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Video: Microsoft’s Jensen Harris shows off Windows 8.1 on the Surface Pro

Windows 8.1

Jensen Harris is the Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience team. Basically he’s in charge of the look and feel of an operating system you’re quite intimate with. Microsoft has just posted a video on YouTube where Jensen details some highlights of what to expect when Windows 8.1 arrives. Video after the break.

At work and can't access YouTube? Here's a list of the major changes in Windows 8.1. Exciting times ahead! He doesn't discuss it, but you'll notice the Start button is back on the desktop.

  • Lockscreen is a cloud-powered photo frame. Brings pictures from your PC and phone through SkyDrive.
  • New tiles sizes: Large and small.
  • Improved all apps screen. Swipe up from the Start screen to get all apps.
  • All apps can be sorted by most used, by name, by date installed, or category.
  • Press and hold to pin to Start
  • Press and hold like Windows Phone to manage apps on your Start screen
  • New personalization that can quickly be accessed by from the Settings charm
  • New colors for background and accent colors.
  • New motion accents for the background. Hard to explain, by attention during the 1:53 mark.
  • Desktop backgrounds can now be used on Start.
  • New search feature powered by Bing that curates searches from both the web and PC.
  • Better multi-tasking
  • Up to four Windows 8 apps on one screen each with adjustable sizes for Snap mode

Holy bullet list Batman! Jensen gave a quick look at some of the major new Windows 8.1 changes that are coming. We’ll obviously be learning more over the coming month, but it’s nice to get a sneak preview of how the best operating system for tablets, laptops and desktops is getting even better. The update will come later this year (probably around the Holidays) and be a free for Windows 8 customers.

Source: YouTube

Thanks for the tip Edwin R!

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Reader comments

Video: Microsoft’s Jensen Harris shows off Windows 8.1 on the Surface Pro

173 Comments

Having four Windows 8 apps side-by-side in snap mode is going to be killer! Can your iPad do that? Nope. Should help quell those who say you can't be productive on Windows 8 without the desktop.

Samsung tablets don't let you "snap" to the side like Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT, but they do have a quick launch bar that allows you to open apps in an overlay or secondary window on top of the screen you're on, but it's not near as fluid in my opinion as the 'snap to the side' feature.

Wow 2 apps at a time and you can't even do it with every app. That is so productive. I'm guessing using your phone as a GPS and being able to look through your photoalbum come in handy all the time.

No... Not completely can... The apps running have to be approved by de OS to run. On my Galaxy S3 only some Google apps, System apps, Twitter and whattsapp...
In W8.1... All aplication can run, even up to 4....
Hmmmm... I think Microsoft its doing an excellent piece of OS here...

Windows 7 can do a hell of a lot more, then 4 apps, but at least the useless apps are only a limitation in RT not in Pro where you have a desktop for real multitasking like in win7. When I work I use 20+ open program windows, most of them word, adobe, and web windows, with ocasional photo or video program depending on the sources I use for my article.
The only semi useful apps I found are news apps, but they are also severaly limited (e.g. Microsoft news reader) as they can't even print the articles, which makes it really annoying to then have to open up an IE windows and search for the article on the source website just to print it to my pdf printer.
Also many apps have stupid bugs like the ABC News app which often crashes when viewing Videos and is damn slow at streaming the video.
 
 

You never use 20 windows at the same time. Do you have them behind each other? Congratulations, having an application invisible in the background works in Windows 8... and Android, and iOS, and all the rest. Do you have them overlapping schizophrenically in a way which makes you feel like you're being productive when it is actually taking focus away from what you should be doing? I hope not.
 
Oh, the die hard "productivity gurus".

i have many programs open as well, but I run them full screen and use multiple monitors if I want to go back and forth between programs. i find that most programs aren't very usable in windowed mode because too much info is cut off and you need to scroll not only up and down but also left and right. how many of those programs do you have open on a single monitor? for me multitasking just means i can set a program to run a task in the background. people can't really perform more than one task at any given time. they just switch back and forth between task. fast app switching maes having a bunch of apps open on a single screen pretty much pointless. 

Your "Windows 7" cannot run any of the NEW Apps, so technically it cannot.
 
 
People that think there is little value in Windows 8 are seriously underestimating the productivity and power of the new range of Windows 8 Apps. (Yes, I am talking about a traditional Notebook or Deaktop with only a Mouse and Keyboard.)
 
 
As a SERIOUS power user, I hardly EVER see the Desktop unless I am writing code or designing artwork. 
 
 
I like that I can glance at the Start Screen and see if I have new mail, messages, tweets, news reports, etc etc.  Heck, I can walk by my Windows 8 desktop and get more information from the Titles on the Start Screen than spending 3 or 4 minutes of opening/cycling Apps on Windows 7.
 
 
Windows 8 added more mouse interactions and keyboard functionality than any release since WIndows 95, and this is why I find it literally INSANE that people are still stuck with the mindset that only touch screen users gain from Windows 8.

i would defenetly buy win8 tablet, if i will need one, but for my pc windows 8 apps are pointless. i can play fruit ninja on my windows phone. i dont realy need any of those windows 8 apps. there's lots of software online for windows 7. i dont like the fact, that you have to use metro things in full screen. it would look strange on my 22 inch full hd monitor. i prefer "old" start and that's the ression why i dislike it. windows 8 is: metro, and normal. and i dont like that fact. i also know, that im not the only person on planet who dislikes metro on non-touch devices.
and btw: i tryed win8 via virtual machine, so i know what im talking about

@Nejcooo you should check out StarDock for Win8. It allows you to run Win8 apps just like you do with typical apps from the desktop. They are fully resizable and you can even minimize etc. Its a nice option, which is the direction I wish MS went. I get what they are going for, but one of the great things about Microsoft has always been options, and they missed that a little in W8. BUT they did leave it open enough for thing like stardock, which is good enough for me.

Exactly.
Windows 8 works best on touchscreens with 10.1" or less.
Most metro apps seem optimised for this sort of screen real estate.
As a power user who works on propietary, in-house designed software designed for use with a keyboard, my dual 22" screens at work have little use for the apps that take up at least a quarter of the total space.

Running three screens with Windows 7 at work, and I wish they were all touch-screens with Windows 8. After using my Surface Pro for awhile, I find myself automatically trying to use touch for interactions where that would be much faster than using the mouse. Even in desktop mode, having touch makes many tasks much more efficient, becaue I'm not wasting time hunting for and moving the mouse cursor to where I need it.

One does not simply do work stuff easier or faster on touch-screens.

The least that happens is that your arm gets tired after an hour working on 3 monitors. And no, I challenge you to click something faster than I do with a mouse.

You know what they say: Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone has one and they all are different. I happen to like the look and feel of the Windows 8 Start screen. It took me a while to get use to it and my monitor is not touch sensitive but it works great with my mouse.
Now, I look forward to more integral integration between the WP8 and Win 8 apps and capabilities.

Sorry guys, no disrespect meant by my comment. I was just trying to make a point about each of us having our own opinion of what we do and don't like. Sorry if I offended anyone.

And windows 8 has all the capabilities of windows 7 plus these new additions to the metro side.

I switched from iPad to Android to Windows 8 on Surface RT and I've been way more productive on it already so this is going to be amazing. Love having Windows 8 Networking Capabilities and Drivers in RT.
I'm waiting for new Haswell processors till I upgrade to a pro tablet. I do love the surface design and keyboard but the Pro has rubbish battery life and is bulky so hopefully Surface Pro 2 will fix these issues!
 

Agreed, although I can't imagine that four snapped apps are going to be particularly useful - each of them would be so narrow!  I love the idea of having Twitter snapped left, Messaging snapped right and my main app that I'm working with in the middle, though.

Yeah that sounds cool. Ive not snapped many apps in the current use. I think I might use side by side 50/50 snap though.

The 50/50 would only be useful if you could do a vertical 50/50 divide as well, with some apps I like to rather see a wider section of it then a narrower higher section.
 
or have 4 apps not side by side but in 4 square quadrants on the screen, 2x2, not 1x4 which is too narrow even on a big screen and makes it useless

Four might not be useful on a small display, like a tablet or sub 13 inch laptop. But for large monitors it could help make Windows 8 apps a little more legitimate. 

People 'thought' the slim single snapped Apps would be useless as well, but were wrong. The reason Microsoft is expanding this to more Apps is the fact the 'smaller' side Apps have become 'so popular'. Right now while using IE10, I have Netflix snapped to the side, and often have my mail or music as well.

When the Apps are still fully functional in the 'smaller' mode, there is no reason that having four open would impair productivity, especially if you are reading emails, taking notes in OneNote, tracking a Twitter feed and watching a video in Netflix.

I almost always have Skype snapped to speak with my girlfriend while im browsing IE or doing whatever. Its a great feature. I sometimes find myself wanting to snap another app so this new feature is gonna be great! When I first got my laptop I almost never used "metro" mode. Now I almost never go into desktop mode.

and what about those of us with multiple monitors? does TIFKAM now extend to other displays, so i can have 8 apps running side-by-side?

The beauty of multiple monitors in windows 8 is incredibly useful. I can get start screen on any screen I want. In windows 7 it was different.

Try explaining that to Rene Ritchie. Somehow, he feels that live tiles are disorienting and multiple apps at once is stressful!! And he speaks for all the mainstream customers. Fanboyish?? :P

Yes, I think this more versatile snap mode will add value to those 27" all-in-one PCs.  I imagine in the future they will explore ways to split a snap "zone' vertically.  Overall, this takes up a step closer to modern window management.

Does windows 8.1 support network (NAS) drives, so when i click on the photos/video/music app i can access my content from my network drive?

I just saw the video and it looks very promising. Lots of small changes that culminated to a better user experience. I like that Microsoft listening to customer instead of saying that you are using (holding) wrong..hahaha. Haswell + windows 8.1, my pocket is going to feel it too.

Rather than improving the CPUs manufacturers should focus on better power storage (i.e. battery) technology, which has stagnated for way too long.
 
 

+1 this.
I know we've moved from lead-acid to NiCd and now Li-ion/Li-Polymer, but there's still waaay too much to be done in the battery improvement area.

I personally believe the next "revolution" in mobile computing will be in the area of battery technology. Hydrogen fuel cells anyone?

yes did and guess i was wrong,, as a Dane it just is very wrong to have a surname as your firstname... :-)

As a Brit, i can say that both names are surnames and both are first names, :)

My first name can also be a surname, and the second half of my double barrelled surname can be a first name. :)

I work with clients all over the world and I always find it funny when they call me Morgan, or Mr Oliver (the wrong way round)... But I HATE it when the French, and the Italians call me Olivier! Lol

Great. Brain is still sleeping as its only 10 minutes to 5am here, in case the answer to my question should have been obvious.

Is it some breach of protocol and etiquette to say that I'm a little "wet" and turned on right now, after seeing this properly in action? :) Now, if Microsoft would apply the same principle and introduce many of these features (in an adapted form, where adaptation is needed, and where possible) to Windows Phone, that would be great! :)

WP is ahead of W8 in some areas. We've had swipe to list of all apps and various tile sizes for a while now.

Oh, I agree but there's room for improvements. Unified search, more start screen options (for example, I'd like to see some "separators" or tile grouping. The gap wouldn't have to be wide, just enough to accentuate the transition to the new group) and other things, and most notably, uniformity. Windows Phone 8 introduced bulk selection for photos and threads but the same option is still missing in other places. I know, these are minute things, there are more important issues to address. :)
And IF Windows Phone phablets ever appear imagine running two apps side by side... :)
Btw, it's been only a month since I got a Windows 8 tablet, and I absolutely love it. It didn't take me long to start pulling apps down on my Lumia in attempt to close them. :) That's the kind of uniformity I'm talking about. Sometimes I even swipe from the left on my phone, trying to see the list of running apps. :)

You make a very compelling point there, a bit more uniformity between W8 and WP8 would be very welcome, particularly in how apps and multi-tasking is managed.  Pulling down to kill an app, works so much better than the back button solution in WP8, or even swiping from the left to bring up the multi-task menu; pretty much exactly as it is in Windows 8.  These are things the way they are implemented in WP that I have always felt were more stop-gap in their execution, than final solution; a way for Microsoft to say, "We got the feature now, but a better solution will replace this down the road," sort of thing.  Well, the better solution is here, and it is in Windows 8.
 
Being able to group your WP8 live tiles is also a fantastic idea.  Who knows, maybe these things are in the works.  I'd certainly like to think so.

Honestly, I'd like to see WP8 die (a slow death...the technology to replace it isn't quite ready yet) and just get Win8 (or probably 9) right on my phone. Slap an Intel whatever-comes-after-Silvermont in there and I'll work in "metro" mode out of my pocket and dock to a USB 3.0 port expander at the office to use the desktop and "get real work done." RT can be phased out, as well, as long as MS can get real Windows out there at that same price point or lower.

I'm tired of having restrictions on my computing. I don't want a feature phone OS like Windows Phone or iOS on the iPhone, and the last surviving smartphone OS (Android) is made by a spyware company who's products I reject on a moral basis.

MS has the tools to bring us a world-beating mixed desktop and pocket computing experience. I think the technology to make this feasible will be here by 2014, and complete consolidation should be a goal for MS.

I completely agree with unified search, I love the new search in Win 8.1. It's much better than the previous one. And I will love to see it in WP too

Definately liking this. This is what Windows 8 definately should have been. Now get that app store catering to business and professionals, and kick ink support up a notch (like include it in RT for instance) and we're talking killer tablet OS.

All in due time. I want it now just like most of us but we need patience. MS is working hard to make a great experience across multiple devices and I appreciate that. They have a great product on their hands. All they need to do is keep chugging along with refinements and all will be well.
The thing I keep hoping for is a unified marketplace between WP W8 and Xbox.

Agreed. I've found that if I spend 10-15 minutes with someone to explain what Windows 8 is about and walk them through the handful of differences, they end up loving it. I've done that with several friends and family members, most of whom do not have touch. Windows 8 works fantastically once you understand it. I really think the negativity would be much less if Microsoft had a decent tutorial that explained things.

Man! Having the desktop background as the Start screen background solves more problems than I thought! Now it feels like the Start screen is an extension of the desktop, instead of being a whole different area and UI.
Feels just like using Win Key + Tab to flip through open windows. No one felt Flip3D was jarring. They should have done this from the beginning.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Microsoft design language, but that huge tile size taking up the space of four medium tiles just feels out of place.

BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO USE THAT PARTICULAR SIZE!!!
JUST MAKE YOUR TILES ANY OTHER SIZE YOU DESIRE !!!
YOU GET IT? :) (sorry for the big and bold letters)
 
AO

No! Other people will use it and I'll have to be exposed to the ugliness and then other people will find it ugly because of it... Microsoft, please remove it.

It sets off my OCD but I'm not quite sure why

The truth is sometimes unkind. :)

I can imagine lots of more informative Apps that even a crazy person would decide to use the new larger Tile.

Neither is whining incessantly; or claiming others shouldn't have something because it will bother you; or ignoring the same comments saying you can make it any size you want.

And it is there for the larger desktop screens. I think it would look awesome on a 23" screen. But I do agree that it is impractical on a tablet size

Is it out of the realm of possibility that Microsoft could reorganize Windows Phone so that the apps menu can be accessed from swiping up from the bottom of the screen like in windows 8. Then swiping to the right can access more of the start screen. I think this consistency across Windows would be great.

Although in doing that, wouldnt it make WP8 consistent with iOs and Android? I hate the side swipe to see more of your pinned apps. Theres always that split second pause in the transition as the icons reload.

True. However, take into account though that the unique look and feel of Windows/Windows Phone 8 provides the opportunity for it to still be differentiated while being consistent across the platforms. The scolling is opposite on the the phone and PC software. I think it would be amazing for them to switch the behavior of Windows phone to match Windows 8. Swipe up and get all your apps. Swipe Left and scroll through your start screen.

Phones have vertical screens. PCs have horizontal ones. If you take that into account, actually WP and Windows are consistent right now. Rotate your phone into horizontal position, and you swipe "up" to access the apps, and swipe left and right to scroll the Start screen.
Maybe it would be best if they rotate the tiles on both the Start screen and the apps list to match the phone's orientation. Then you have the best of both worlds.

Rotating the tiles is a great idea for WP.  However, looking at my WP screen, I don't know how well it would work.  Scrolling left to right in portrait mode, like W8 does, would be good.  A change like that might not come until WP9.

What if they have that in mind for Windows Phone 8.1... i mean the possibilities are infinite. yeah i do like your idea. :)

The bit where he sets the start screen background to the desktop wallpaper - although seems like a simple thing it makes a big difference and looks like the start screen is part of the desktop with the smooth transistion. I think this will make Windows 8 more comfortable to the people who are currently moaning about it.

I also liked the interactive background that moved as you swiped. Its simple but pretty striking from a spectators point of view.

Exactly my thoughts. That was my biggest takeaway from this preview. Though I pretty much live in the Metro UI (on Surface RT), this seems like it will be a huge help to people just migrating to Windows 8 or those that primarily use the desktop.
Looks more like an app overlay than anything. I really hope people can realize this with the added start button. The new start button will basically be a link to a super powerful, customizable app drawer.

So many quality improvements, they should of been on Windows 8.0 still. Gets me excited about what *could* be on the next Windows Phone. 

Can someone tell me when I can get this on Surface RT? I know this month you can download the preview but can we have the preview on Surface RT too?

It seems that there's 4 eagle eyes now ;) Sorry, I didn't notice, I'll take care of it the next time :)

You think that's fresh air you're breathing now? I'm sorry I should have warned you. I farted.
But all sillyness aside, I know what you mean. 8.1 is gonna kick major arse. Believe you me ;)

I have W8 on my PC and I love it, because it's so much faster and efficient. But 95% of the time I use it on Desktop mode because I can't adapt myself to use Modern UI with a traditional mouth or trackpad. Now, I love the Modern UI but for touch! I have had an ATIV Smart PC when it launched but in to weeks I was already going to my third one because it was full of problems so I Just got rid of it. Now, I loved using the W8 Modern UI on it with touch, I just got rid of it because of Samsung's crappy hardware really. But I hope than in the future I'll be able to find a nice combination of hardware and software in a tablet. Apparently W8.1 has already solved to software part, not lets see the hardware.

If u want an AIO PC, I can highly recommend the Dell XPS One 27. Beautiful, amazing, fluid, fast. Love it, no regrets.

Techiedude

That's it. I WILL buy a Surface Pro once it comes out with Windows 8.1 and a Haswell-chipset. I will never ever even think about an iPad or the likes for one second more. I can get everything I want for my computing needs with such a unit.
 
AO

Our thoughts are One amigo. I originally planned to buy a Surface Pro (I now have an RT) but then I heard about Haswell. So now, when a Surface Pro comes out WITH Haswell, I'll buy it on day One. Period. No questions asked.

Does anybody know wht he meant whn he said we can try it out June 21st? Does 8.1 come out then or just a preview or something?

they need to put the start button and the bar in the metro part tho! otherwise, its perfect! (for touch)

That would serve no purpose though as the start button kicks you to the metro screen. Same for the task bar when you get the same info hovering your mouse in the upper left corner.

I can think of a ton of things that should change about Windows 8.  However, I think that it is still better than any other alternative.
 
Here are a couple simple requests.  I don't think that you need to waste space with the word Start on the start screen.  People know what the screen is when it comes up.  Replace it with something useful ... like a clock!  Seriously, I have heard this complaint a ton. 
 
Have the option to come back to the same spot in the start screen that you last accessed.  Large start screens are hard to manage or make it a pain to start from the beginning. 
 
Also, when I snap something to the right, why is the rest of the screen blank?  Put something there.  Very jarring to the user.

Glad this guy is part of the user experience. He just looks like an average guy off the street! Lol.

Kidding aside.. All of this looks unreal. Can't wait to see the little "Blue" changes for windows phone as well!

This is Freakinggg Awesome.. Microsoft is Really working hard to make it better... They have Done it!! :)

What do you mean "later this year"? Microsoft announced they would start the public roll-out of 8.1 on June 26th...

That's a release to developers, after the build show, so we can get our apps ready. It won't be the final release version. I'm sure a lot of punters might install it, but it could lead to them having to rebuild their machine at the end of the year if the full release doesn't upgrade from the build version.
 

Are you sure? That's not what Microsoft has been announcing worldwide...we'll see though. But it will suck big time if it isn't, because their official communications channels (either through Facebook, Twitter etc) have been saying that it will release on June 26th...

I like some of those new features. In fact I'm excited to see that new search feature in action!

So glad i updated from Windows 7 to Windows 8 both on desktop & laptop. Mind you both are non touch so,its mouse & key & i am happy with that,no problem. If we cannot adjust to such a minor thing then all i can say is we have become lazy. All you have to do is invest a little bit of time.

"Press and hold like windows Phone to manage apps on your Start screen"
Yes good, having that different has been annoying.

I know this sounds stupid but is the update of windows (8.1) or blue coming to windows phone?? I havent seen anything about it coming to windows phone..

yay! My wish came true that also double wide and double tiles will be supported for more apptiles other than the desktop. I wonder if this will also be available for developers at build 2013?

I made the suggestion to MS before Win8 released that they needed a minimum of three (not two) open metro apps available at the same time (twitter/rss/fbook feed on left, word/webpage/excel spreadsheet in middle, lync/skype on right). Looks like they got the hint (or enough people complained), thank you MS!

Techiedude