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Print 114 comment(s) - last by lexluthermiest.. on Oct 23 at 1:20 AM

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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RE: Some nice new features
By Chaser on 10/17/2013 12:39:24 PM , Rating: 5
A couple nice touches for gamers or techies, but nothing compelling for the average person buying a new PC (which they'll probably get anyway) or to court corporations towards an enterprise license purchase.

When a new version of Windows is released -which everyone must buy in one form or another- it must present appealing features/reasons that the average consumer can appreciate. Appreciation fosters acclimation or a willingness to invest the extra time towards becoming comfortable with the changes.

Windows 8 on the other hand was mostly Microsoft's "take it or leave it" vision thinking they know best for everyone else. I recently received an email from Dell offering Windows 7 options on new builds.

8.1? Lipstick on a pig.



RE: Some nice new features
By chµck on 10/17/2013 12:55:14 PM , Rating: 1
I'm sure everyone appreciates better power management/battery life


RE: Some nice new features
By Chaser on 10/17/2013 1:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not "everyone" uses batteries. And if we're counting thats one improvement. Its not a feature and even if it was it doesn't justify a new license.


RE: Some nice new features
By inighthawki on 10/17/2013 1:09:56 PM , Rating: 3
This makes no sense. You cannot just discount a feature/improvement (whatever you want to call it) because it doesn't apply directly to you. Not everyone has a DX11.2 compatible video card, so should that not count in the list of new features? Not everyone has a miracast compatible display, should that not be counted in the list of features? Not everyone has an SSD or high speed hard drive to add to the storage spaces pool for tiering, should that not count in the list of features?

You're never going to find a new OS where every feature or improvement applies to every user. That's why there is investment in different areas of the OS. Some benefit more than others. Either way, regardless of whether or not YOU use a battery, improved battery life is a major selling point for the average user.


RE: Some nice new features
By Mitch101 on 10/17/2013 1:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
Your not exactly paying for it either.

Windows 8.1 will be officially released in a month on October 18, 2013 (that's actually 12:00am on October 18th in New Zealand, so 4:00 a.m. PT 7:00 a.m. ET on October 17). Those who are already running Windows 8 will receive the upgrade to 8.1 for free , but those will on Windows 7 and below will need to pay for the pleasure to use the new Start Screen.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/18/2013 10:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but those still on Windows 7 and below will need to pay for the unpleasantness of using the new Start Screen.


There you go, fixed that for ya.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/18/2013 11:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You cannot just discount a feature/improvement (whatever you want to call it) because it doesn't apply directly to you.


Well it DOES apply to me. And I'm not going to sacrifice the niceties of Windows 7 and deal with the crap UI of 8 so I can get an improvement of 4% battery life on my laptop...

quote:
Either way, regardless of whether or not YOU use a battery, improved battery life is a major selling point for the average user.


Major selling point? Really? 4% is a major selling point? I think not...


RE: Some nice new features
By inighthawki on 10/19/2013 5:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well it DOES apply to me. And I'm not going to sacrifice the niceties of Windows 7 and deal with the crap UI of 8 so I can get an improvement of 4% battery life on my laptop...

We're not talking about Windows 7, we're talking about the features and improvements that are provided compared to Windows 8.

quote:
Major selling point? Really? 4% is a major selling point? I think not...

First, please provide a reference to where you got 4%.
Secondly yes, any improvement in battery life is always a major selling point of an OS. 4% or 40%, it's an improvements, and that is a selling point.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/20/2013 2:55:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We're not talking about Windows 7, we're talking about the features and improvements that are provided compared to Windows 8.


The original post we have been replying to directly implied the difference of battery life between Windows 7 and 8/8.1. So my response to YOU about battery life is valid. Learn how to read...

quote:
First, please provide a reference to where you got 4%.


Easy enough, I ran battery life tests on my personal laptop, using Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 RTM and most recently 8.1 preview. The largest difference was 4%[8.1 was 4% better than 7]. 8 RTM was 3%.

quote:
Secondly yes, any improvement in battery life is always a major selling point of an OS. 4% or 40%, it's an improvements, and that is a selling point.


Again, you need to learn proper contextual comprehension. The statement I made was that the trade-off of 4% better battery life is NOT worth giving up the well loved attributes of 7 that one looses when moving from 7 to 8/8.1. So no, a 4% improvement in battery life is not a selling point in THIS situation. Do you understand, or do I need to use more basic and simplified vocabulary?


RE: Some nice new features
By inighthawki on 10/20/2013 7:35:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The original post we have been replying to directly implied the difference of battery life between Windows 7 and 8/8.1.

Actually no, it wasn't, because it was MY post.

quote:
Again, you need to learn proper contextual comprehension. The statement I made was that the trade-off of 4% better battery life is NOT worth giving up the well loved attributes of 7 that one looses when moving from 7 to 8/8.1.

Yes, I saw that, but again this wasn't the point. It is a direct upgrade to Windows 8, which was the original argument. 8->8.1 is better battery life. Non debatable. You need to learn to read cause there is nothing about Windows 7 here.

But if you want to go that route then yes, it IS still a selling point, but it is a tradeoff. Learn to read bro, it'll help you make actual arguments.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/23/2013 12:00:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually no, it wasn't, because it was MY post.


True, but YOUR post was a response to "tayb"'s original post , which included;

quote:
If you weren't happy with Windows 8 you aren't going to be happy with Windows 8.1.


which implied that those who like 7 will not have any reason to switch over, which is what I was alluding to in response to YOU .

quote:
Learn to read bro, it'll help you make actual arguments.


What was that you were saying, BRO? And would you like help extracting that foot from your mouth?


RE: Some nice new features
By retrospooty on 10/17/2013 12:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
" I recently received an email from Dell offering Windows 7 options on new builds."

Yup. All OEMS have that option, at least for the business models. If they didn't, companies simply wouldn't buy it.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/18/2013 11:16:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
at least for the business models. If they didn't, companies simply wouldn't buy it.


Not just companies. They're offering Windows 7 to everyone. Which is good because 8.1 is, as was stated elsewhere in these comments, lipstick on a pig. I would have said something else, but that was less vulgar...


RE: Some nice new features
By inighthawki on 10/17/2013 1:04:21 PM , Rating: 2
Of the features I listed, I would say that most greatly benefit the average customer, even if they are not necessarily front-facing UI changes that they can see.

Official support for hybrid devices (iGPU+dGPU) is HUGE. It greatly increases the performance, improves the battery life a lot, and reduces compatibility issues with drivers during upgrades, something that has often been a source of issues for people who buy them.

Improved battery life is something that everyone can appreciate.

Wireless displays are also gaining a lot of ground recently, and has quite a few uses for the average user, as well as in the business sector (wirelessly connecting to micracast compatible projectors would save a lot of time and hastle).

Even storage tiering could be useful for the average consumer. The whole idea behind storage spaces is to provide software raid in a very user-friendly fashion. You can just plug in external hard drives and merge them together and include things like redundancy. While the concept of tiering may be alien to the average user (i.e. they wouldn't understand what it meant) they can still take advantage of it without anything special.

DX11.2 and independent flip might be too of the more "specialized" features that are tech/gamer friendly, but nonetheless are important.

Outside of that, add in all the UX and usability improvements and it's far from a "lipstick on a pig" upgrade, and features tons of actual improvements to the OS that make it more usable than 8. Is it perfect? No, but it's far more than any service pack or OSX upgrade has ever brought to the table.


RE: Some nice new features
By Etsp on 10/17/2013 1:35:09 PM , Rating: 2
What is this independent flip feature you're referring to? I can't find references to it online. Can you describe that in a bit more detail?


RE: Some nice new features
By inighthawki on 10/17/2013 1:54:37 PM , Rating: 2
It is a successor to DirectFlip in Windows 8.

In windows 8, when the DWM detected that you were running a windowed mode application that was the same size as the display's resolution, it skipped desktop composition and directly flipped to the surface that the app rendered to, to avoid the unnecessary computation. In 8.1, that was expanded to a feature called Independent Flip which gos one step further and eliminates the DWM from the equation, and allows the application to directly submit the screen flip directly to the kernel, bypassing DWM altogether. The performance puts it on par with fullscreen exclusive, but having all of the benefits of windowed mode (alt+tab, charms, etc). It should also have some power savings by not requiring DWM to do any work every frame (Compared to windowed mode before, should be the same as fullscreen exclusive).

Note, however, that in order to take advantage of this in 8/8.1 the app has to allow the device's swapchain to be created using the new flip model, as opposed to blit. (Swapchain must be created using DXGI_SWAP_EFFECT_FLIP_SEQUENTIAL
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/de... ), so unfortunately it is not highly used in most non-metro games today.

I wouldn't be surprised, though, if down the road (windows 9, 8.2, whatever it's called) they eventually do away with blit altogether and force everything internally to the flip model.

It surprises me that Microsoft has done such a poor job advertising these enhancements, as they are pretty nice to have and to build your games on.


RE: Some nice new features
By Etsp on 10/17/2013 2:52:35 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, I see. It sounded like something I would appreciate, and it will be once the games support it. I prefer running games in "fullscreen windowed mode" whenever possible, because I like the fast alt+tab to look something up online.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/20/2013 3:22:14 AM , Rating: 1
You are trying, much like microsoft themselves, to justify a horrid GUI with core functions that MOST users will never need. Hybrid devices are supported by Windows 2000 & up and are nothing new to the windows world. Wireless displays are also supported by XP & above. And as alluded to elsewhere in these posts, battery life is not significantly improved even when compared to XP on identical hardware.

You're right about one thing, The improvements from 8 to 8.1 are not so much like lipstick on a pig. It's more like frosting on a hot steamy cow pat.

I gave 8 a one month go, and the same with 8.1. Both are garbage and NOT worth using. The microsoft coders bringing back the start button that takes a user to the modern UI start screen instead of an actual menu is very much like them say Eff-U to those of us who asked for the start button/menu back. And I say Eff-U to you as well microsoft. I'll stick with Windows 7 until microsoft pulls their head out of the sand/their back-sides. And I'm no fan of Apple, but to imply the improvements made to MacOS over the years are less than significant shows EVERYONE just how foolish and narrow minded you are. And yes, I'm very aware just how ironic that must seem you coming for me. Get over it, get educated and quit blowing sunshine up everyone's bum about Windows 8/8.1. Those of us with a brain are not buying your non-sense or microsoft's....


RE: Some nice new features
By inighthawki on 10/20/2013 6:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are trying, much like microsoft themselves, to justify a horrid GUI with core functions that MOST users will never need.

I didn't say anything about the UI at all. Fail to you

quote:
Hybrid devices are supported by Windows 2000 & up and are nothing new to the windows world.

No, it hasn't. 8.1 is the first OS with hybrid support. Prior to 8.1, it was driver hacks and workarounds which can cause instability and lower performance.

quote:
Wireless displays are also supported by XP & above.

Again, that's just a blatant lie. Miracast support was added in 8.1 Prior to that if it worked, it was third party workarounds

quote:
battery life is not significantly improved even when compared to XP on identical hardware.

Really? Where did you get that statistic? Battery life has been improving gradually over time for a while now. This is just pure trolling.

quote:
get educated and quit blowing sunshine up everyone's bum about Windows 8/8.1.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to upgrade, I'm trying to explain that 8.1 introduces more improvements to 8 than a few UI tweaks. It's more than just a service pack. Leanr to read what the point of my posts are.

It's clear to me you don't know sh*t about the OS, your first few sentences make that immensely clear. Just stop trolling, it makes you look stupid.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/23/2013 1:11:38 AM , Rating: 2
Your moronic response clearly demonstrates your lack of knowledge/experience with the industry in question. There have been plenty of well known, well supported, well loved professional technologies which qualify as hybrid devices which allow on-the-fly hot-switching of hardware since even the Windows NT days. Wireless displays have been around since the days of Windows 98. The first one I saw was an RF model in 1999. Granted it was barely a passable attempt, but did work and didn't crash the system[which for Windows 98 was indeed an accomplishment]. "Miracast" is NOT the only wireless display standard ever created or in use in the wild. And what kind of immature, cowardly little quim are you to call someone a lair like that? Do you have any idea how pathetic you look right now?

quote:
No, it hasn't. 8.1 is the first WINDOWS OS with NATIVE hybrid support. Prior to 8.1, it was driver hacks and workarounds which can cause instability and lower performance.


Fixed that for you. Just because microsoft doesn't natively support something in the os certainly does NOT mean it can't be done and stably so. In reality, MOST innovations spring forth before any OS developer has a chance to integrate such functions into their OS. Seriously, where have you been in the last four decades? Under a rock? FYI, Apple's MacOS and the Linux community have had native hybrid support for some time now. Microsoft is a bit late to the game on this one. But then again, that's nothing new either.

quote:
Really? Where did you get that statistic? Battery life has been improving gradually over time for a while now. This is just pure trolling.


Remember how I mentioned elsewhere in the comments of this article about the battery life tests I performed? I tested XP, Vista[SP2], 7[SP1], 8 and then 8.1 Preview all against each other on the same system. I'm not going to bother testing the 8.1 release as it would likely be just as underwhelming as the preview version...

Those numbers where as follows;

XP; Baseline reference to which all others are compared.
Vista; 8% loss
7; 3% gain
8; 6% gain
8.1; 7% gain

So, let's see here now... Hmmm... Windows Vista sucked the battery dry. 7 lasted a little longer. 8 lasted a little longer still. 8.1 lasted 1% longer than that.

SOOO, if I was still using XP and wanted to "upgrade", the 7% improvement to 8.1 IS, to be fair, a compelling number. But not when having to suffer through the horrid UI. And before you go there, said exercise compares oranges to oranges. If you compare the older laptop used in my test running Vista[which is what it came with] to newer hardware which comes with 8.1, then there is, of course, going to be much better battery life. But if you take that same newer hardware and put 7 on it, then the advantage falls back down to 3 or 4%. And thus loses the bragging point about battery life.


RE: Some nice new features
By lexluthermiester on 10/23/2013 1:20:18 AM , Rating: 2
BTW, what was that about trolling genius?


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