Extensive updates to Windows 8 core experience apps detailed

Windows 8 has been pegged with the RTM title for some time but that does not mean it is really done. The code was simply ready to ship to PC makers and for developers to get busy creating apps.

The end user experience in Windows 8 has remained problematic, mainly due to the incomplete nature of the core app experiences when using the tile based WinRT interface. Whilst there have been a few minor updates nothing much has changed from when the OS was in its first public preview. All looks set to change as Microsoft just announced a slew of coming updates to the entire set of Microsoft WinRT apps.

Whilst there is much excitement for things such as Surface tablets and new PC form factors there has also been some worry about just how well Windows 8 will work in everyday use. With Windows 8, Microsoft has kept the core apps separate from the OS, they're just apps like everything else and can be updated through the Windows Store in the same way and as often as they like through that mechanism. Therefore, unlike Windows Phone, which currently requires a full OS update to change the People hub, mail and maps, Windows 8 should be able to keep up with new services and features as required.

What can we look forward to?

In short they have detailed lots of small but important functional updates are coming that will greatly improve how robust the out of box experience is on the new OS. Here are some that we think should be greatly welcomed. Mail is set to get IMAP support and a Conversations view, which many will be happy to see. SkyDrive will finally let you create a custom sort order and search, which should help those like myself who have over 100GB of files. The photos app picks up some basic editing abilities and the interesting inclusion of photos on network locations being made visible from Windows Home server, Standard network shares and HomeGroups.

Maps gets some nice additions such as the inclusion of indoor maps and the fantastic Birds Eye view. The Music app is set to receive expanded music services so we’re wondering if others will be able to plug into the built in Music experience, we’d love to see a unified place for other music buying and streaming services. In the case of the expanded Music services, we’d guess this is just the addition of the new music streaming services we now know about. Games get updated to include features such as in game purchases.


  • Search within SkyDrive
  • Rename and move folders and files
  • New first-run experience
  • Custom sort order


  • Crop and rotate photos
  • New auto-curated collage slideshows
  • View photos and videos on network locations in your Pictures Library such as Windows Home Server, network shares, and HomeGroups
  • Move through photos in your Pictures Library even when you open them from the desktop



  • Bird's eye view
  • 3,000+ indoor venue maps
  • Driving directions hints
  • Improved navigation and layout
  • Improved customization, including custom pushpins and roaming options
  • Integration with Bing and Travel apps



  • Richer search results for local content and images
  • Bing rewards integration
  • Use zoom on your search results to see related queries
  • Use the file picker to select an image from Bing to use on your lock screen or in your other apps


  • Additional news and magazine content
  • More market exchanges enabled
  • Finance videos



  • Additional news content from partners such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
  • Enhanced article reader, including font customization, zoom, pagination, and more
  • Improved offline reading experience
  • News videos
  • Slideshows



  • Additional news and magazine content
  • Sports videos
  • Slideshows
  • New soccer leagues, including MLS, J. League, and Brazilian League



  • Additional news and magazine content
  • Improved flight search and new flight progress indicator
  • Improved hotel listing page
  • Interactive 360-degree panoramas (gyroscope supported)



  • Improved default location usability
  • Hourly weather forecasts, up to 10 days
  • Day & evening high/low temperatures



  • Purchasing in local currencies
  • Closed captioning
  • Search by actor or director



  • Expanded music services
  • Rich "Now Playing" experience
  • Discover more music with SmartDJ



  • Exciting new games
  • In-game purchasing
  • Invites and turn notifications

What they don’t mention

These are very short bullet points on what appears to be the final push to get these core apps up to spec in time for the big day at the end of October when Windows 8 is released. We’d expect the look and feel of these apps to change fairly radically when they appear. As these are going to be delivered at the time of the full OS launch, we’re sure there will be more than a few extra surprises here. Of course, there is something they haven’t mentioned, the new software to enable Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 can sync.

As ever, we would like to hear from you. Any features here that excite? If you have been using Windows 8, what are your thoughts on those built in apps?.

Source: MSDN

Robert Brand