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Friday, 18 October 2013

Windows 8.1 update brings back the Start button

The update includes a range of refinements and functional improvements, according to Microsoft, including a more customizable Start screen, enhanced Bing search, and a range of new apps and services.
Perhaps the most notable change, however, is the return of the Start button as a familiar point of navigation. Microsoft came under heavy criticism for removing the iconic Start button with the launch of Windows 8 in October 2012, and its return will be welcomed by many PC users.
Microsoft said that an updated apps view lets users see all their apps at once for easy access and new clicks and cues, and a Help + Tips app helps them get up to speed quickly.
The company has also but a strong emphasis on personalization with its Windows 8.1 update. The Start screen offers variable tile sizes, more background designs and colors so each Windows device looks unique and personal to the individual. Customers can also choose whether to start Windows at the Start screen or directly in the Windows desktop.
Meanwhile, the new Bing Smart Search allows the user to swipe or type from directly the Start screen to find document on a PC, a photo album on SkyDrive, a favorite app, a song from Xbox Music or a website.
A range of apps and services are also accessible from the Start screen, including Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 11, which brings enhanced touch performance, speed boosts, and synchronized browsing history, favorites and settings across all Windows 8.1 devices. Windows 8.1 also provides native support for 3D printing.
Multi-tasking has also been improved with Windows 8.1, allowing users to 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," said Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc in a blog post.
Windows 8.1 is tightly integrated with Microsoft's cloud storage service SkyDrive, which allows you to access files from any computer or device. Microsoft has also redesigned its Windows Store to make it easier for customers to get the apps they want.
Consumers with a Windows 8 device can download the free update via the online Windows Store. Windows 8.1 will also be available on new devices and as boxed software from 18 October at retail locations around the world.

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