Windows 8.1 released in beta
In typical Microsoft fashion, Windows 8.1 has been pre-released to allow users to beta test and provide feedback. Featuring a long list of improvements, Microsoft is working to provide a more customizable user experience, faster browsing capabilities, and easier search options.
Windows 8.1 seeks to provide easier touch and mobility based interfaces for users on multiple platforms, whether it’s on a PC, a tablet, or a mobile phone. A big change for the update is a heavy focus on apps, including an update to the look of the Windows store. Updated apps include the Mail app, Outlook, Skype, People among many others.
Creating seamless transitions for users
Most notable in this update is the ability to use the power of Bing’s search engine to do more than just search the web. Now, it’s also being utilized to find files whether they’re on a local drive or in a user’s Skydrive account.
This update also features a more robust cloud management tool in Skydrive, making your files available from literally almost anywhere, even providing iOS and Android capabilities. This cloud access allows you to save from one device and complete on another, providing a seamless transition from one platform to another.
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Windows 8.1 updates for businesses
For businesses, Windows 8.1 is focused on providing improved mobility options. Improved connectivity and security as well as VPN options is a cornerstone for this update. Users now have better options and security to turn a device into a Wi-Fi hotspot and allow other devices to connect, for improved mobile collaboration.
For both markets, personalization is a focus. From customizing button sizes, to arranging home screens with your favorite photos, Windows seeks to provide a unique experience for each user that’s seamless regardless of device.
Experienced users can be first to test
With this latest update, Microsoft is intent on bridging the gap between the business world and the personal life for Windows users by providing a seamless integration on multiple devices. Previously, Microsoft largely focused on businesses as its target market but with the competition from Apple in the consumer market (having already developed this kind of integration with its products for consumers), Microsoft is obviously attempting to rally consumers to its products as well.
Because this is a pre-release of software, Microsoft strongly recommends only experienced users download the update and only if comfortable with troubleshooting PC problems yourself as “you might encounter errors you wouldn’t encounter with a release version of Windows” and if the installation fails on your PC, “you may need to contact your PC manufacturer”.