A Layman’s Guide To Understanding The Update Called Windows 8.1

Windows-8.1

There have been many reactions to Microsoft Windows 8 and most of them were unsatisfactory in several ways. With an obviously demoralized desktop market and struggling tablet sales, Microsoft has been tasked to come up with a solution to stay faithful to its numerous customers. Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s soon to be released update to the already existing Windows 8,  aims to be a clear improvement over Windows 8 in virtually all aspects. It also promises to be more robust than it’s predecessor. It is not another operating system.  But as you would soon see, Microsoft has come with a rather interesting solution to the mobile app hating Windows users. windows_81v2-590x327

Here are the some relevant changes you should take note in Windows 8.1:

1. The re-introduced Start button

Change seemed to be the central focus of Microsoft Windows 8 and as much as change is needed and inevitable in life, in technology, there is also the secondary debate of knowing what to change… and at which time. So when the native Windows Start button was gone, it was a startling surprise to many about the interface blunder and the question was whether it would be missed or not. Well, judging from the fact that the start button has been installed in Windows 8.1, should we guess it probably was?

In my opinion, it was a good thing that Microsoft reconsidered the start button. But better still, it came with a number of welcome additions which is centered around a more native “desktop-ish” experience of Windows 8. I am one of the many users who just found it rather annoying that Windows booted every time to the Metro interface while I just used the desktop mode. Anyways, you now have the option of booting to the desktop rather than the Windows 8 metro interface with the live tiles. Also, the start menu can send you to the Apps screen, which shows ALL of your installed desktop and Windows 8 apps, rather than that UI based start screen. Thumbs up for that!

2. Search everywhere

Well… what can I say? The search function in Windows has gotten broader. You can now search globally, or limit searches to files, system settings or media from the web. A global search combines your local search results with Bing results. Whether that is exciting or not only depends on you.

3. Live tile control

Remember how frustrating it was when you had a larger number of apps downloaded from Windows Store, and it ended up with you scrolling all over the place to find the app you were looking for on the metro interface? Windows 8.1 now offers a possible solution to organize your tiles by arranging them in groups. You can assign group names and re-size live tiles. I guess that makes life less stressful right?

4. Expanded Snap-in multitasking

The snap-in function of Windows 8 featured the ability to run two Windows Store apps simultaneously on the same screen by “snapping” one of them to the side to initiate a rather interesting split screen experience. You were allowed to only “snap-in” two apps, but Windows 8.1 allows 4 snap-ins. Keep it in mind though that snapping in 4 apps on the foreground drains battery life rather densely.

5. 10 now becomes 11

Sometimes, you cannot pull out the difference between a ten and eleven year old child (except for the age number) and with Internet Explorer, do not expect anything different. Although Internet Explorer 11 claims to have better stability ad faster browsing, it is most likely that it would still be the last browser you would ever open when you have sampled the likes of Firefox, Chrome and the others… or for some reason, you do not know any other browser but Internet Explorer.

6. Windows Store redesign

As if the slow paced, “developing” status of the Windows Store wasn’t an issue, it did not offer a good solution to prioritizing apps that mattered. It only featured an endless scroll of apps in small icons and some not very useful ratings and descriptions. Windows 8.1 has a redesigned Windows Store… but well… that’s pretty much just it apart from the little need for you to manually update apps to be sure you’re on the latest version.

7. Redesigned Settings App

The PC Settings facility in Windows 8.1 offers your system controls in a savvy, modern graphical interface. This matters to those who probably found the regular native Windows desktop Control Panel rather tiresome.

Windows 8.1 is pretty much nothing more than an update… not an upgrade. Microsoft hopes that Windows 8 won’t be around for long after Windows 8.1 comes out and that everyone using Windows 8 will upgrade, just as it hopes we’re all using automatic updates to keep our PCs up to date… lol!

A “smaller” Surface… for a “bigger” issue?

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Microsoft’s contribution to the personal computing market has, once again, risen our eyebrows… as well as a lot of other people… and maybe yours.

We are at a time when the personal computer industry faces a major setback. Sales figures for everyone has gone far lower than it used to be and thus, the ongoing battle for dominance for personal computer supremacy has become even more gruesome. It’s not so easy for consumers as well; there are so many different types of mobile phones, mobile computers, tablets and the very like out there each with their respective pros and cons. The general public does not have so much money to spend on any technology and make the wrong choice.

The tablet sector unlike before has a myriad of options on familiar mobile Operating Systems. Microsoft made its grand entry with its very own Surface RT which brought competitors alive to the new tablet oriented (and restricted) Windows 8 RT and the growing Microsoft App Store.  Following the Surface RT was the Surface Pro which was another bombshell Microsoft placed combining the native Windows 8 Professional with the appealing Surface design. And though these two entries from Microsoft come at pretty hefty price tags, sales figures indicate that people do not really mind having a tablet with Windows 8 on it.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Microsoft, looking to catch up to rivals in the tablet industry, could soon be putting out its own 7-inch tablet later this year stating that “making a small tablet wasn’t an original part of Microsoft’s strategy, but that the company is seeking to adapt to a changing market.” This is most likely as a response to the new 7 inch “mini tablet” wars currently spearheaded by Apple’s iPad mini, Google Nexus and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

It might take some time for computer manufacturers to come out of the very declined sales figures of the first quarter of this year. Possible questions to ask are: would a “mini-Surface” bring more positive changes that Microsoft (and pretty much every one else) needs? Would introducing a new tablet solve the already existing problem of declining sales?

All we can do is wait.

Samsung ATIV S- Windows version of Samsung Galaxy S3?

Samsung ATIV S is an aluminum beauty with a 1.5GHz processor which is powered by Microsoft’s new smartphone OS.

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With the emergence of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung has established itself as an industry leader in mobile hardware. With the exact price and release date still not clear, we have plenty reasons to be excited about the ATIV S. In fact, the ATIV S might be the best Windows Phone 8 we’ve seen yet.

Design

On sight, the ATIVE S looks like the Galaxy S3. With the same aluminum body, it’s just a little bit longer and thicker than the Galaxy S3.
The layout of the Samsung ATIV S’s controls is similar to that of the Galaxy S3,  but there’s a notable hardware addition which is the dedicated camera button. Below the display you get a physical windows button, a capacitive back and search buttons. You will also find the earpiece, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and a front-facing 1.9 megapixel camera for video-calls above the display. The volume levelers are located on the left side of the ATIV S and on the right side there’s only a power key and a dedicated camera key. The 3.5mm audio jack is at the top of the phone while the microUSB port sits alongside the primary microphone at the bottom and is used for both data connections and charging. The 8 megapixel camera lens is located at the back of the phone. It has the LED flash and loudspeaker on it sides.

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Screen

The Samsung ATIV S features  a 4.8-inch Super HD AMOLED screen of WVGA resolution (720 x 1280 pixels) and the pixel density clocks in at 306ppi. The screen comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass2 hence, durability is guaranteed.

Processor, Memory and Battery

The Samsung ATIV S resemblance to the  Galaxy S3 doesn’t just stop at the body deesign. While it might lack the type of processor packed into the Galaxy S3, the ATIV S has a Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor with a 1GB RAM clocked at 1.5GHz. The device also comes with a 16GB or 32GB internal storage options (expandable to 32GB via microSD). The ATIV S is packed with a removable 2300mAh battery. This 2300mAh cell is the largest battery we’ve seen yet on a Windows Phone 8 device. It is even a little bit bigger than the one on the Galaxy S3. We can be sure that the battery life of the ATIV S would be better than that of Galaxy S3 (which has a very very good battery life) due to the difference in their processor.

Camera

The Samsung ATIV S has an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash and can capture photos at a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. The video recording of the ATIV S is impressive at 1080p. The Frame rate is 30Fps, meaning captured video will be smooth. Once in picture-taking mode, you’ll see some software buttons for funtions like adjusting flash, taking video and switching to the 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera. The camera is one place where microsoft really wants Windows Phone 8 devices to distinguish themselves and the ATIV S has done very well in that aspect.

Connectivity

There’s obviously the usual bundles of radios as well, including 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, dual-band, WiFi Direct, DLNA, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, the Samsung ATIV S supports HSPA 850/900/1900/2100 networks along with EDGE 850/900/1800/1900. The Samsung ATIV S does not support FM radio.

Conclusion

With the announcement of the ATIV S, we can be sure the windows market is getting ready for some competition. The dual-core processor seems like a great idea. Though the chooice of processor might not make the ATIV S as fast as the Galaxy S3 or the LG Optimus G, Samsung has made a wise move. In favoring battery life and reliability (who wouldn’t want a smartphone with an excellent battery life?). The Windows Live Tiles are sort of like Android app icons cross breed with widgets and being able to get so many on one screen while looking so good. It really shows you how smart a Windows Phone 8 device can look. While the aluminum design of the device is very good, we still feel like it’s not up to design of the iPhone 5 but it’s still an improvement from the other Windows Phone 8 devices we’ve seen. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we get a full review and release date.

Many thanks to GSM arena for the pictures and the guys at Tech radar for making this article a success.