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Microsoft outs the new features in Windows 8.1: Here's what you need to know

Brad Chacos | May 31, 2013
Desktop diehards will find a present waiting for them in Windows 8.1, the impending upgrade colloquially dubbed "Windows Blue." A wonderful, horrible, oh-so-teasing present.

"The updated PC Settings in Windows 8.1 gives you access to all your settings on your device without having to go to the Control Panel on the desktop," Microsoft's introductory blog post explains.

Internet Explorer 11 will make its debut in Windows 8.1, as well. While most of the tweaks sounds fairly basic--faster page loads, better touch performance--it's also adding the tab syncing feature seen in leaked builds of Blue, allowing you to open tabs across multiple Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets.

Speaking of, Windows 8.1 also adds the ability to sync your settings and Start screen apps across multiple devices, assuming you sign in to those devices using an online-connected Microsoft account.

The Windows Store and the default Microsoft apps are also being tweaked, per Microsoft's new continuous improvement push. The Search charm, meanwhile, is being overhauled to "provide global search results powered by Bing in a rich, simple-to-read, aggregated view of many content sources." It sounds like it could be either awesome or horrible; I can't wait to try it.

More minute improvements include more Live Tile sizing options, additional category filters in the All Apps screen, and a plethora of Start screen tile shuffling options.

So, do these tweaks equate to blue skies or Windows Blah? You'll be able to judge for yourself on June 26, when Microsoft releases a developer preview of Windows 8.1 to coincide with the BUILD conference.


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