Microsoft has provided a first look at Windows 8.1, codenamed Windows Blue, a major revamp of its new operating system which includes highly-anticipated changes to the controversial Start button.
Personalisation is a big part of Windows 8.1, with the ability to turn the Lock screen into a slideshow of pictures from the device or SkyDrive. Users will also be able to take pictures straight from the Lock screen without needing to log in.
The Start screen is also getting some visual tweaks, with more colours and backgrounds available, including moving images. In fact, the Start screen background can now be the desktop background, allowing greater consistency across the system.
The Start screen is getting new large and small tile sizes for greater customisation, and it will now be easier to name and rearrange tiles. To avoid accidentally moving tiles, a problem experienced by many users, you will now have to press and hold to get the option to move.
Perhaps the most notable change is to the Start button, which has been changed to the familiar Windows logo, which will always be visible on the taskbar in desktop and will show up any time you bring the cursor to the lower left corner everywhere else.
Users will also be able to view all apps by swiping from the bottom, and Microsoft has added new filters to find apps by name, date installed, etc.
Windows 8.1 revamps the Search charm with global search results powered by Bing, which will show aggregated results from the web, apps, files and SkyDrive. Microsoft touts this as “the modern version of the command line.”
The built-in Windows 8 apps will be getting a feature-packed facelift, including a revamped SkyDrive app for easier file backup and sharing.
The updated PC settings takes away the need to go to the Control Panel to make changes, and there will be enhanced keyboard and mouse options available. Microsoft is also bundling Internet Explorer 11 with this build (whether you like it or not).
The changes, of which the above are but a few, will be available to try out on 26 June, coinciding with Microsoft's Build developer conference.