Windows 8.1 officially announced now available for download

Microsoft has officially unveiled Windows 8.1 during the build 2013 keynote, which brings several new features and improvements to their Windows 8 desktop platform. The final version of Windows 8.1 will be released later this year as a free update to all Windows 8 users, but is currently available as a preview version for testing and evaluation.

Among the new features, Windows 8.1 brings support for high-res screens and the return of the Start button. You also get a brand new search interface and an improved user interface.

The newly updated Start Screen allows additional sizes to your Live Tiles. You also have animated backgrounds which add life to your Start Screen and the ability to set image galleries from your local collection or SkyDrive on your lockscreen.

The Start Button is back on the taskbar and as expected it simply brings you into the Modern Live Tile Start Screen. However an added functionality to the Start Button allows you to right click on it to logoff or reboot. Those who expected the classic start menu to come back will just have to learn to get used to the Start Screen as it is here to stay.

Now while you are in the modern UI you can change the window size of apps which are snapped next to each other. And you can even snap more than two applications now thanks to the new alignment features in the Windows 8.1 update.

The new Bing Heroes search feature offers impressive graphics with images, bios and media along with the traditional search results.

Microsoft has also chosen to scale Windows up to 200% just like Apple did. This would however require developers to step in and update their apps to make the text and images look sharp and crisp.

Bing SearchInternet Explorer 11Fresh Paint

Another improvement is in the Windows 8.1 keyboard which offers new and improved word suggestions  which you can switch between simply by swiping left or right on the space bar. Additionally the numbers are now available on top of the letters allows you to swipe up on a key to input the corresponding number instead of the letter. Inputting symbols has also been improved and can be accessed by holding down the question mark key and swiping in a given direction to enter the corresponding symbol.

If you are interested in trying out this preview of Windows 8.1 you can do so right now. However keep in mind that this is a pre-release build, (through it appears to be quite stable) so don't use it on your daily computer.

Downloading and Installing the Windows 8.1 update

In order to run Windows 8.1 make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements.
  • 1GHz processor or higher
  • 1GB of RAM or higher (32-bit) or 2GB of RAM or higher (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 compatible Graphics chipset
  • 20GB of free hard drive space
  • Installed Licensed/Activated version of Windows 8 
Once you make sure you meet the system requirements, head over to and click 'Get it now to initiate the process. The update will be offered through the Windows Store, however you need to install the patch from this website which will allow you to initiate the Windows 8.1 update. After patching, the system will reboot, and the next log on will offer you to update to Windows 8.1 Preview.

From this point onward you need to click “Go to the Store” and follow the on-screen instructions to download the preview files and install it on your computer. Be ready for a few reboots before you will find yourself running the new and improved Windows 8.1

Its great to see how Microsoft has improved Windows 8 with Windows 8.1 and we hope that the platform will continue to evolve over its evaluation period to offer a solid product when it finally arrives across all our devices.

source - Microsoft

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