Microsoft previews Windows 8.1 in short video

Jensen Harris, of the Windows Team, has published a short video on the Windows YouTube channel that highlights a few of the new features that can be found in Windows 8.1. He shows off the new Start screen and its customization options, improvements to the lock screen, the hugely improved Search feature, multi-sized app snapping, SkyDrive integration and more.

While improvements to the desktop interface were not shown, including the return of the Start button, you'll be able to check it out for yourself when the Preview version of Windows 8.1 launches on June 26th. In the meantime, check out some of the features in action thanks to the video above.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Skype on iOS gets updated, fixes chat bugs

Next Story

Software update will improve Microsoft Surface Touch and Type covers

60 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I'm happy as long as the Desktop app is still there.
Don't own any Windows touch device so most of these don't excite me.

Is it just me, or do others also see all these flashy gimmicks as likely to prove really annoying,
when used in real life rather than in a carefully chosen demo?

Yay!!! Great video demonstrating a solid OS update... I can't wait! And what's even more awesome is this is just a teaser... there's TONS more features and updates as they outlined on their blog that are not shown in this video. I'm really excited

Seeing the startmenu with the desktop background in action does change it for me.

IMO its not the perfect solution (the modern UI and modern apps stil are unintuitive on non-touch) but its a huge improvement. Non-touch users can do away with modern apps and create a small startscreen with just their favorite apps. Combined with the improved search it seems like a very good alternative to the startmenu.

I wasn't really too interested in Windows 8.1 until I watched the video. The additions aren't ground-breaking, but they are some really nice features. This will make Windows 8 even more pleasant.

Windows 8 is maturing nicely. All these changes are in the right direction. Yet, there is so much Microsoft hate out there that in other sites, this same video is criticized by obvious droid fans and isheep, insisting that Windows 8 is ugly, non innovative, unintuitive, 'a joke' and even slow.

I review extensively every technology available and have not seen any Android device, in person or reviewed in a video by others, that comes close to the modern, beautifully functional approach of Windows 8.

Android fans, please, show me a home screen more beautiful and informative than Windows 8, which doesn't need a myriad widgets each taking cpu individually to achieve what Live Tiles do in a single process.
Show me how to multitask and have two apps in an Android tablet. Show me a search that will not simply pull a web page (which I can do the same with the Google App in Windows 8).
Show me something that looks remotely modern and not a tired grid of icons and tacky 3d animations.
Is like Microsoft has made a huge damage to humankind or something, that people have completely lost their objectivity and are unwilling to accept they are doing great things and going in the right direction.

I like the subtle animation of the fish blowing bubbles :-)

I can see Android users, and I use a Nexus 10, saying that Windows 8 is copying Android's live wallpaper. Yeah, Vista had that!

This looks like a solid and much needed update, really looking forward to it. I don't have Windows 8 yet, but plan on getting it with 8.1.

Maybe its just me, but looking at the start screen and looking at how they were showing the ability to add 2 or the apps side by side seems like exactly what the old desktop could do. Most people before the super bar had all their apps on shortcuts on the desktop, launched them into full screen. With that you could also add two or 3 side by side. The difference now is that the apps on the start screen are live and more touch centric

I started this video expecting to see the new features (which I eventually did), and when I saw Jensen Harris I immediately wanted to kick someone in the face. I don't know what it is but this guy ticks me off just by speaking lol.

i would be more convinced if he could repeat the same demo with a mouse and keyboard so that i see how fluid the UI experience is

Now that we can select the desktop background for the start screen as well how does it handle users who have multiple wallpapers set to cycle daily? I've been doing that since Windows 7 and have some 140 different wallpapers set to change each day, I hope the start screen can keep up with these changes as well.

just one word.... AWESOME!!!
Wish they would fix search much more as you can not find system restore from anywhere unless you know the command for it.. SUCKS!!!

wasd- said,
IMO this should have come with W8, this look like Vista, an UNFINISHED OS
When software is finished, It's bad software.

Windows 8, Windows 8.1 .. 8.2 is just like any other Tablet software starting out, when Android OS shipped was it Finished? No it was just getting started, How about when iOS originally shipped? It barely had anything users wanted.. I remember users constantly begging apple include this in an update or that in an update.

Now with 8.1 we're starting to see more Features, and as time goes on even more features.

I don't know why I'm replying to your comment as you're obviously not interested in hearing why Windows 8 shipped the way it did

artfuldodga said,
Windows 8, Windows 8.1 .. 8.2 is just like any other Tablet software starting out, when Android OS shipped was it Finished? No it was just getting started, How about when iOS originally shipped? It barely had anything users wanted.. I remember users constantly begging apple include this in an update or that in an update.

Now with 8.1 we're starting to see more Features, and as time goes on even more features.

I don't know why I'm replying to your comment as you're obviously not interested in hearing why Windows 8 shipped the way it did

Obviously im not interested in a Table software on a PC

And i think that a lot of people thinks like me, you only need to see the share of Windows 8 in the world haha

Ha well great news for you then. Windows 8.1 serves both Desktop and Tablet Users. Sick of the Start screen? a.) Boot to Desktop. Hate Modern apps? b.) Set All your Default apps to Traditional Desktop apps. And.. Thanks to 8.1 Update, when Searching/Launching apps FROM the Desktop you'll no longer be tossed into the Start screen Unnecessarily(Search&Launch Straight from your Desktop Just like Windows 7's Unified Search... Only It'll be a Flyout on the Right of your screen with better features(Bing fully integrated being one, Searching SkyDrive Files being another)

Oh, and Pin your most used Desktop Apps to your Taskbar(Save yourself a few seconds on Searches)

And there you have it, Never use the Start Screen again(If you so choose)

Anything else you want to BS about? Oh and you're right, there are A LOT of misinformed users out there. Hopefully I just educated you some

Edited by dingl_, Jun 5 2013, 4:52pm :

This might be the sleep talking... But did anyone else see the fish's bubbles move on the start screen around the 46 second mark?

... Ok nevermind I watched the rest of it, apparently that's supposed to happen.

Wow, sharp eye! But, why do you say "it's supposed to happen"? The screen wasn't being swiped at that moment, so, it did look like an animated start screen background that can show animated sequences without user interaction. Thoughts?

It feels like a lot of these things are things that should have been part of Windows 8 from the beginning. The completion of PC Settings for example and the addition of a full range of options to the Start screen - those feel like completion of what 8 needed to be to begin with.

It seems that Microsoft released Windows 8 because they needed to release it to a schedule and only now is it really maturing. Hopefully early negative experiences of Windows 8.x can still be overcome by the improvements.

Everything that comes after 8.0 will feel like it should've been in 8.0 "in the beginning", hell, you could argue a lot of what came in Windows 7 should've been in Windows XP. The point is, they have to stop developing new features and finish a build off at some point. It's better to have most of something out there (Especially when it's a platform release, which Windows 8 is) and make it better later, than release nothing until all the fit and finish bits are in, then release your platform update, and put up with the other whinging that goes with it, like no apps in the app store for example.

Windows Vista->7 is no different. Windows Vista introduced a lot of driver changes that hurt its reputation, but by the time fit and finish Windows 7 came around, which used the same driver model as Windows Vista, the drivers had been sufficiently tested and fixed up, so Windows 7 looks and works significantly better than Windows Vista, and has very few driver issues. What most fail to understand is, without Windows Vista, the issues Windows Vista had, Windows 7 then would've. In addition, the time between Windows releases would've blown out to a ridiculously large period.

PC Settings can be accessed through the Apps page, so that means that you can pin the PC Settings tile on the Start Screen and the tile itself changes colors to match the Start Screen?! cool!!!

...and all the old farts will sorely be disappointed when they find out the start menu is still gone...FOREVER!

cetla said,
...and all the old farts will sorely be disappointed when they find out the start menu is still gone...FOREVER!

tell me about it. Folks who can't adapt will never adapt.

Actually, us old farts are pretty excited that they added a more usable Start Menu 'in' 8.1 (aka All Apps, Unified Search)

Its you idiots that seem to be still conflating it with the Taskbar Screen.

cetla said,
...and all the old farts will sorely be disappointed when they find out the start menu is still gone...FOREVER!

Surprisingly, many of them aren't old- they're just farts.

Looking good, though it still surprises me that Windows 8 even launched without features like sorting the All Apps view and picking custom colours for the Start Screen.

yes. they must have had an extremely tight schedule. always sad to see that pressure makes companies release software that isnt polished yet.

typu said,
yes. they must have had an extremely tight schedule. always sad to see that pressure makes companies release software that isnt polished yet.

Right, but on the flip side now they're moving to a yearly Windows cycle and 8.1 is going to be a free upgrade to 8.0 users. I don't know what the next one after this will be though.

GP007 said,

Right, but on the flip side now they're moving to a yearly Windows cycle and 8.1 is going to be a free upgrade to 8.0 users. I don't know what the next one after this will be though.


If they will move to a yearly release cycle future releases will cost money, and IMO rightly so, the trick will be the price: something around $50/70 could be reasonable. Of course the other part of the equation will be what kind of improvements each release will bring.

seriously, you can hate ms or windows 8 as much as you want, but these changes are a very strong addition and make a lot of things right.

like that a lot

you?

I'm linking for what I saw... just ashame that in the tablets field I love Android more than W8.x ... but on the PC field... W8 looking pretty good