Microsoft Shows Off Windows 8.1 in Video, Talks Outlook RT

Microsoft has released a video preview of Windows 8.1, showcasing a number of features the company has already covered in previous blogs. These include new tile sizes in the Modern UI interface, the ability to bring the desktop wallpaper to the Start screen, and adding photographs to the Lock screen. Naturally the demo is conducted on a Surface tablet.

As previously reported, all applications installed on the device will no longer clutter the Start screen by default. Instead, they'll show up in an "app drawer", AKA the All Apps screen, tucked away at the bottom of the screen. Simply swipe up from the bottom, and you're greeted with everything installed locally on the device. Want to pin an app to the Start screen? Simply press and hold, and then choose "pin to Start". It looks rather simple when using a finger, if not extremely familiar.

One of the more interesting features offered in Windows 8.1 is motion accents. The "wallpaper" isn't in constant motion like you'd find on an animated Android wallpaper. Instead, objects in the background move when the Start screen tiles are swiped left and right horizontally. It's a tiny detail, but enough of one to give any Windows 8.1 device a bit more flair than before.

The demo, presented by Jensen Harris from the Windows User Experience team, reveals that Windows 8.1 is powered by the cloud. "An important part of this is SkyDrive which gives you Gigs of space to put all of your files up in the cloud so that they're available on every PC," he explains. "Within every app on the PC, I can see SkyDrive -- which is the cloud -- and "This PC" which lets me put files that I just want to keep on this device in a single place."

The video also goes on to demonstrate the new simplicity in multi-tasking, and searching online and offline when using Windows 8.1.

In related news, Windows CFO and CMO Tami Reller announced during Computex that Outlook 2013 RT will finally make an appearance on Windows RT tablets as part of the "Blue" rollout (opens in new tab). That means current and future owners of a Windows RT or Surface RT device will have access to the new app when the free update becomes available. Outlook joins Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote which are already available on the platform.

"We're always listening to our customers and one piece of feedback was that people want the power of Outlook on all their Windows PCs and tablets," Microsoft's Chris Schneider said. "In fact, a Morgan Stanley research study found that 61% of people shopping for tablets consider Microsoft Office to be the single most important software feature.  We're pleased to have Outlook 2013 RT join the other best-in-class Office 2013 RT applications."

  • Parrdacc
    Funny saw this video yesterday. While it is good Microsoft as addressed some of the problems with new interface and gave people more options it still sucks.
  • static1120
    All tough I installed windows 8 and went back to windows 7 because I did not like that there was no start button... I think I might give windows 8 a try once again
  • Caffeinecarl
  • javaskull
    I'm still going to cut peoples greasy fingers off with a bolt cutter if they touch my PC screen.
  • shafe88
    "We're always listening to our customers" If your listening to "YOUR" costomers, than where's my start button, and boot straight to desktop. If you where listening to us customers, then people wouldn't be upgrading to windows 7. The only reason microsoft won't bring back the start button and add boot straight to desktop, is to force people to use metro, more metro apps means more $$$.
  • p05esto
    That's neat and all....BUT I don't care about the lame start screen. I just want to get to the desktop and starting working with real apps. This might be great on tablets, so? I use a desktop and need and want the traditional experience. I refuse to reach out and touch my monitor, lol....not that it is even touch enabled. Grrrrr
  • Firion87
    What is this? Did they still not got it that NOBODY cares about the Metro UII. I just wasted 4:31 min to see a few seconds that on the desktop is a start button. I am not "gonna" pay for a tablet, or a touchscreen because a big touchscreen is not yet affordable..... This will go on and on till they have ruined the entire pc market. M$ is not going back to a pc user friendly OS, parts manufacturer don't got the technology to make cheap big touchscreens. Good bye pc era. In my opinion if M$ wanted to revolutionize the world they would have put every cent into developing the OS around Kinect and keep the Desktop. As people already say in the comments everybody hates fingerprints on the screen. Even Samsung found out that air gestures are "cool".
  • jamesjones_det
    My question is did they address the ability to run a desktop app and a metro app at the same time. For example the store metro app just says Store with my desktop and and won't let me do anything.
  • back_by_demand
    Firion87, you do not represent "everybody" and the vocal minority are exactly that, minor and usually Apple or Google fanboys
    As far as asking them to devote resources to making Windows a Kinect OS, exactly where do you think the next step of Windows is going? A touch OS can be controlled the same with Kinect as long as you have the correct drivers and it will arrive soon enough
    Oh ye of little faith
  • adminwizard
    Sounds like 8.1 should be renamed "stuff we should have thought of in the first place."