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Microsoft details upcoming changes in Windows 8.1

The Windows update will offer more customization options and a new spin on a start menu

Windows 8 launched about 7 months ago. The new OS has been widely criticized for being too different from previous Windows platforms and has even been blamed for contributing to slumping worldwide PC sales. The Windows 8.1 update, often referred to as Windows Blue, is trying to change people's minds about the struggling OS.

Common sources of complaints are the lack of a start menu, being forced to go through the touch centric start screen, and a sometimes awkward touch experience. The initial problem of a lack of apps in the Windows Store has been overtaken by the simple fact that the store lacks any kind of search function.

Windows Blue is making drastic changes to Windows 8, and Microsoft seems to have listened to some if not all of the complaints. First and foremost, users will be given the choice to boot straight to desktop if they wish, and a slightly altered start menu (called the 'Start tip') will return to its accustomed place.

Changes have also been made to the touch interface, and more familiar ways of manipulating icons such as holding to drag icons are being introduced along with the ability to change the size and color of the icons (or tiles as Microsoft calls them).

Search functions are coming back in a big way as well, with Bing powered integrated searches that span a computer's HD, linked Cloud Drive, and the internet. A new search function is also being added to a newly reorganized Windows Store.

Other changes include improved multitasking for Windows Store apps, IE 11 (a more touch optimized IE), and unspecified 'improved mouse and keyboard options', among others.

A preview of Windows 8.1 will be available June 26th timed to coincide with Microsoft's developer's conference.


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Craig Munro, 2013-05-30 (Update: 2013-05-31)