Microsoft on Thursday has announced the global availability of Windows 8.1, the first major, feature-rich update to the Windows 8 operating system. Consumers with a Windows 8 device in more than 230 markets and 37 languages can download the free update starting today, 17 October, via the online Windows Store. Windows 8.1 is also available on new devices as well as a retail box starting 18 October, at retail outlets globally. Microsoft Malaysia previewed the new update with members of the media today.
“With Windows 8, we introduced an era of highly mobile, touch-enabled, and always-connected computing,” said Sunny Ooi, Consumer Channel Group Director, Microsoft Malaysia. “Windows 8.1 evolves this vision and brings together everything people do across all their devices whether at home, at work or on the go. Windows is delivering the most personal computing experience out there, making your device a unique extension of you and offering more ways to create an experience that is personal, expressive and keeps pace with your life. It’s our wy of helping transform the way you live for the better — enjoying the experiences that are most valuable to you with a single, cohesive platform across multiple devices and screens.”
Ooi went on to announce that over 66% of its customer base in Malaysia are already on the Windows 8 platform.
Windows 8.1 brings increased customisation refinements, functional improvements and new features and will pave way for a new wave of new, innovative devices coming to the market for both consumers and businesses.
Some of the key enhancements to Windows include:
- “The Start Button”. The Start button as we know it is back. Maybe not as we’ve known it in entirety, but one’s that made for the future of things to come. With the Start button users can switch from the Modern UI to Desktop mode or vice versa. Tapping and holding the button or right-clicking on the mouse brings up a contextual ‘Start Menu’ of shortcuts to tasks and apps including, Task Manager, Control Panel and yes you guessed it “Run.”
- Highly customisable. The Start screen now enables users to resize tiles (from small, medium, large), naming categories, selecting multiple apps pinned to start for re-arrangement, features more background designs and colours. If you prefer the Desktop mode at startup, you can set this as default too.
- A Smarter search. The new Bing Smart Search makes it easy to find everything. When you search based on a keyword, Bing curates the information and lays them out in a consolidated, almost magazine-like view.
- New Apps from the Start. Microsoft says Windows 8.1 is the most complete out-of-the-box experience ever. Skype now comes pre-installed, including a better Mail app, XBox Video, Bing Food & Drink app, XBox Music and more.
- Explore better. Windows 8.1 also comes with the latest Internet Explorer 11, the fast, fluid and touch-optimised browser.
- Print. In 3D. The latest Windows update provides native support for 3D printing and has plug-and-play support for 3D printers and 3D file formats.
- Better multitasking and productivity. Windows 8.1 can now display up to four apps side-by-side with the flexibility of resizing windows for each app on screen. Multi-monitor support is also improved.
- Deeper integrated SkyDrive. With SkyDrive all your data is accessible to view, edit, save, create and share anywhere, anytime and across multiple devices.
- The redesigned Windows Store. The new design of the Windows Store improves how apps are showcased and improves how customers get the apps they want with new layouts and categories including personalised recommendation based on the Bing engine.
For more photos of the Windows 8.1 media preview, visit Flickr.
Pricing and Availability
Current Windows 8 users can get the Windows 8.1 as a free upgrade. Consumers who are not already on Windows 8 can obtain Windows 8.1 by downloading from the online Windows Store or from a retail store as a retail packaged DVD product. The estimated pricing for the download starts from RM376.00 (US$119.99) for Windows 8.1 and RM628 (US$199.99) for Windows 8.1 Pro. The retail package DVD products start from RM530 (US$169.00) for Windows 8.1 and RM907 (US$289.99) for Windows 8.1 Pro.