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BLOG: Leaked Windows 8.1 Build 9471 surprises, disappoints

Woody Leonhard | Aug. 13, 2013
Windows 8.1 X 64 Pro Build 9471 — apparently leaked, but very close to final — hit torrents and download sites worldwide late yesterday. Here's what I've found

Skype gets installed with Build 9471, although you have to go fishing in the All Apps list to find it.

A variant on the old Kiosk Mode, called Assigned Access, made it into Build 9471. Through the Metro PC Settings menu, you can tell Build 9471 to restrict specific Windows users so that they can use only one designated Metro app. It took an experienced Win8 user about 10 minutes to crack the security on that feature. Hint: Bring up Task Manager.

That's the good part. Here's the bad part.

Microsoft didn't back down on Smart Search. I wrote about Smart Search in my look at the black underbelly of Windows 8.1. In a nutshell, if you turn on Smart Search, Bing (and thus Microsoft) gets to collect every single search term that you use on your machine. I'm not talking about gathering up searches made online — those are fair game as far as I'm concerned, and if you use Bing to do online searches, you probably realize that Microsoft's going to keep the information. I find it infuriating that Microsoft is now reaching into Windows itself and pulling out local search terms, as long as Smart Search is enabled.

Smart Search is new for Windows 8.1. What really bugs me? Smart Search is enabled by default.

Microsoft also had a chance to back down on the way it's hiding Windows Libraries. In Windows 8, when you bring up File Manager, the Libraries are listed on the left, the same way they were listed in Windows 7. The default configuration for the Libraries — Documents, Photos, Music, and Videos — put both the user's folder in the Library and the corresponding Public folder in the Library. For example, in Win7 or Win8, File Explorer (nee Windows Explorer) would show you the Photos Library and it would point to both \My Photos and \Public Photos. That made it very easy to share files with other people on the same machine or between machines in a trust environment like a Homegroup.

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has disassembled the whole shooting match.

First, Libraries are not shown by default in File Explorer. You have to monkey around with the View ribbon's Navigation Pane icon to even see Libraries. By contrast, SkyDrive is front and center in the new File Explorer. In Windows 8, SkyDrive only appeared in File Explorer if you explicitly installed the SkyDrive Windows program.

Second, Microsoft doesn't build default libraries the way they used to. In Windows 8.1, the Documents Library consists of the machine's \Documents folder, plus the SkyDrive \Documents folder. The \Public\Documents folder is ignored entirely. In addition, the Photos, Music, and Videos Libraries each consist of just one folder — the user's folder of the same name.


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