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Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 Preview and you can try it right now

Microsoft has released the next version of Windows 8 yesterday, at the Build conference. It has everything you’d expect¬†from an incremental update, including a start button, redesigned Store, Search, better customization and more.

For me, the best part of it is that, you can give Windows 8.1 Preview a try right now – without being a developer (unlike OS X Mavericks, for example).

Windows 8.1 Preview

To get started, you first need to be running Windows 8. That’s because Windows 8.1 installation will be done via the Windows Store seamlessly. You can do it manually too, ISO files will be available pretty soon, keeping checking the download page on the site. The update is free, of course.

The size of update is 2.44 GB which is probably not so huge, if you have a good internet connection. Otherwise, you’re going to wait. There’s also no guarantee that the OS is going to be stable, as it is clearly named as a ‘Preview’. So make sure you backup your important files and all before proceeding.

Here’s a nice promo video made by Microsoft for previewing the OS.

Do these updates actually make Windows 8 better? Will you be trying out the Preview? Do comment below.

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Windows 8.1: Microsoft tries to fix major annoyances with an incremental update

This had to happen and many people have seen this coming. Microsoft is finally trying to address many of users’ common annoyances with a small update to its OS, Windows 8.

Windows 8 had got a lot of criticism that it’s much harder to use than the previous versions and that the change is too drastic. All that is indeed true. Apparently, it’s impossible for Microsoft to completely take a U-turn and get back to Windows 7. So, now they’re trying to appease users by making it a little less confusing.

Here’s the new stuff Microsoft’s releasing with Windows 8.1.

Start screen with Wallpaper in Windows 8.1

Bring that Start button back

Personally, I never really cared about the lack of Start button in Windows 8. Though, that’s not the case with most mainstream users. So with 8.1, MSFT is bringing the Start button back. Yes, for real. But only the button. Nothing more.

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If you hit the button, you’ll be taken back to the Start screen. Something is better than nothing, right?

Also, for all you Start screen haters, Microsoft has added a nice new feature to 8.1 and that’s boot to desktop. It will be off by default, but I’m sure there’ll be many users who will search for it and switch it on.

Do more inside Metro

App snapping in Windows 8.1

How much ever Microsoft tries to push Metro apps over desktop apps, it’s not going to change the fact that Metro apps suck. All stock Metro apps in Windows 8 are going to get updated, that includes Maps, Photos, Mail and etc.

Also, you can do a lot more customisation using Settings app itself, instead of relying on Control Panel. Again, it’s just Microsoft pushing Metro apps.

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App snapping has improved too. If you have a multi monitor setup, you can now snap 3 Metro apps. You can also snap windows of the same app. Think of viewing two websites loaded side by side in two Metro IE windows.

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Apart from these, there are small improvements like you can now search Bing through the Search feature in Charms bar. Windows Store, the ghost town, is updated with a better UI and more information and charts related to apps.

It seems like the update will be free for existing Windows 8 users and will probably made available in the Windows Store itself. (think OS X Mountain Lion)

Can these improvements make Windows 8 less irritating for you? Put that in the comments.

Source: The Windows blog

Related: Showdown: Windows 8 Vs. OS X Mountain Lion