By Saloni N

Windows 8 completely shocked  Microsoft users when it came because it was a major adjustment, especially with the departure of the beloved Start screen option. But Microsoft has finally come out with the Windows 8.1 update (this week). The Windows 8.1 preview was released a few months back and has already been used and reviewed by many, though it is available to all now. For those people who have pre-installed Windows 8, the new update is available for free download on the store.

The update is more than 3GB in size. Then, comes the setup, where questions about the language of keyboard [English (US) or English (India)] and further details like Microsoft ID, whether you want custom or express settings are asked.  Once that is done, it takes about another 15 minutes to load completely.

When it finally loads one can see a few visible changes almost immediately; like the Start screen option back on the Desktop and the Keyboard language option in the far right next to the date and time.

 Windows 8.1 also occupies less space on your disk. The user interface is definitely improved, with a better Start screen and useful tips provided when you open Apps. Also there is a Help + Tips option that helps people navigate the interface.

Screenshot of the taskbar

A screenshot of the taskbar

New Apps

For people who use Windows every day, going to the Helps + Tips tile on the Start screen is the best way to learn what’s new in Windows 8.1. It points out the new built-in apps like the Calculator, Scan, Reading List, Alarms etc. Also instead of being constantly reminded of pending app updates, they will now be updated automatically.

Search feature

The search feature has also been enhanced with results fro

m your PC and the web (through Bing), though I felt this just made it slower to search for apps. The settings in search can restrict your parameters to: everywhere, files, settings, web images and web videos, which can be helpful.

Screenshot of Windows 8.1

Personalising Windows 8.1

Store

The store has also changed with the tiles bigger and more details about the apps, though the number of applications still remain limited.

Skydrive integration

Windows 8.1 allows the option of saving your files, settings and apps on the PC as well as on Skydrive, if you so choose.

Personalisation

One can also change the background of the start screen, as well as use more colours. You can also schedule the change in the desktop background.

One way to change the start screen background to make it the same as the Desktop background is to go to the Control Panel>Taskbar>Navigation settings, otherwise you can use the Personalize settings.

Skype and taking pictures is now available without unlocking the screen. One can also put a slideshow on the Lock Screen. Another good feature is the ability to multi-task (keep multiple programs and windows open at once) by snapping (i.e. making the size smaller).

There is better organisation of Apps through App View, and one can also access it through the start screen by clicking on the visible arrow symbol.

Another positive change that addresses the complaints with Windows 8 is the settings option which had to be accessed from the Control Panel previously. It can now be accessed from PC settings.

To get more details go here.

Overall verdict, decidedly warm, Windows 8.1 is far better than its previous version.

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