As expected the Windows 8.1 Preview is filled with bugs and things that need fixing, which is totally expected given it is still in reasonably early stages of its development. The consumer release preview is of course designed to expose bugs and get consumer feedback so Microsoft can tweak and tune for the final release version which will be more polished.
According to some digging around done by Softpedia the Windows 8.1 Preview is causing battery life problems on specific configurations. One user posting on the Microsoft forum talked of how the Windows 8.1 preview ruined his battery life and caused his Dell XPS 10 to produce lots more heat than it normally would do.
“I upgraded my Dell XPS 10 from 8 to 8.1 RT and I am having similar issues. Battery drains quickly and the tablet heats up a lot. I called dell support who are going to reimage my PC. I like the update to it is un workable if in present condition”
Microsoft is no doubt aware of such issues but this is definitely something worth considering if you haven’t downloaded the Windows 8.1 Preview yet, and were considering it for a battery-run device such as a tablet or notebook.
Microsoft’s Windows Store is slowly getting filled with fake apps as money grabbing internet criminals are trying to capitalise on the hive of activity that has occurred due to the free Windows 8.1 preview. This is drawing a lot of people into the Windows Store and it has resulted in many fake apps being listed.
In a statement to the Next Web Microsoft discussed the problem and said that it is already aware of the issue. They have stated that they will try to remove all fake apps as quickly as possible.
“We strive to make the Windows Store an excellent experience for Windows 8 users. We routinely review apps based on performance, ratings and user reviews and take steps to remove apps if they do not meet our certification guidelines…We are aware of the issue and are actively removing apps that offer little value or confuse customers, and will continue evaluating our submission process to make sure Windows offers the highest quality app catalog available.”
This is hardly a Windows Store specific problem as the Google Play Store and Apple app stores are often blighted with malware and fake apps, though the Apple app store has much more rigorous security. There are currently hundreds of apps posted by certain developers on the Windows Store, like BA MEDIA, and they are all what you might classify as fake. Microsoft will have a tough job tracking down all these fake and harmful apps but it is something it really needs to do.
According to the Windows Blog the RTM (release to manufacturing) version of the Windows 8.1 operating system will be released in early August giving OEMs and partners a chance to tweak and tune the Windows 8.1 operating system for their particular hardware configurations. This then gives them 1-2 months to “play around” with Windows 8.1 before it is officially unveiled in October when the formal launch is actually expected. Availability should actually come with the formal launch too if OEM partners do their bit.
OEMs will be given the usual disc image of Windows 8.1 which will essentially be the final version customers will receive. Company’s can then batch add their software, drivers and so on for each different product in their portfolio. They will also be given a huge roll of license key stickers for Windows 8.1. The RTM version is always quite early in the release process but has to be to give companies the time they need. That said end-users buying Windows 8.1 PCs should expect to be dumped with a tonne of updates as soon as they set the new PC up at home, 1-2 months worth of updates.
Remember Windows 8.1 is currently available on a free consumer preview so be sure to check it out here if you’re interested.
According to Softpedia and McAkins Online, the Windows 8.1 Preview drops the Windows Experience Index benchmarking software. Anyone using the Windows 8.1 Preview will probably have noticed this. It is interesting that Microsoft have decided to remove the Windows Experience Index as a lot of people use this as a system benchmark. The Windows Experience Index was introduced with Vista and it was used to determine key aspects of system performance such as hard disk speed, RAM performance, CPU performance, gaming performance and so on. The Windows Experience Index takes the lowest score out of all your tests to give you an overall system score, very often in most cases a mechanical hard drive would be the main limitation on system scores.
We have no information on whether this is a permanent change or a temporary one. Given the fact Windows 8 has it, and Windows 8.1 isn’t that different from Windows 8 structurally, there is no reason why Windows 8.1 shouldn’t have it. We expect to get confirmation about whether the final version of Windows 8.1 will have the Windows Experience Index when the Windows 8.1 RTM version is released later on this year. Maybe Microsoft has an alternative benchmarking tool up its sleeves?
If you’ve had a chance or the time to grab hold of a copy of the free Windows 8.1 Preview then you’re definitely going to need to get the latest Nvidia or AMD drivers to see the true performance of the new operating system.
Nvidia has been quick off the mark to release its Windows 8.1 Preview drivers in the form of GeForce 326.01 WHQL. These drivers support all GeForce graphics cards since the 6 series (that is the days of GeForce 6100/6200 and so on) and have been available since the first day of release for the Windows 8.1 Preview. Furthermore notebook GPUs are supported too. With support for the latest GTX 760 GPU the list is completely up to date.
Download your Nvidia Windows 8.1 Preview drivers here.
“NVIDIA has long been committed to working with Microsoft to ensure the best possible Windows experience for GeForce users. Our close working relationship with Microsoft allows us to provide WHQL-certified GeForce drivers via Windows Update on Day 1 for key milestones such as this Release Preview.
It’s a substantial effort that requires hundreds of man years of engineering time and thousands of hours of testing and certification, but it’s essential to ensure optimal performance and stability for the world’s largest gaming and productivity platform.” stated Nvidia.
With Microsoft releasing their Windows 8.1 Preview just a few days ago it is a great opportunity for all Windows users to test drive the latest operating system from Microsoft for free. Of course without the latest drivers you won’t really be able to do much in the way of 3D applications and gaming so both AMD and Nvidia have been working hard to get preview drivers ready.
AMD have announced that their Preview drivers are ready and you can get them here. They will support FirePro and Radeon series GPUs back as far as the HD 5000(M) series and the FirePro M3900 Series. These drivers feature all the support you’ll need for the Windows 8.1 Preview.
Support for new Windows 8.1 features, including:
Wireless Display – Microsoft’s support for Wireless Display Technology
48 Hz Dynamic Refresh rates for Video Playback
Aggressive V-sync interrupt optimization
Skype/Lync video conferencing acceleration
New DX11.1 feature – Tiled Resources
Support for AMD Features, including:
AMD Dual Graphics/AMD CrossFire Technology
AMD Catalyst Control Center/Vision Engine Control Center
Interestingly we can see support for the new “Tiled Resources” feature that was said to be a Direct X 11.2 exclusive, though we can see that it is apparently part of the Direct X 11.1 package meaning it might arrive on Windows 7, though today Windows 7 still doesn’t have “all” the features of Direct X 11.1 like Windows 8 does.
Right on schedule Microsoft have released their Windows 8.1 Preview. Straight away we will tell you that it can be downloaded here from the Microsoft website because most people are probably interested in checking this new OS update out from Microsoft. Given the Windows 8.1 Preview was announced at the Build Developers Conference it is not surprising that Microsoft very much focused on what’s new for developers and what they stand to gain from this new operating system. Microsoft stated that the key new features/updates of Windows 8.1 were:
Redesigned Windows Store. The Windows Store has been completely redesigned in Windows 8.1 to reach engaged customers and connect them more effectively and quickly to the apps they want. This includes increased merchandising opportunities for apps and better discoverability based on an individual’s preferences, as well as new search controls from Bing in the user interface. App listings have a new layout with refined navigation and more related content.
More monetization opportunities. Windows 8.1 delivers new opportunities for developers to build and monetize apps and engage users. Leblond introduced Windows Store gift cards, an easy way for consumers to purchase apps, books, games and content. Customers will be able to load their Microsoft Account with stored value in their local currency and make purchases online from the Windows Store. For developers in China, the Windows Store will support Alipay, meaning local developers will have new options to generate additional revenue.
Leading experiences. Windows 8.1 offers developers a canvas to present and develop compelling app designs. Windows 8.1 apps can work together to share data, share the screen and deliver richer customer experiences across a range of devices, including new 8-inch-and-below form factors.
Furthermore Microsoft were trying to sell the new key features and tools available to developers on the platform:
Bing as a platform. The new Bing platform builds upon the large investments Microsoft has made in the core technologies behind Bing.com to be embedded as intelligent services into Microsoft devices, Microsoft services and third-party apps that people use every day. In addition to providing the Search experience in Windows 8.1, Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Office, Bing Developer Services are now available that enable third-party developers to leverage Bing technology to create amazing experiences in their own services and Windows and Windows Phone applications. More information is available here.
Releases of Visual Studio 2013 Preview and .NET 4.5.1 Preview. Timed to the next wave of Windows, Visual Studio 2013 offers the ideal toolset for building rich modern applications that run on Windows 8.1. With a range of new features, Visual Studio 2013 makes it easier and faster for developers to create applications and services using modern lifecycle practices that span mobile devices and the cloud. Microsoft also announced a preview of .NET 4.5.1, enabling developers to build next-generation applications for devices and services while innovating their existing core business applications. Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1 previews are now available for download here. More on Visual Studio can be found here.
Windows Phone developer opportunity. Microsoft today announced that shipments of Windows Phone grew six times faster than the rest of the smartphone market over the past year. Sprint also announced plans to add Windows Phone 8 to its 4G LTE network this summer with the HTC 8XT and the Samsung ATIV S Neo. With the release of Windows Phone 8, customers are now downloading more than 200 million apps per month and generating more than twice the daily app revenue. To help give developers the best return on their investments, the next release of Windows Phone will be designed to run the same apps that developers are building today and support the same familiar tools and skills. For a limited time, developers can register with Windows Phone Dev Center for only $19.
While the first release of the Windows 8.1 Preview is very much developer and business orientated it is still worth a good look if you are considering an upgrade from your current OS. Once again the Windows 8.1 Preview can be downloaded hereso give it a try and let us know what you think. For a quick run-down on all the new features I recommend this article as it is definitely worth a read.
Yesterday Microsoft made Windows Server 2012 R2 available on its MSDN portal and it has been providing some early glimpses of new features in store for the upcoming Windows 8.1 Preview. We already know the Windows 8.1 Preview has a start button but we are also expecting new live tile size options and a dedicated setting to boot directly into the desktop skipping the start screen. With the start screen skipped and a start button reinstated many Windows 8 critics will have their points of contention “fixed”.
The screenshot above is for Windows Server 2012 R2 and features implemented on Windows Server have had a strong tradition of arriving on consumer platforms that follow, and the Windows 8.1 Preview follows Windows Server 2012 R2.
Furthermore, there are also dedicated settings to show Start on the main display when the Windows key is pressed, show the Apps view automatically when you launch Start, and to list desktop apps first in the Apps view when it’s sorted by category.
The Windows 8.1 preview is expected to be announced tomorrow and with it we are expecting a host of new features and a significant overhaul of some Windows 8 features. There have been some images made available by PCBeta and they detail the latest build, number 9431, of Windows 8.1.
Unlike previously seen builds these certainly look a lot more polished but one thing will stand out the most, which is the (re)appearance of the start button. The start button has been redesigned slightly, in terms of the logo, but it is still where we would expect to find it especially if you are coming from Windows 7.
The preview also provides access to the latest version of Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer 11, which is yet to be released and may now be released alongside the Windows 8.1 preview tomorrow.
Unfortunately you cannot download the Windows 8.1 preview just yet but we can expect it to become available in the next day or so and then everyone can check the new/redesigned features out for themselves.
The Windows 8.1 Preview is arriving on June 26th and will be unveiled at an event in San Francisco known as the Microsoft Build Developer Conference. This event will last from June 26th to June 28th and Microsoft are expected to unveil some interesting things there.
According to a leak by Winclub.Pl the system requirements of Windows 8.1 will be identical to Windows 8. Or as Microsoft likes to put it, Windows 8.1 “works great on the same hardware that powers Windows 8”. For the Windows 8.1 RT Preview it requires a Windows RT capable device with at least 10GB of storage space. The desktop version on the other hand needs the following:
CPU/Processor: 1 GHz or faster
RAM: 1 GB for the 32-bit version or 2 GB for the 64-bit version
HDD: 16 GB for the 32-bit version or 20 GB for the 64-bit version
Graphics: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
So as long as you can run Windows 8 then Windows 8.1 will be identical, which was kind-of to be expected although there were probably a lot of people who were hoping for a “lighter” running operating system that would be easier to run.
Stay tuned to eTeknix for more details about Windows 8.1 and other Microsoft products as we bring you all the coverage from the Microsoft Build Developer Conference next week.
With Microsoft’s BUILD developer conference in San Francisco just around the corner we can expect the public preview of Windows 8.1 to be released soon, on June 26th to be precise. Microsoft is hoping that Windows 8.1, it’s free upgrade OS for Windows 8 users that will also be available as a standalone, will revive interest in the Windows 8 operating system.
On the other hand analysts seem to think this just won’t happen. The huge market research firm IDC believes that Windows 8.1 won’t make much of a difference when it hits the market. They believe that if Microsoft really wants to make some more inroads with Windows 8.1 then it needs to start bringing prices down.
In an interview with ITProPortal IDC’s Ryan Reith was quoted as saying:
“Recent rumours have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market. However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft’s larger challenges centre around consumer messaging and lower cost competition”
Do you agree with IDC’s predictions? Will Windows 8.1 revive Windows 8 or will it make very little difference at all?