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Thread: Windows Blue (8.1): screenshots, features, expected release date

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    Administrator Jennifer's Avatar
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    Cool Windows Blue (8.1): screenshots, features, expected release date

    Windows Blue is the next version of Microsoft's OS, changing the way the software giant releases updates - here we reveal what's known about the next version of Windows and what it means for users.

    Microsoft has officially confirmed Blue, which is an extensive update to Windows 8 that brings more improvements than a basic Service Pack, without being a full new version of the OS.

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    Windows Blue will mark a shift to annual updates, similar to how Apple releases OS X versions. It's expected to be a cheap upgrade, if not free, for Windows 8 users.

    Blue looks set to arrive this summer, with Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice-president of communications, saying the company planned to reveal more about it at its Build conference at the end of June.
    Shaw said the "continuous development cycle" introduced by Blue was "the new normal across Microsoft", confirming the update model will apply to products beyond Windows 8.
    He added: "we’ll tune everyday experiences as well as introduce bold, connected and exciting new scenarios. Our product groups are also taking a unified planning approach so people get what they want – all of their devices, apps and services working together wherever they are and for whatever they are doing."

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    Start button returns

    Reports have suggested the Start button could be making a return to Windows - but won't offer the full menu as in Windows 7.

    The disappearance of the Start menu was one of the most lamented changes in the Windows 8 desktop - with some manufacturers installing software to bring it back - but The Verge reports it could return. Sources told the tech site that the button won't include a full menu, but simply give access to the main Start screen.

    Microsoft has previously said the Start menu's removal was down to analysing user data and seeing it wasn't widely used, but The Verge said its sources suggested the return of the button was also down to customer feedback.
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    Direct to desktop

    Windows 8 could feature an option to switch off the much-maligned tile-based Start Screen when the Blue update is released as Windows 8.1.
    The Modern UI has proven controversial, with many uses bemoaning the loss of the keyboard and mouse-centric desktop UI familiar to generations of Windows users.
    According to leaked files spotted by Microsoft Portal and translated by WinBeta, Microsoft could be about to change tack and offer a way to permanently bypass the Start screen.
    Although there are third-party tools for forcing a desktop UI as default, Microsoft has previously declined to offer such an option, leaving users with an interface designed with touch screens as a priority.
    According to files spotted in the Dynamic Link Library of a leaked version of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has now included code for permanently bypassing the Start Screen, but has yet to comment publicly on the option.

    Windows 8.1
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    Shaw stressed Blue was merely a codename, saying in a blog post that the "chances of products being named thusly are slim to none".

    Instead, the first Windows Blue update will almost certainly be labelled as Windows 8.1. Screenshots have appeared of builds sporting the Windows 8.1 moniker and ZDNet's Microsoft-watcher, Mary Jo Foley claims her sources have confirmed the new version will be called Windows 8.1. Similarly, the ARM-based version of Windows will tick over to Windows RT 8.1.


    A leaked version - build 9364 - revealed some of the possible changes to be included in the update.
    The first is support for more tile sizes. Windows 8 supports two - "smaller" and "larger" - but Blue throws another two sizes into the mix. App tiles can now be reduced down to thumbnail size, occupying only a quarter of the space an existing "smaller" tile occupies.
    There’s also a new super-sized tile, the size of two of Windows 8’s "larger" tiles, although this can currently only be applied to the Desktop tile - possibly a way to make it easier for desktop users to get out of Metro as quickly as possible.

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    The Settings charm also includes a new Personalize option that provides more granular control over the appearance of the Start menu backgrounds and colours, including the accent colour of the Start charm itself.

    Windows 8 allowed you to put two "Metro" apps on the same screen, but only with one at almost full-size and the other running down a thin strip. Blue now allows you to give both apps equal billing, in an echo of the familiar snap-to-edges style of the Windows desktop.

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    The Windows Blue build features the first sighting of Internet Explorer 11, in both Metro and desktop modes. The appearance of the browser remains largely identical in both versions, but there are a couple of intriguing new features.
    The Settings menu in the Metro version of IE11 now includes a "Show synced tabs" option. This suggests Microsoft will allow users to synchronise tabs across devices, and possibly even from Windows Phone 8 devices, although the feature wasn’t functional in our leaked build.

    SkyDrive looks set to become much more tightly integrated into Windows Blue, with its own entry in the main Settings menu, allowing you to view the amount of free space you have in your account.
    There are also new options to automatically upload photos and videos to your SkyDrive at either "good" or "best" quality. SkyDrive can also be set as the default save location for a variety of different app files. Perhaps the most intriguing option is to use SkyDrive for online backups of the device.
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    Advanced settings have been added to the main Settings menu, allowing you to adjust Screen and Network controls, managing HomeGroups, VPNs and more without heading to the old-school desktop.

    Blue also looks set to bring new apps. The most interesting is Movie Moments, which appears to be the Metro-equivalent of Windows Movie Maker, but our build also had a built-in Sound Recorder, Calculator app and Alarms app.
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    There are also new settings for apps, allowing you to set quiet hours, so notifications don’t chime and wake you at 2am. There are options to allow incoming calls during the quiet hours, and let calls switch on the homescreen, suggesting Microsoft is looking to beef up the telephone features of Windows, possibly in conjunction with its Skype subsidiary.
    There’s a new App Sizes listing, making it easier to work out which Windows Store apps are stealing your disk space, and a new option to set app defaults for web browsing, email, music, video and photos, which indicates Microsoft is wary of another EU fine for app bundling.

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    Administrator M.A.A's Avatar
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    Microsoft Confirms Windows Blue Update Coming

    Microsoft Confirms Windows Blue Update Coming; Says Windows 8 Passes 100 Million Licenses Sold

    After months of rumors, Microsoft on Monday confirmed it is readying an update to Windows 8 for later this year.
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    Codenamed Windows Blue, the update will enable Windows to run on a wider range of devices (read: smaller-screen tablets). In a blog post, Microsoft says the update will also respond to some criticisms of Windows 8 and Windows RT, but the company didn't go into specifics.

    Windows Blue is a codename for an update that will be available later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PC's, Microsoft's Tami Reller said in a blog post.It will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem.
    In the blog post, Microsoft also said that it has now sold more than 100 million licenses for Windows 8. And, despite the criticism, Reller said Microsoft remains pleased with the operating system.
    Windows 8 is a big, ambitious change, Reller said. While we realize that change takes time, we feel good about the progress since launch, including what we've been able to accomplish with the ecosystem and customer reaction to the new PCs and tablets that are available now or will soon come to market.

    Microsoft billed Windows 8 as a no compromise operating system that would pave the way for devices that could offer all the benefits of both a PC and a mobile device. Hybrid designs allow for devices that act as both tablet and laptop, either through a flip of a swivel, a twist of the screen or the addition of a keyboard.
    However, critics have said that the reality of Windows 8 has fallen short of its goal amid a lack of top-tier apps and devices that often force a choice of either limited battery life or limited compatibility with older Windows software.
    PC sales have also not seen a hoped-for bump from Windows 8 as electronics buyers continue to spend money in other categories.
    For her part, Reller noted that the number of apps in the Windows 8 storefront is now six times what it was at launch and rejects the idea that the PC is past its prime.
    The PC is very much alive and increasingly mobile, Reller said. The PC is also part of a much broader device market of tablets and PCs. Windows 8 was built to fully participate in this broader and increasingly mobile device market.

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