Microsoft continues to release information about the update to Windows 8, also known as Windows 8.1 (that will be available later this year). At COMPUTEX Taipei 2013 (a computer show that attracts people from all over the word) the company showed off Windows 8.1 and its new features. Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of Windows management joined other top Microsoft executives on stage to give the very first public demo of the upcoming update. This release includes many exciting updates- some of which came from customer feedback.
One of the bigger announcements is that Outlook 2013 will be coming to Windows tablets. Other updates include changes to the start screen and improved security features.
Changes to the Start Screen
Some of the bigger changes to the start screen have to do with applications and appearance. It seems as though Microsoft really focused on usability and customization this time around. Apps can now be moved to the start screen and grouped together in a list. The entire list of apps can also be sorted on a separate page, making them easier to locate. There are also new options for customizing the start screen and backgrounds (such as new colors and graphics).
There is a new search bar that searches the entire PC as well as the web at one time. In a video on Microsoft’s website, Jensen Harris from the Windows User Experience Team shows how a search will bring up search results from the PC and the internet in one place. In the video, he searches for Marilyn Monroe. Not only do files located on the tablet come up, but images and website previews. There is also the ability to pick which color the user would like to search for in the resulting images. SkyDrive is also a large part of this release, with Microsoft still pushing users “into the cloud”. Files can now be saved directly to SkyDrive.
Probably the most exciting change is the ability to split the screen between multiple apps- allowing users greater freedom in multitasking. A user can open email and a picture at the same time. With email running, the user can adjust and make changes to the picture before placing it in the email.
This new version also allows users to customize the background of the start-up screen with images. The lock-out screen can now be filled with rotating images.
After 10 years of working on security issues, Windows 8 is now stronger than ever. Chris Hallum, senior product manager for Windows 8 states,
“Windows 7 is six times more likely to get infected than Windows 8 and Windows XP is 21 times more likely to be exploited.”
Also, Microsoft will also protect browsers against stolen certificates. Because browsers trust certificates to identify web sites, hackers target them as a way to break into accounts. Hallum states, “Public certificates have already been hacked, in a number of cases certificates for well-known companies like Yahoo and Google have been compromised and used on fake web sites to steal credentials.” Windows 8.1 also is improving BitLocker for business systems and all versions of Windows include encryption. “We need it not just to protect your data but also the system itself; we don’t want people to be able to tamper with Windows system files,” he explained. “We expect encryption to be pervasive,” he predicted.
Learn more about the new updates to Windows 8.1 on Microsoft’s blog.