Windows 8.1 Blue review

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Windows 8.1 Blue LogoOn 26th June 2013 Microsoft introduced new large update for Windows 8 called Windows 8.1 "Blue" and released it as a free public preview for beta testing. Final release will be available in late 2013 on Microsoft's Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows RT (ARM version of Windows 8 for tablets).

If you want to try it, you can download ISO installation images on Microsoft Windows 8.1 Blue website. It is available in 32-bit and 64-bit version with various languages.

News and improvements in Microsoft Windows 8.1 Blue

Microsoft announced about 20 new improvements in Windows Blue. Now we will show you some of them.


Start button

In Windows 8 Desktop, Microsoft removed Start button from the left down corner. Windows 8.1 Blue has it back. Unfortunately, it again switches user to Modern UI (Metro) environment.

Windows 8.1 Blue Start button

Windows 8.1 Blue Start button

If you want a classic Start menu like Windows 7, you still need to install a third-party applications, like Start8 from Stardock.

Booting to Desktop

Microsoft Windows 8 is booting directly to Metro. With third party applications you are able to set up booting to Desktop. Windows 8.1 are able to boot to the Desktop without any utility, only you set this option in Taskbar and navigation properties.

Windows 8.1 Blue boot to desktop settings

Windows 8.1 Blue boot to desktop option

Metro apps multitasking

Now you can run two Metro apps together on one screen (maximal is four on large screens).

Windows 8.1 Blue multitasking

Windows 8.1 Blue multitasking in Metro

New size of Metro tiles

Tiles can be set to four ranges: Small, Medium, Wide and Large. It can be also "live" with information preview.

Windows 8.1 Blue tile size settings

Windows 8.1 Blue tile size settings

Same and animation wallpapers

Metro UI and Desktop now can have the same wallpaper. Wallpapers for Metro can be now animated.

Windows 8.1 Blue Metro Wallpaper

Windows 8.1 Blue Wallpaper same as desktop

New Apps sorting in Metro

All apps are now available by click on down arrow in the Metro left down corner. If you have a touch display (Tablet) you can view all apps by swipe up with your finger.

Windows 8.1 Blue Apps sorting

Windows 8.1 Blue apps sorting

Metro settings

Metro can manage much more settings of the computer and you don't need to use classic Control Panel in Desktop mode.

Windows 8.1 Blue Metro PC settings

Windows 8.1 Metro PC Settings

New Search

New Windows 8.1 Search feature searching for information in all places in the computer as well as on the Internet with Bing search engine.

Windows 8.1 Blue Search

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Metro Search

Windows Store

Windows Store is now able to install updates for apps automatically and contains better search capabilities. Facebook and Flipboard announced new native clients for their services.

Windows 8.1 Blue Windows Store

Windows 8.1 Blue Windows Store

Photo editor

Photos app in Metro contains easy-to-use digital photo editing features. You can auto fix photos, rotate photos, cropping, retouching, add effects, like vignette, selective focus etc.

Windows 8.1 Blue Photo Editor

Windows 8.1 Blue Photo Editor

Calculator and Alarm

Microsoft improve calculator and Alarms Metro apps. They are more optimized for touch display. The calculator stores three different variants Standard calculator, Scientific calculator and Converter. Alarms is also able to working as Timer and Stopwatch.

Windows 8.1 Blue Alarms and calculator

Windows 8.1 Blue Alarms and Calculator

Internet Explorer 11

New Internet Explorer is available in Metro and Desktop version. It contains new features to improve performance of visualizing web pages and integrates WebGL API to rendering 3D and 2D graphics.

Windows 8.1 Blue Internet Explorer 11

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Blue Internet Explorer 11

Smart Lock screen

Lock screen can view slideshow created from digital photos stored on local storage, or SkyDrive. You are able to answer a Skype call from notifications etc.

Windows 8.1 Blue Smart Lock Screen

Windows 8.1 Blue Smart Lock Screen

Gestures without Kinect

Windows Blue stores new feature that is able to recognize gestures only with web camera. Now this feature working in Food and Drink app. However, through API it may be available for other applications.

Improvements for tablets

Some of the new features are available only for Windows 8, or Windows RT tablets.

Camera directly from the lock screen

Camera is accessible directly from the lock screen. Simply swipe down by the finger on display.

Spherical panorama

Camera in tablet is now able to capture spherical panoramas.

Optimizations for small touch displays

Windows 8.1 Blue is now optimized for 8" tablets and higher.


Related software and links:

Microsoft Windows 8 icon

Microsoft Windows 8    Microsoft Windows platform
First operating system from Windows family designed with touchscreens in mind


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