Microsoft previews update to Windows 8; the Start button returns

Microsoft is providing a first look at Windows 8.1, and among the new features in the update is the return of the Start button that was taken away in Windows 8.

The button, a fixture of prior Windows operating systems, will be located where it had been in the past -- at the bottom left of the screen when the operating system is used in desktop mode. When users click the button, they’ll be taken to the Start Screen, which features all of their applications.

Additionally, users will have more options for what they set as their Start Screen background. Users can select images with motion or select their desktop picture (a picture of their family, for example) as the background for the Start Screen. They’ll also be able to further customize the Start Screen by arranging their apps using more tile size options.


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Other improvements to the upcoming version of the Windows operating system include the ability to set the device lock screen as a photo slide show, improved built-in apps and a new search screen that will display results from the Web as well as local files.

Users will also have more options for multitasking. When users display two apps on their device screen at once, they’ll be able to resize the view of the apps in more ways. Currently, one app takes up about two-thirds of the screen while the second app is relegated to what’s left.

Heavy-duty users will also be happy to know that Microsoft plans to improve the settings in Windows 8.1 by putting all of the computer options on one page. Windows 8 settings are scattered throughout the device, with some options located in one settings application and the rest in the desktop settings menu.

Microsoft said it will keep blogging about upcoming features over the next few weeks. It plans to release a preview version of Windows 8.1 on June 26, timed to its developer conference, and roll out the update to Windows 8 to users later this year.


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