This is what Windows 8.1 looks like (video)

This summer Microsoft will roll out a preview build of Windows 8.1, bringing new features and design tweaks to the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems. The company started showing off some of the new features recently, and now Microsoft has put together a demo video showing what Windows 8.1 looks like.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Lock screen can now show photos slideshows or a series of personal photos.
  • Microsoft has added new tile sizes (very large and very small) to the Start Screen.
  • You can now access the All Apps screen by swiping up from the Start Screen.
  • There’s a new option to rearrange the Start Screen by moving multiple apps at once.
  • You can use your Desktop Wallpaper as the background for the Start Screen.
  • Search now integrates PC and web results all in one place, in an “app-like experience,” offering apps, files, media, and web search results from one view.
  • You can now resize full-screen apps that are running side-by-side, and use up to 4 apps on the screen at once.

It’s interesting to note that all of the major changes Microsoft is focusing on affect the new “Metro” or “Modern” user interface that launched with Windows 8 rather than the traditional desktop view which has been around for decades.

We do know there’ll be a new Start Button in the Windows 8.1 desktop, but it’ll just dump you back to the Start Screen instead of bringing up a classic Start Menu.

Microsoft Windows 8.1

That makes sense, since Modern elements are new, play well with new touchscreen devices, and offer room for improvement. But the vast majority of Windows apps are still designed to run in desktop mode, which means that some Windows users will probably never take advantage of the new features Microsoft is pushing.

That’s kind of a shame — because one of the big stories coming out of Computex this year is the growing number of Windows computers featuring ultra-high-resolution displays. While a notebook with a 13 inch, 3200 x 1800 pixel display might sound like a good idea, most old-school Windows desktop apps aren’t designed to play well with pixel densities that high. Modern apps are.

It’d be nice to see Microsoft bring solutions to the table that will help legacy apps work better on high resolution displays. But for now, I suppose it’s nice to see that the company’s tweaking the UI of its user interface that’s already designed for high resolution screens.

  • Sam Curcio

    I just finished a class in college on Windows 7 configuration. I suppose all of this new Windows 8 stuff can fill up another semester’s worth of work.

  • bravomail

    “I can configure Start Menu the way I want”. No. Not really. I cannot make it back into folder view. Why having a folders in Start Menu such a hard concept for MS to swallow?

    • CyberGusa

      They use groups instead, apparently… You can select Tiles and put them in their own group, and name the group to keep it separate from the others and easier to find.

      Though, you can pin folders to the Start Screen as a alternative… Just like pinning desktop apps…

  • Alan

    I don’t really care about the UI stuff since I’ll just adjust to it like with any OS I use but I want to know more about added functionality.

    -Will connected standby capable devices allow the screen to be turned off without immediately going into connected standby (ie. let desktop apps continue to run until the standby idle timeout occurs)?

    -Will they bring back NFS support for consumer versions of Windows? The betas had it and Windows 7 Ultimate had it which is supposed to be replaced by Windows 8 Pro that doesn’t have it.

    -Will it bring back a GUI interface for managing the existing networks like past connected WiFi access points or network profiles and locations?

    • CyberGusa

      Good questions, guess we’ll have to wait till it’s released or at least see more details from the preview they have planned for June 26 before we find out for sure…

    • Hoodoo

      I was disappointed when they removed NFS support for the retail release of Windows 8. I get much faster speeds on NFS than SMB.

    • Me

      Another issue with Connected Standby is that when moving in and out of WiFi range, Windows doesn’t automatically connect to networks until you go out of Connected Standby.

  • Adrian

    How about XP Mode …

    • CyberGusa

      You mean like what was offered for Windows 7?

      That was actually a VM of XP running on Windows 7… You can set up a VM of pretty much any OS already… options like Hyper-V virtual machine manager just requires Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise…

  • Ruel Smith

    Dear Microsoft:

    Seriously? I’ll pass…

    Sincerely,
    Windows 7 user

  • Jason in SD

    Oooooh, a Dragon!!! That is so much cooler than the 3D Pipes that I used once for about a month in 1996.

  • xp2panist

    When I don’t like something I stay away. These people commenting here got paid.

  • Sir Launcelot

    Looks like NFS isn’t in Windows 8.1 anymore. :(