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It's a free download if you already have Windows 8

Microsoft unleashed its new Windows 8.1 operating system today, which promises deeper customization, updated apps and more. 

Microsoft has made Windows 8.1 available for download starting at 7 a.m. EST today, and it will roll out around the globe over the next 24 hours. The boxed version will be available in retail stores starting tomorrow, as well as brand-new devices that already have the OS pre-installed. 

Those with Windows 8 will see various changes in the move to 8.1, such as greater customization. Windows 8.1 brings new background color options as well as different sizing of live tiles. 

If you've been missing the familiar and ever-beloved Start button in the lower lefthand corner of your taskbar, fear not: Windows 8.1 brought it back. But it doesn't function in the traditional sense -- it just sends you back to the tile-based Windows 8 Start environment. But if you want to avoid the live tiles altogether, Windows 8.1 will let you boot up in Desktop mode instead. 

Microsoft said multitasking is also easier in Windows 8.1, as users can now have up to four apps side by side and adjust the window size of each one to their specifications. 

Other changes include a better-integrated Sky Drive, where smart files can can be created, edited, saved and shared at anytime; the updated Bing Smart Search, which has two new apps called "Food & Drink" and "Health & Fitness"; built-in support for 3D printing; updates to built-in apps like Mail, News, Weather, Finance, Sports and Travel, and a Windows Store redesign (it now has a "New & Rising" section). 

Microsoft is celebrating its new OS with a Twitter contest, if any DT readers would care to join. Simply take a screenshot of your new Start screen in Windows 8.1 after updating, and tweet it with the hashtag "MyStart." Microsoft will choose 810 winners per day for the next eight days, and each winner will receive a $10 promotional Windows Store gift card.

Many say Windows 8.1 is a must if you've already bought Windows 8, as it offers improvements over the original. But if you're still running Windows 7 and previous, and still aren't comfortable with the new UI in the Windows 8 ecosystem, it's still a pretty big shift from the traditional UI. 

The Windows 8.1 download is free if you already have a licensed copy of Windows 8 installed. Otherwise, it'll cost you $120 for the standard version and $200 for Windows 8.1 Pro. You can grab the free download here on your Windows 8 device. 

Source: Windows Blog

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Windows 8 = a slap in the face
By YearOfTheDingo on 10/17/2013 12:15:35 PM , Rating: 4
The Start button in Windows 8.1 is really an insult. Apparently, people at Microsoft think the problem with Win 8 is the existence of morons who can't find their way to the start screen.

RE: Windows 8 = a slap in the face
By ClownPuncher on 10/17/2013 12:38:04 PM , Rating: 5
Is it not? :P

RE: Windows 8 = a slap in the face
By Jeffk464 on 10/17/2013 6:12:42 PM , Rating: 3
Pretty sure people that can't customize the start screen are going to hate it.

RE: Windows 8 = a slap in the face
By Camikazi on 10/17/13, Rating: 0
By Reclaimer77 on 10/17/2013 5:24:24 PM , Rating: 3
I would rather have massive improvements over changes.

Windows 8 degrades my desktop experience compared to Windows 7. And it's not like I'm the only person who feels the same way.

The OS has flopped. Stop blaming the users for that, and just accept the reasons the OS has failed, and Microsofts mistakes.

RE: Windows 8 = a slap in the face
By 91TTZ on 10/17/2013 11:03:30 PM , Rating: 3
I love change. I just don't like changes for the worse. If I paint your car purple with a spray can that's a change. But is it really a change for the better?

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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