Hurray! Windows 8.1 is here! It’s amazing how many improvements were added in such a short amount of time! I helped make it, so of course I love it. But I’ve been using it on my tablet for many months now and there are a few things that I’m particularly excited about!
Start the way I like it
Start is easily the crown-jewel of Windows 8.1. I loved Start in Windows 8, but it always felt like it was a listing of my apps, but not something that felt mine. In 8.1 it is just the way I like it. First of all, apps don’t auto-pin when I install them, which keeps the start screen clean and just for the apps I care about. The new tile sizes, do a lot to add more visual hierarchy to the layout and make it easier to find stuff. The new motion accents add a little bit of visual interest to the parallax scrolling. My favorite is the robots! Finally, the apps view is super easy to get to, since I only need to swipe up to get to it. It also has powerful sorts that let me view my apps by category, date or usage.
Searching all the things
Something that has changed how I use my Surface Pro, is Smart Search in Windows 8.1. First of all, the Search Charm is super efficient. From anywhere, I can just hit Win+S and quickly launch apps, settings, files, and web suggestions. Once I get to the search results page, I don’t have to go search somewhere else because it searches everything, from my SkyDrive and local files, to the web, images, videos, and even within apps like the Windows Store and Wikipedia. Search Heroes are awesome because it’s generating an app on the fly based on what I searched for. When I search for “Pacific Rim” I get the Pacific Rim Search Hero with deep links to other apps right from search results.
Touch keyboard reads my mind
The updated touch keyboard shows suggestions as I type so I can tap on the suggestions and not type all the letters. Since I like being efficient, I can swipe on the spacebar to select a suggestion without taking my fingers off the keys! The word suggestions that show up always seem to know what I want because they improve the more type and suggest contacts and trending terms. It’s definitely the best tablet touch keyboard I’ve ever used.
Wheel-y good photo editing
I’m totally addicted to the photo editing features you get when I open a photo. You get quick quick photo macros or if you want to fine-tune the photo, there are some super powerful photo edits, like lighting, saturation and color. My favorite part is the slick touch wheels that let me to get a lot done with only my thumbs. Recently, I’ve been addicted to Selective Focus which let’s me make it look like I have an expensive camera and add some drama to my photos.
Starting with Windows 8.1, I get more power to run multiple apps at the same time. I can split the screen 50:50 on my tablet or resize it to match the content that I’m using. I can have Twitter open small while i write code in Visual Studio, read an email while I author another one, or browse the web in one window while I watch Netflix. Multimon is ridiculously good because I can have up to four apps on each monitor and Windows supports more than 16 monitors. I totally underestimated how efficient I would be with this.
I’d love to hear the five things you love about Windows 8! Add to the comments or tweet me @dwcares!