Windows 8.1 (Blue)

One of Directions Training’s Microsoft training experts wanted you to know…

There’s a new version of Windows 8 in the works, Windows 8.1 or Blue. Screenshots of various builds of Blue have been widely circulated on the Internet and the rumored first public preview is during the Developer’s Conference scheduled in late June.

The last ‘leaked’ build, 9369, sports some features that, in part, represent a response to the lack of the Start menu, present in all prior releases of Windows, however, there is no indication of a true Start button or menu. The latest build allows the operating system to boot to the desktop, rather than the Start screen and an All Apps button situated in the bottom-left area of the screen.

Personalization settings have been added to the Charms menu and additional applications added to the Start Screen, including Movie Moments, Calculate and Sound Recorder. The application tiles (Live Tiles) can also be resized to allow more tiles to fit in the active area of the Start screen.

Another new feature that was first made available in Windows Server 2012 is the ReFS file system. ReFS is the Resilient File System designed to provide better protection for disk metadata, as well as user data. Used in conjunction with Storage Spaces, ReFS can detect and correct data corruption with no loss of user data.

While the latest build of Windows 8.1 doesn’t restore the Start menu, as many Windows users had hoped, there are some 3rd party solutions that will display a Windows 7 style Start menu in the Windows 8 Start screen. Classic Shell and StartlsBack are a couple of very good Start menu ‘restorers’. Classic Shell is free (donations gratefully accepted) and StartIsBack is $3.00.  StartIsBack best resembles the Windows 7 Start menu but has more customizable options than the Windows 7 Start menu offered.

With the public release still a couple of months away and a beta release not yet on the horizon, it’s safe to say that more changes are likely for Windows Blue. The big question is whether it will be released as a free upgrade, like a service pack, to current Windows 8 users or if it will be marketed as a major revision that must be purchased, like Windows Server 2008 R2.

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