Good to see some much needed changes, although the underlying philosophy still stands, so many people, including me, will still have a fundamental issue with Windows 8.1, although to a lesser degree, as it certainly appears like a more polished experience.
About time they made such simple things like allowing for you to change the background in Metro to a picture of your liking (actually it shows the desktop picture, which makes a lot of sense) - I bet they had to optimize the kernel even more somewhere to offset the additional power consumption it brings - important for tablets - I guess this was primarily the reason for not having provided such basic functionality from the beginning.
Also nice to see the search feature improved. On the other hand, I sense Microsoft eventually being sued again as they are tying those services to Bing and not allowing
another service to do the same job. Also, I sure hope that you have the option to turn off the on-line search features, that is, be able to only conduct local searches.
IE 11 with the tabs moved to the bottom seems like a disaster though - for desktop users - it seems like an interesting idea in tablet mode but for desktop users you have the taskbar close by, making clicking on tabs a potential nightmare as you may end up starting a program instead.
Also, good to see that they have done work to make an all touch (as much as possible) experience on the control panel:
Other improvements include a focus on revamping the touch-friendly control panel. In Windows 8 Microsoft had around 10 percent of the settings converted to this mode, with 8.1 that extends a lot further with access to even more settings.
Clearly, as it is Windows 8, with only 10% done is a sending-the-user-back-and-forth-between-touch-and-desktop nightmare. I don't like their assumption that this will be the central place to control the computer though. Providing the same desktop experience is important. His words seem only political though, I guess you can keep doing things like you want.
Also, the inclusion of a touch centric calculator and alarm / stopwatch / timer apps clearly makes the OS feel a bit more complete, and testament that the current Windows 8 is anything but an Alpha build with some very basic things missing - especially important for tablets, which is kind of ironic given the supposed touch centric nature of Windows 8.
I find it rather funny that they are only willing to admit that "maybe" they only got things wrong a "little bit", but anyway, that's PR talk right there.
Also, not part of this article, but there is a link to it at the bottom of it:
Boot straight to desktop confirmed - at last, such a feature that should have been there from the beginning - ironic to think that a registry change actually allowed for it in the Developer Preview.
Also, a much needed feature:
"Show my desktop behind the Start Screen" will bring the Tiles in directly over the desktop background, making it less jarring to switch between them.
As it was it clearly felt like two badly glued OS'es, this bridges the gap, making it more tolerable and certainly a lot more elegant, not to mention making the Start screen a lot more pleasing, even for people like me that don't like the philosophy behind the OS.
The one thing missing is giving the option to change those tiles' colours from basic ones to more evolved textures - like varying colour tones of brushed aluminium, for example, that would make the OS feel a lot more pleasing.
A Start button - only a logical thing to do - it brings not only familiarity, but also the Windows brand to the desktop - Windows 8 actually looks like a generic OS without the brand at the bottom left (or wherever people have the taskbar).
You can also configure the Start button to go straight to a new All Apps section, which can be sorted by different views to make it more like a traditional Start menu with one click access.
Makes sense, and it allows Microsoft to stick to the nature of Windows 8, with which I disagree however.
I guess it will take Windows 8.2 for there to be a Start menu comeback, along with windowed Metro apps - which at least a third party program can already do. This may seem like nitpicking, but it's a fundamental thing. Having two desktops, even though with a much more elegant transition now, that can't really interact effectively with each other is bound to bring all sorts of usability problems and limitations.
For those from the DOS years, I'd say that the Metro interface looks like a batch file - it's basic in nature, can serve as a launcher for executables, and has a very limited degree of interaction with these, as said, it can launch them and detect a few basic errors coming from said executables, but there is no real interaction.Edited by tpi2007 - 5/30/13 at 7:16pm