Windows 8.1 RTM Leaked Build

I’ve been using Windows 8 from the Consumer Release Preview – a fact I’m actually quite proud of. I’ve only just realised, however, that I haven’t really talked much about my experience with the new OS here on my blog and hope to make that right starting with this post.

For one reason or another I’ve skipped all previous Windows 8.1 leaked builds but with the “RTM” build hitting the Web I finally gave in to the hobbyist within. As an IT enthusiast who actually quite likes the new OS I’ve been keeping up with news on the improvements in 8.1 mainly over at Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows and ZDNet.

Even though I was familiar with most of the changes in 8.1.before trying the leaked build it’s nice to experience the changes for myself. And yes, Windows 8.1 is definitely a better experience for me.

I’ve taken a few screenshots of some of the changes which I personally quite like along with some notes on my thoughts here and there.

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First and foremost, the return of the Start button! I’ll never know why Microsoft left it out in the first place.

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Right-click on the Start button to shut down your computer and also access some advanced options.

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You can choose to have your Desktop wallpaper as the background on your Start screen. Definitely a good move from Microsoft as it makes the transition from Desktop to Start screen a lot easier on the eyes.

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Two more sizing options for tiles on the Start screen – large and small. Large tiles are especially good for Live tiles.

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There’s no need to install the desktop Skydrve application as its’ integrated into Windows 8.1. It’s interesting that the contents of the Skydrive folder on your Windows 8 computer are just shortcuts to the actual files stored in the cloud.

You can choose to make a file or whole folders available offline.

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Trying to open any of the files from the Skydrive folder will first download it to your computer and then open in its respective application.

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With Windows 8.1 you access the Sync settings from within Skydrive settings page.

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You can now back up your entire personalisation settings for your particular PC on Skydrive which you can apply to another Windows 8.1 computer at a later time, saving you from making the customizations all over again from scratch.

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A much better layout and user experience within Windows Store. The terrible seemingly never-ending horizontal scrolling was a major cause of frustration for me and many users too. Now you can access filter the apps by category, Top paid, etc from the right-click context menu.

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A redesigned layout for the Calendar app. The default view is a collection of your upcoming events for easy viewing.

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You also have the usual Calendar views from the right-click context menu on the top of the screen.

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Lastly Microsoft has removed the option to create a backup image of your computer from the recovery options and I’m not too happy to see the feature taken away.

I can understand the future of personal computing will be more about tablet and hybrid devices and online services but we’re not quite there yet. I imaging Windows 8.1 and its subsequent iterations (8.2?) will be used on a sizeable number of “traditional” PC’s in the near future once prices for All In One computers and touch screen monitors and accessories come down to an acceptable level.

I’ve been using third party solutions like Macrium Reflect and FOG for image-based recovery and it was nice to be able to do this natively from within Windows 8.

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