Up until a couple of days ago, we all only new that Microsoft is working on the next release of Windows, codenamed Windows Blue. Over the last weekend, a pre-release of build of Windows Blue (build number 9364) leaked to the web, revealing new features and options so far included in the update.
A number of sources have already revealed that the final build of Windows Blue will officially be called as Windows 8.1 and would be available as a free upgrade for Windows 8 users. The official public preview build is expected to arrive in late June 2013.
Windows enthusiasts who can’t for the official preview build and want to know more about the new features and improvements in Windows Blue or Windows 8.1 can go through the below list of features and screenshots.
Following are some of the key new features and improvements in Windows Blue (Windows 8.1):
Resizable Start scree tiles: In Windows 8, you could choose between two different sizes for tiles on the Start screen. Microsoft has enhanced this feature and Windows Blue allows you choose from four different sizes for tiles on the Start screen, including an extra large size for the Desktop tile.
Slide to shutdown: In Windows 8, one of the annoying thing was the location of the shutdown option. But in Windows Blue, you can easily perform shutdown operation with a touch gesture or click. When on desktop, slide-down from the upper-right edge of the screen towards the bottom to see slide-to-shutdown option.
This feature isn’t fully functional in the leaked build (build 9364) but you can either double-click or create a shortcut to slidetoshutdown.exe file located in System32 folder to experience this feature.
New Modern Settings: The Modern Control Panel or PC Settings has been updated with a plethora of options, mostly imported from the legacy Control Panel. The PC Settings now includes settings for power, display, autoplay and more.
Internet Explorer 11: Windows Blue ships with the next version of Internet Explorer with Tab Sync feature. Even though, there is no additional information available on the features, you can expect better security and browsing performance.
Snap apps side-by-side: Just like the desktop programs, you can now snap two Modern apps side-by-side to work on two apps simultaneously. Windows Blue also allows you open up to four Modern apps on the same screen.
Automatic app updates: Windows 8 automatically checks for updates for installed apps but doesn’t automatically update apps to the newest version. Windows Blue or 8.1 comes with an option to automatically download and install app updates.
More built-in apps: Along with Calendar, Mail, People, and some other apps that are part of Windows 8, Windows Blue also ships with some additional native apps such as Calculator, Sound Recorder, Alarm Clock, and Movie Moments. The final build will likely include more new apps.
Vertical scrolling on Start screen: Windows 8 allows you perform only horizontal scrolling on the Start screen. But in Windows Blue, one can perform both horizontal as well as vertical scrolling on the Start screen. The vertical scrolling can be used to switch from the Start screen to view all installed apps.
SkyDrive integration: Windows Blue lets you view your SkyDrive storage use and also enables you backup your OS settings and app data to your SkyDrive automatically. Options are also present to save files to SkyDrive by default, automatically upload a copy of photos and videos to your SkyDrive account.
Modern File Manager: While there are plenty of free File Manager apps available in Windows Store, Windows 8.1 includes an official Modern File Manager. The Modern File Manager lets you perform all operations that you perform from File Explorer or Windows Explorer.