Microsoft unveil Windows 8.1

Microsoft have officially unveiled Windows 8.1.

The company introduced the system update at the Build 2013 event, announcing that a preview is available now, and a full public release will come later in the year.

The update includes some tweaks to the interface, as well as some improvements in improve usability. It will also feature the return of the Start button, something many users have demanded since Windows 8 was originally launched. The button’s return will not include a pop-up menu, however, instead taking users directly to the Start menu. A simple right-click from here provides access to the control panel, task manager and the search features. The search function has also been given an overhaul, now allowing the searches to look deeper into the hard drive and SkyDrive, and also searching online through Bing.

Another feature introduced is boot-to-desktop, allowing users to start immediately on the desktop, giving them the chance to avoid the tiled UI interface.

There have also been improvements to some pre-installed applications, with the Xbox Music service getting a redesign to focus on the user’s music. The app also now allows users to create playlists based on specific songs or artists.

The Windows Store has also been upgraded, now featuring a new design that will focus on new and recommended applications, with less emphasis placed on categories. Updates can be set to automatically download when available, though users can disable that particular function if they choose.

There is also more integration with SkyDrive, with that now the default location for saving files.

For those of you that wish to download the preview, you can do so at this link, though Microsoft do state that only experienced PC users should do so.

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