By: Patrick McNamara
Microsoft Windows 8.1 provides PC users the best of touchscreen apps and desktop productivity, including improvements to the Windows 8.0 release. Windows 8.1 is available as a free upgrade for current Windows 8.0 users and for purchase for users of Windows 7.0 and prior. This release includes an improved search engine and cloud back-up via SkyDrive, among other new and improved features. We will discuss some of the highlights of this new release in this blog and in a second blog soon to follow.
Smarter Search Engine
One of the most important upgrades in this release is the improved search engine, Bing Smart Search. This new version searches through files located on your PC, apps, cloud files (via SkyDrive), and the web all at once. Results are displayed in a graphic view and are organized by category and where the results were found. Results from your personal files are listed first followed by results from apps and the web. You can launch apps and content directly from the search results.
Automatic Cloud Back-up
Windows 8.1 provides built-in, free, online storage through SkyDrive. You can save documents, photos, and any other files to SkyDrive automatically and access them anytime, from any of your PC or devices. SkyDrive also ensures that you have the latest version of files regardless of which device you are accessing it from. SkyDrive allows you to share and collaborate with others even on mobile and non-Windows devices. SkyDrive also provides backup and protects your files if something goes wrong with your PC.
Skype is the always-on app that allows you to stay in touch with contacts through instant messaging and voice and video calls. All Skype-to-Skype video and voice calls are free. In Windows 8.1, when Skype is used with the snap view, multitasking is seamless and much more flexible. You can also switch more easily between instant message conversations in this release.
If you are currently running Windows 8.0 on your PC, we think upgrading to 8.1 is a must. This free upgrade adds useful new features and tweaks to Windows 8.0. For businesses, there are some new and updated in features in Windows 8.1 that will help your initiatives in BYOD, mobility, and security. Microsoft has instructions for upgrading on their website and a Windows Upgrade Assistant is available to help you determine if your PC can run Windows 8.1. Be sure to check back to our website soon for a second blog on more of what’s new in Windows 8.1.