Windows 8.1 – What’s New and should I upgrade?

8_1_start

So you finally got to grips with Windows 8 and now in about 1 weeks time you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1. If that bring you out in a cold sweat imaging all the changes that are coming, worry not, as its not a radical change, more an evolution and some nice tweaks that were missing in Windows8.

Upgrading to Windows 8.1

It’s quite simple and will be offered to owners of Windows 8 as a free download. However it is a full upgrade of your operating systems, so you may loose information, depending on how you have your PC configured. Here are some tips to help it go smoothly:

  • Back up your files and pictures. Use cloud storage if you have it and if not why not consider a free DropBox account
  • If you don’t already have a Microsoft Account (How did you manage that?) then set one up and link you PC to it. Here’s how… This will back up the majority of your settings and also most modern apps will reinstall after update
  • Make sure you know all your passwords for email, social networks and wifi
  • Get all your desktop program disks or downloaded files and product keys ready. Desktop applications will be lost after the upgrade.

What’s New?

8_1_TipsThank fully you don’t need to look hard to find out what is new in Windows 8.1, as it tells you. On the start screen is a new App Help+Tips, which not only give you a guide to using Window 8.1 but for those who already know Windows 8, it tell you about what is new.

8_1_helpnTips

But so you don’t’ need to wait until you’ve upgraded your PC- here’s the text:

Here are some of the new things in this version of Windows

Search

Get results from your PC (such as files, songs and settings) and from the web with Bing. For some searches, you can tap or click right from the results to open maps, play songs or call a business.

Using multiple applications on one screen

Arrange applications side by side in whatever size works best for you.

Personalisation

More tile sizes, more colour options and animated backgrounds for Start.

All applications

See all your apps in one place with the Apps view. Install an app and it’s on the Apps view. You can choose which apps to pin to Start so you can keep your Start screen organised.

Windows Store

The Store has a new layout with larger images and more information for each app. Swipe down from the top of the Store or right-click to see apps organised by categories.

New built-in apps

Windows comes with new built-in apps, including Calculator, Alarms, Reading List, Food & Drink and Health & Fitness.

Mail, Calendar and People

See messages from your favourite people in one view, use Sweep to keep your inbox clean and personalise the new upcoming events view with your own background images.

Photos

Edit your photos with rich editing tools in the new Photos app.

Desktop features

The Start button has returned to the taskbar (tap or click to get to Start). Or go straight to the desktop or Apps view instead of Start when you sign in. Use the same background for your desktop and Start.

Lock screen

Answer Skype calls, take photos or see a slide show of your photos without having to unlock your PC.

Easier to enter text

If you use more than one language in Windows, you can enter text more easily with new and improved keyboard layouts for Input Method Editors (IMEs).

Touch keyboard

The updated touch keyboard learns as you type, suggesting the current and next word in your sentence. Swipe across the spacebar to cycle through suggestions so that you dont have to take your hands off the keyboard. Quickly insert numbers with a simple swipe on the top row of the touch keyboard. Emoji are now in colour.

Two places to save files

Save to your PC or to your cloud storage on SkyDrive when saving files.

More settings in PC settings

Most settings that were only available in Control Panel are now in PC settings. The settings you use most often are displayed on the first page of PC settings so you can get to them easily.

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