When Microsoft announced a free upgrade from windows 8 to windows 8.1, many wondered just what the actual changes were. As such, here’s a brief guide that highlights the changes from windows 8 to windows 8.1 on the computer and an overview of some of the cool new stuff for windows phone.
Primary Changes with Computer
One of the primary faults that many users had with windows 8.0 was the lack of a start button and menu on the taskbar. Thankfully, the taskbar has been upgraded to include a start button, as well as the ability to place any app that you want to the taskbar. This taskbar will also be present at all times at the bottom of the start screen. Another new and welcome addition is the fact that users can now go straight to desktop once signing in instead of the start screen, though this can be switched back in settings options if you prefer the other method.
Also, instead of having to scroll over to a sidebar that would display the start, search and settings options, the power and search buttons are now displayed directly on the start screen, which can be found beside your username at the top-right hand corner of the page. Search is now much friendlier and will now display apps that match your search term as well. You might also like to know that the start screen includes a new notification on the bottom-left hand corner underneath your apps that reminds you about the latest apps you’ve installed.
The Mouse and Keyboard are easier to use within all screens so if you did not spend the extra for a touch screen you are not totally lost. Full screen apps now have the familiar close button and come with a menu bar so navigating with the mouse is simple. Your live tiles on the start menu can now be right-clicked for options to change their size, location on the taskbar or start menu and can even be turned off or uninstalled.
Cool Changes with Windows Phone
One of the biggest and most hyped new features in 8.1 is the personal assistant known as Cortana. Similar to Siri with iPhone or Androids, Google Now but powered by Bing and she will learn the things you like the most. She can set reminders, answers questions on weather, traffic and sports scores, help you make calls and send texts and even auto respond to people when you don’t want to be disturbed. Cortana uses a storage area called Notebook to keep information about what you like and what you ask her to do. You can find the Notebook by pressing Search and then tapping the horizontal bars in the upper-right corner of the screen. You can help Cortana learn about you quickly by editing the areas within her Notebook.
You can still personalize your start screen with live tiles just like your Windows 8.1 PC which puts your most used and important apps right where you want them. The size of the tiles are still changeable and new to 8.1 is the ability to group your tiles into folders and the ability to show more tiles as well. To turn on the Show more Tiles feature just look under settings, Start + Theme and slide the slider bar over to the right. This gives you three columns of tiles vs the standard two. To create folders on the start screen for your apps you need to tap and hold a tile and then push that tile on top of another until the folder appears in the foreground you can then name the folder and repeat the hold and push for other apps into that folder.
The customization for the cameras software has really been changed. You can now take a picture in Burst mode- this takes multiple images for one picture and then pick the one you like best. Any picture you don’t save from the burst group are automatically deleted after seven days. That default period is customizable as well. You now have customizable viewfinder settings one of which is Lenses. The Bing lens allows you to scan QR codes, the Office Lens (which you might have to download) allows you to scan photos, whiteboards and documents. The Office lens has been updated in 8.1 to have improved document scanning and allows you to choose where you want to save your scans. There are many more lenses available to play with including Vine for twitter. Want to take pictures in stealth mode without the shutter sound? You can now silence that click for such occasions.
This is just a small group of things that have changed with Windows 8.1 for a more in depth look or to watch some tutorials go to: