I have been using Windows 8.1 for over a week now.
I listed some useful articles earlier that go into quite a bit of detail.
In this article I thought I’d share a few of the features that I have spent time with so far.
Probably the biggest change that I’ve noticed is the way of searching. When you bring up Search from the Charms bar, the default option is to search everywhere. You will see a mix of results, files on your computer, contacts, Bing images, etc. For example, a search for ‘Bob Dylan’ results in the following screen: you see a brief profile, then some songs from XBox Music, and then relevant websites.
A search for Perth, results in my documents that mention Perth, then a Bing map, contacts, news, images, and websites – and these can all be filtered from within the results screen.
Overall this is a great way to start researching a new topic, but it does make searching within apps more difficult than within Windows 8. You will notice more and more that apps will contain their own search boxes.
I rarely used Mail in Windows 8 as it was pretty feature poor. This app seems greatly improved. You can now drag and drop messages between folders and snap messages side-by-side. Naturally this works best with an Outlook account.
One thing that is pretty annoying for me: The Microsoft account I use with Windows 8.1 is also a Google account – but I cannot get it set up to work with my Gmail account. I can set up my Gmail account separately, but as an additional account; my default account is always empty and not working. Guess it’s my fault for using a Gmail address with Microsoft!
Microsoft has improved the built-in photos app with new options to use tools like crop, rotate, and additional editing features. This is great – it used to be quite fiddly to use different apps for editing and ended up with them being stored in various folders.
Flickr and Facebook photo integration have now been dropped – this is a shame because I used the Facebook one a lot. Now have to go to a separate app.
This looks great but is really annoying in Australia, as it is always inaccurate – it would be great if it got its data from BOM. I have looked at a few third-party apps that do sync with BOM but these are not very good. Maybe I should make one…
SkyDrive is much more closely integrated within the Windows 8.1 operating system now.
It is built into the search – so a search shows my SkyDrive files along with files on my computer. It is also integrated with apps – I can choose to open from or save to SkyDrive from with apps.
You can easily choose which files or folders you want access to offline. SkyDrive will also help you out here – if you open and edit a Word document on a particular device, that document will always be available offline on that device.
I also like how easy it is to use the SkyDrive app to browse and open files on my computer – this is something that teachers have been asking for, especially useful with touch devices:
I would like to see shared folders from within the SkyDrive app – a number of people have shared SkyDrive folders with me and these do not show up – I have to log in to SkyDrive from a browser to see these. Annoying!