You can also choose how you start your Windows experience – at the Start screen or the desktop. The Start button is back. And there is an improved Apps view that allows you to see all your apps the way you want.
Multi-tasking is even better in Windows 8.1 – you can now have up to four apps side by side with flexible windows sizing for each app on the screen. At a minimum, I usually have 3 apps snapped side by side on my devices doing various things like email, listening to music and browsing the web. We have also improved multi-monitor support in Windows 8.1 allowing users to view their desktop or apps from the Windows Store on any or all their monitors.
Bing Smart Search is the easiest way to find what you are looking for and to get things done. Built for touch, swipe or type from the Start screen and Smart Search will find what you need – whether it’s a document on your PC, a photo album in the cloud, your favorite app, or a website.
Windows 8.1 comes with new and improved Microsoft apps and services– available right out of the box and right from your Start screen. Skype is there for instant messaging and catching up with friends and family. We’ve updated the Mail app (well, more like over-hauled) to make email easier – for both personal and email and work email. Two new Bing apps are introduced in Windows 8.1 called Food & Drink and Health & Fitness along with updates to the News, Weather, Finance, Travel and Sports apps. Xbox Music has received a big update for Windows 8.1, and you can watch TV and movies with Xbox Video. And Windows 8.1 comes with Internet Explorer 11which is optimized for touch and brings speed boosts and synchronized browsing history, favorites, and settings across all of your Windows 8.1 devices.
Speaking of synchronizing – Windows 8.1 also comes with deep and improved cloud integration with SkyDrive. Your files are always accessible across all your devices. With SkyDrive smart files, you can create, edit, save and share files anywhere, anytime and your files are always with you, both on and offline.
And the Windows Store has been redesigned in Windows 8.1. With the “New & Rising” section it is now easier to stay on top of the hottest and newest apps to hit the Windows Store. Plus, the Windows Store has a live tile too! The Windows Store will also now provide you with personalized recommendations – powered by Bing. And apps are now updated from the Windows Store automatically by default so you will always have the best and newest versions of your apps. Look for new and updated apps including Adobe Photoshop Express, Box, Evernote, Facebook, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and NOOK, for Windows 8.1. And more to come!