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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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By Doh! on 10/17/2013 9:13:53 PM , Rating: 2
Why the hassle? Just click "cancel" and it will prompt you to create a local account. No need to go through all that phony account creation.

By Doh! on 10/17/2013 9:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
Correction: Not "cancel" button but the "next" button.

By augiem on 10/18/2013 3:13:17 AM , Rating: 2
Does not work. I got stuck here too. (Later found out you can supposedly put a fake email address in that doesn't make sense or cut off internet access to force it to let you, but its definitely trying to prevent you from making a local account in 8.1 unlike in 8.) I didn't have my password the first time I did it so I reset (no cancel option) and it immediately uninstalled 8.1 upgrade and reverted to 8. UGH! After waiting forever for it to install AGAIN, I entered the PW... I didn't realize it was going to change my local account into a MS account, I figured since I had set it to a local account when I installed 8 that it would stay local and it just needed the login for the store and such. Nope, it converted my local acct to an MS account. IRREVERSIBLE. After that, the only recourse was to delete the entire user and create a new one. It's really getting out of hand how they're desperately trying to force you into a box. MS, I'm losing hope in you more every year.

So otherwise, Win 8.1 seems like a minor deal to require a whole new install. And I didn't think it was possible, but they managed to make the Windows Store EVEN WORSE than before! That's some serious dedication! Categories? Who needs em.

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