Microsoft Rolls Out Windows 8.1
October 17, 2013 11:52 AM
comment(s) - last by
It's a free download if you already have Windows 8
unleashed its new Windows 8.1 operating system today, which promises deeper customization, updated apps and more.
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
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
on your Windows 8 device.
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RE: Some nice new features
10/17/2013 1:35:09 PM
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
10/17/2013 1:54:37 PM
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
), 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
10/17/2013 2:52:35 PM
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.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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