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Continuing the Windows 8 confusion with Windows 8.1

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Windows 8.1 is the long-awaited patch to Windows 8's rather rocky launch that some might say comes a little too late.

In a wordy blog post, Microsoft take us through the bonus additions to Windows 8.1, but mysteriously side step the more toxic criticisms that have led Microsoft to backpedal on some of the key concepts in Windows 8.

Personalisation

Windows 8: Wallpaper

Desktop (well, Start screen) backgrounds! Animated desktop backgrounds! The future* is here!

*not the future

Search

Windows 8: Search

Enhanced to provide results from many sources, with a focus on intelligent metadata display.

Tidy, great bit of UI work that heavily borrows from some core Windows Phone concepts, but "the modern command line"? Hmm.

Applications, Applications, Applications!

Windows 8: Snap

The 'snap' metaphor is extended further in Windows 8.1, allowing users to run applications side by side. This has been a sore point for many tech commentators, with some pointing out that in the modern world, isn't our second device (phone, tablet) the other 'snap' view?

If only there was some sort of way to use applications side by side in a flexible manner, almost like a collection of ...Windows.

SkyDrive

No matter what you think of SkyDrive's functionality set so far, Dropbox should be a bit worried by the assimilation of SkyDrive into more and more Microsoft products.

If Microsoft can make this an actively competitive cloud storage product with their desktop penetration, it could become an important integration point for many applications.

The Start Button

It's back! This famous button returns after Microsoft rather strangely removed it assuming that people had probably had enough of it by now. Unfortunately, user feedback revealed that it was still seen as the anchor for many Windows users.


For all its additions, Windows 8.1 still feels like a rebel without a cause. I'm still awaiting the blog post that explains why - for the moment, at least - Windows desktop needs to be the same as Windows tablet.

We're not quite in the ubiquitous touchscreen future. Desktop is still a very real and immediate UI problem to be solved. Show us some great desktop solutions, please.

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