Windows 8.1 Release Date: Free Windows 8 Update Preview Now Available For Download


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showcased Windows 8.1 at the 2013 Build Conference on June 26. This new system is a modified version of Windows 8 and offers more capabilities for consumers. "Windows 8.1 Preview and Windows RT 8.1 Preview are prerelease versions of Windows 8.1," said the Download website. "They build on Windows 8 and bring you more ways to stay productive, have fun, and do all the things you need and want to do on your PC."  Microsoft originally named the new system Windows Blue, but changed it to Windows 8.1. Microsoft CFO and CMO Tami Reller revealed this name change at the JPMorgan Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, affirming the preview's availability as a free download.

Windows 8.1 incorporates old and new features for two reasons: refining the previous system and satisfying the demands of Microsoft users.  The Start menu is the main feature that Microsoft users are clamoring for. Although it is not entirely like the Start menu in previous versions, users can still access the Control Panel and Task Manager and restart or shut down the device, as reported in the Christian Science Monitor. "The new start button will bring back all the functionality of the Start button from Windows 7, but with the look and feel of the more modern Windows 8.1," stated CNN Money. The change in the "snap view" feature is, so far, considered the largest. The "snap view" feature in Windows 8.1 allows multiple apps to appear on the screen simultaneously. "Windows 8.1 will let you run up to eight apps side by side — up from just two in Windows 8," stated CNN Money. In addition, Windows 8.1 can boot to the desktop with greater ease, which allows Microsoft users to bypass Modern UI tiles and improves interfacing capabilities. 

The Xbox Music App also receives an upgrade as users can manage music more easily. "A left navigation pane lets you start a radio station, explore artists, play songs from your collection, or create and manage playlists," said CNET. "On the right side of the screen you can view artists, explore content, watch videos, and more."  Therefore, Windows 8.1 awards Microsoft users a version of the Pandora radio station. Along with music, the search engine is upgraded in which results come from apps, files, SkyDrive and the Web.  Another unique feature is the Hero Screen, which displays information on renowned celebrities such as images, movies, songs, and videos.

Regarding displays, Microsoft will enhance the personalization features which allow users to select unique styles for their devices. "There are more colors to choose from for backgrounds, and you can display a slideshow on your lock screen with photos currently on your hard drive or from those stored on SkyDrive," according to CNET.  Furthermore, the camera app gains a full array of editing tools for pictures such as color enhancement, brightness & color adjustment, red-eye application, and the use of six filters. Lastly, Windows 8.1 gives the Windows Store a cleaner, more sophisticated layout for Microsoft users. CNET says that "Microsoft also made it so your current apps are now auto-updated, ensuring that you'll always have the latest versions."

Microsoft initiated the development of Windows 8.1 because of the complaints about glitches and confusing UI design in Windows 8. With these enhancements, Microsoft guarantees consumers that Windows 8.1 will be a success. The preview at the 2013 Build Conference is a mere taste of what is to come later this year. Thus, the creation of Windows 8.1 was inevitable as Microsoft users seek something new, but prefer a sense of familiarity.