On paper, the list of changes that Microsoft made to Windows 8.1 don't seem all that major.....?. The fact that Microsoft is bringing back the Start button and now allowing users to boot right into the desktop is a sign that the company has been listening to its users.
The Start button's main function in Windows 8.1 is actually to call up the Start screen, however, Microsoft has added a new Apps screen that can take the place of the Start menu when you click the Start button. The Apps screen simply lists all your apps without the interference of live tiles and other embellishments. You can sort the list by name, most often used and newest apps. You can also invoke the Apps screen by swiping up from the Start screen.
In other words, the new Start button brings back all the functionality of the Start button from Windows 7, but with the look and feel of the more modern Windows 8.1.
The biggest change in Windows 8.1 is the expansion of the "snap view" feature that enables multiple apps on the screen at the same time.
The other major change in Windows 8.1 is that when you use two Windows Store apps (previously known as Metro or Modern UI apps) side-by-side, you can now resize these windows at will. Many of the new tweaks to Windows exist to make the Modern UI more enticing as the primary mode of computing.
Another marquee feature of Windows 8.1 is the new search tool. As Microsoft previously revealed, the built-in search tool can now look for way more than files and settings. Instead, it’s now a universal search tool that looks for results on the web (using Bing), your hard drive, SkyDrive, inside your documents and in apps that support this feature.
The system requirements are the same as for current Windows 8 products: for starters, a 1GHz or faster processor and a MicrosoftDirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver. A 32-bit system will need 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space, while 64-bit systems will need 2GB of RAM and 20GB of storage space. For the Windows RT 8.1 Preview, you’ll need a device that’s already running Windows RT and also has 10 GB of free storage space.
Remember that Windows 8.1 Preview is a beta-level operating system that could your PC crash and you could lose important files. You should back up your data and you shouldn't test the preview on your primary home or business PC. You might also encounter problems like:
- Software that doesn’t install or work correctly, including antivirus or security programs.
- Printers, video cards, or other hardware that doesn’t work.
- Difficulty accessing corporate or home networks.
- Damage to some of your files.
You should carefully balance the risks and rewards of trying out the preview before you install it.
At PCWorld labs, They've tried loading it on 5 systems and have already had one hang. Another, low-powered system is taking forever to chug through the process.
Download Windows 8.1 Preview