Windows 8.1 features review

Windows 8 was released in October 2012 featuring a touch-friendly interface intended to work smoothly on desktops, tablets and laptops/tablet hybrids. The tablet-friendly operating system was, however, not without its fair share of bugs and issues. The most notable issue was Microsoft’s decision to omit the “Home” button, which ended up alienating many hard-core Windows users.

Come June 2013 and Microsoft unveiled Windows 8.1 (first update for Windows 8) at its Build conference in San Francisco. Windows 8.1 is available as a free download from the Windows Store. We highlight some headline features that come with the update.

Start button

Microsoft has made significant changes to the first incarnation of Windows 8. It appears Windows 8.1 is intended to give an experience much like Windows 7 in desktop mode while still keeping tablet users happy. The “Start” button that was left out in Windows 8 is back. It returns on the bottom left hand corner on desktops. The button, however, acts as a shortcut back to the tiled-interface instead of accessing the launched application like it did in previous versions of Windows OS.

Improved search

Windows Search has been a useful function loved by many PC users. Now you can smile more because Windows 8.1 brings you a more refined and comprehensive search function. A new search function powered by Bing allows for improved searches across the web, cloud storage and hardware. You can search everything from information hidden deep in your Microsoft Word documents to content integrated deep in your SkyDrive account and files stored away somewhere on your mobile device on Windows 8.1.

Native Windows 8.1 apps

Microsoft lags behind competitors like Apple when it comes to making its own apps. However, Microsoft has been busy lately making aps to rival the completion. Windows 8.1 ships with some of Microsoft’s best native apps, including the Health Fitness app that gives insights on nutrition and exercise routines, the Food & Drink app that provides handy culinary tips and the Reading List app that allows you to save articles to read later.

Bottom line

From this review you can tell Windows 8.1 is packed with a host of features, including some that we did not touch on like a built-in photo editing tool, new multitasking windows feature and better mouse and keyboard navigation functions. But, are all these features enough to persuade users to upgrade from Windows 7 or switch from iPad and Android tablets?

Well, we are not so sure Windows 8.1 can convince people to ditch their Android tablets. Some Windows 8.1 features may take a while to get used to and those who liked Windows 8 may be put off by the new interface. That said, Windows 8.1 certainly does improve the overall Windows 8 experience. Performance actually feels a lot faster even when doing simple tasks like zipping up files.

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