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Windows 8.1 Preview Now Available for Download

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 24 comments

Want your Start Button back? Get your Windows 8.1 preview here!

If you've been using Windows 8 and have been pining for some refinements, then today is your day. Microsoft today officially released a preview version of Windows 8.1, which is a free download for all the adventurous types. The final version doesn't ship until later this year, so this is your chance to see it early. Of course, Microsoft cautions that this preview version is just for "experienced PC users," which we're sure you all are. Nonetheless, check out the FAQ first to be sure it's for you.

New features include better Bing integration, much improved Maps and a better implementation of the start screen and start button. Check out all the new features in the product guide (PDF)

If all systems are go, then click here to get to the Windows 8.1 Preview.


For more from Microsoft Build 2013, check out our keynote live blog from today!

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  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , June 26, 2013 12:37 PM
    We don't want the Start Button, we want the Start Menu, the ability to run windowed Metro apps, and all this to be done out-of-the-box for Microsoft to prove they're committed to keeping the desktop indefinitely.
  • 0 Hide
    Stimpack , June 26, 2013 12:49 PM
    Bing isn't a feature, it's a death sentence. Also I've been working extensively with Windows since DOS, and Windows 8 is and has been great.
  • 0 Hide
    Stimpack , June 26, 2013 12:50 PM
    Alright, yeah, it hasn't been great. Metro was not implemented well at all, and I never use it. Aside from that, though, it has some very decent features and it runs perfectly well.
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    Osmin , June 26, 2013 12:53 PM
    Let’s hope they fix the worst part of Windows 8 in the next release, the inability of Metro Apps to run in a window on the Desktop. Having tablet apps take the full screen, or a 1/4 screen on the side of a large desk top monitor in a verticle shape is plain ugly and counterproductive. I should be able to populate my large display with as many small metro apps wherever I want them to be and remove them from the desktop as easily as closing a normal Windows program thus keeping the desktop as the primary work place. I enjoyed using the weather and calendar widget in windows 7 and pinning Metro apps in order to emulate widgets would have been a nice feature too. You even saw the woman that demonstated the new features stuggling to find her apps because of the counterproductive start menu in Windows 8. Group icons that hold related apps is better than scrolling a massive list where all icons become similar and confusing. They could have added frequently used apps on the buttom with the option to load a previously used file by holding down the icon and swiping to the desired file in a pop up list. Microsoft is trying to kill the Desktop which is where non-tablet users want to be.
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , June 26, 2013 12:54 PM
    Quote:
    We don't want the Start Button, we want the Start Menu, the ability to run windowed Metro apps, and all this to be done out-of-the-box for Microsoft to prove they're committed to keeping the desktop indefinitely.


    Actually people wanted both. But there is a Start "Menu" in it. You can set it to show the All Apps instead of the Start Screen which does the same thing as the old Start Menu, i.e. alphabetizes it and shows commonly used apps, but uses the screen instead of a small box.

    Honestly Windows 8 is fine. I have been using it since its release and will throw the 8.1 preview on when I get home. People hate change. People did the same thing when we went from DOS to Windows, then 98/2K -> XP and even XP -> 7 (I have had some people say 7 is a horrible OS compared to XP). Eventually people move on 8 has great features, a much more optimized kernel and is much faster than 7 on the same hardware. Not sure what the downside to it is.
  • 0 Hide
    mcd023 , June 26, 2013 12:55 PM
    really? all of the new stuff and you talk about that?
  • 0 Hide
    tolham , June 26, 2013 1:17 PM
    Quote:
    People hate change..... and even XP -> 7 (I have had some people say 7 is a horrible OS compared to XP).


    really? my impression was that people hated switching from XP to vista, but then 7 was warmly welcomed. in fact, i thought there was a pattern to windows releases. 95 was hated for being buggy, but 98 was good. then ME was crap but XP was good. then vista was crap, but 7 was good. and now 8 is generally considered crappy.
  • 0 Hide
    Stimpack , June 26, 2013 1:20 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    People hate change..... and even XP -> 7 (I have had some people say 7 is a horrible OS compared to XP).


    really? my impression was that people hated switching from XP to vista, but then 7 was warmly welcomed.


    People hated Windows 7 in the beginning as well. There's a real blind hatred that goes around, because I guess it's just cool to hate. After it was released it ended up being well-received.
  • 0 Hide
    fritters , June 26, 2013 1:29 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    We don't want the Start Button, we want the Start Menu, the ability to run windowed Metro apps, and all this to be done out-of-the-box for Microsoft to prove they're committed to keeping the desktop indefinitely.


    Actually people wanted both. But there is a Start "Menu" in it. You can set it to show the All Apps instead of the Start Screen which does the same thing as the old Start Menu, i.e. alphabetizes it and shows commonly used apps, but uses the screen instead of a small box.

    Honestly Windows 8 is fine. I have been using it since its release and will throw the 8.1 preview on when I get home. People hate change. People did the same thing when we went from DOS to Windows, then 98/2K -> XP and even XP -> 7 (I have had some people say 7 is a horrible OS compared to XP). Eventually people move on 8 has great features, a much more optimized kernel and is much faster than 7 on the same hardware. Not sure what the downside to it is.


    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-8-gaming-performance,3331-13.html

    Looks to me like windows 8 doesn't run things any better. Seems like a complete waste to move from my full windows 7 to something that does not improve functionality measurably. Like picking up a new video card every generation seems pointless.
    f you mean that windows 8 itself runs smoother, then I have no way to know what you mean. Where can I buy the hardware that has trouble running windows?
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , June 26, 2013 1:43 PM
    Quote:
    People hated Windows 7 in the beginning as well. There's a real blind hatred that goes around, because I guess it's just cool to hate. After it was released it ended up being well-received.


    "Haterz gonna hate" is the last desperate argument of Microfans. Users didn't hate Windows 7, in fact it had three times the adoption rate of Windows 8, and even Vista had a 50% higher adoption rate than Windows 8 has.

    It's not blind hatred, it's not we hate change, it's that we use our computers a certain way and Microsoft doesn't get to tell us to change, they need to adapt to us instead. I don't want full screen anything on my computer, so I don't like the Start Screen. I won't use any Metro apps for the same reason.

    And the myth that Windows 8 runs better/faster than Windows 7 needs to go away becasuse:
    A: it's not true;
    B: I don't care, I'm not using slower hardware, I'm using faster hardware;
    C: it wouldn't make up for the Start Screen nonsense anyway.

    Face it, Windows 8 is a worse disaster than Vista, and Microsoft is just starting to realize that which is why they're rolling back many changes, beginning with the Start Button.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , June 26, 2013 1:54 PM
    Quote:
    Actually people wanted both.


    95% of PC users still do not use Windows 8... so no... people didn't want both.

    Quote:
    but uses the screen instead of a small box.


    Exactly, and I want it in a small box, so it doesn't cover the screen while I'm watching something on YouTube or whatever. In case you want to argue about that, don't bother - I'm the customer and I want things my way and Microsoft could have left the option for the normal Start Menu, but they didn't so now they're paying the price.

    Quote:
    People did the same thing when we went from DOS to Windows


    Windows 95 was very unreliable on a lot of hardware and it was pretty much useless for gaming until maybe Windows 98 SE. That said, by 1995 most DOS programs were trying to be like Windows, using Windows-like interface, mouse, etc. In case of Windows and Metro, there was and is really no demand for Windows to be used on tablets, so unlike DOS>Windows, Microsoft is not following their user base but instead trying to force them to change. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it doesn't work that way.
  • 0 Hide
    howard69 , June 26, 2013 2:19 PM
    my large display with as many small metro apps wherever I want them to be and remove them from the desktop as easily as closing a normal Windows program
    ----------------
    yes! just treat the metro aps like live Windows icons!
    i'm game for that one
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , June 26, 2013 2:31 PM
    killerclick, I never said in gaming. OSes normally are not much different. Even 7 was a bit slower than Vista/XP at release. Once games optimize for it the new OS features, such as WDDM 1.2 or whatever DX version, it may change.

    As for faster, Windows 8 starts up faster, especially on SSDs. Windows 8 transfers files faster and more consistently than 7 does (from personal experience as well as working on multiple OSes at my work).

    As for 8 being a bigger disaster than Vista, do you not remember how systems came out with 1GB of RAM and onboard graphics that could barley support Aero? Vista was bad. Very bad. Not the OS but more the issues surrounding it.

    8 however is like 7, works great on existing hardware and uses a bit less overall.

    Either way, no one forces you to move to 8. 7 will be around for a while so stick with it. I just think 8 is actually a good OS and is just going through the same stuff every OS with major changes has to go through.
  • 0 Hide
    nevilence , June 26, 2013 2:50 PM
    people want the "old start menu" thats it, its that simple, they dont want a look alike, they dont want to pay for something that mimics it, they just want the "old start menu". for all you fanbois arguing that everyone hates change and it will happen regardless. you look at the adoption rate of win 8 and tell me "its happening"
  • 0 Hide
    Darkerson , June 26, 2013 7:27 PM
    I still think Windows 8 is pretty good, overall, and love some of the refinements they made under the hood, but I have changed my stance about the Start Screen, since it did amount to them taking options away, instead of expanding upon them. Classic Shell fixed that, and now I can continue to enjoy the refinements of 8 with the Start menu from 7 (or XP, if i so desired)
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    teodoreh , June 27, 2013 12:11 AM
    There's an aerodynamic terminology describing the effect on jets that shows the difference between the the frontal position of the aircraft and the actual direction. For example if you violently try to pull up while falling, you may end up with a nose looking up and an airplane going down.

    That's exactly what is happening with Win8. Microsoft tried to be innovative and tried to promote its other platforms (Win8 RT, Windows mobile) though the well-established user base of Windows x86/64. The aeroplane is actually falling, but MS doesn't care because they can afford to do so due to high altitude (=monopoly on OS market).

    Windows 8 was plan stupid to start. There was nothing innovative in particular compared with Windows 7, and tbh, nothing that couldn't get included on Win7 SP2. MS didn't even had the courage to release exclusive x64 version! On the other hand, it has worse graphics, and a revamped - terrible interface for people who for decades got used to a pretty much solid UI. It didn't made any sense trying to find your way through icons without touch screen, and all OS-interactive operations (like shut down) was hidden behind like MS didn't wanted us to interact with our PC at all.

    Overally, Win8 were plan stupid. Microsoft tries to copy Apple's model with Windows RT and if they could transfer ALL users from x86 to RT they would be quite happy because x86/x64 Windows are considered to be a universal OS and they cannot apply monopoly rules like the AppStore that RT has.

  • 0 Hide
    cin19 , June 27, 2013 4:56 AM
    Who care, we can add it by ourselves.
  • 0 Hide
    cepheid , June 27, 2013 5:38 AM
    Preview 8.1 is not good and the Start Button is terrible. It takes you to the metro screen and makes it so you cannot use thrid party start buttons.
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    sagansrun , June 27, 2013 6:22 AM
    I just love all these whiney people complaining about a stupid start button. Win-fail 8. Really? That's the best you can come up with?

    This reminds me of when Win95 came out and everyone complained about the start button being to confusing. Then XP pro came out and everyone said its to cartoony for them. If this is all you're worried about you have other issues that need addressing.

  • 0 Hide
    MaCk0y , June 27, 2013 9:07 AM
    Ex7forW8.
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