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After many leaks and small public demos, Microsoft has officially blown the lid off Windows 8.1 by fully detailing it at the company's Build event in San Francisco, California. The updated operating system offers numerous tweaks and features, some of which include:
You will no longer have to boot to Metro! Yay!
• Boot to Desktop
No longer will you have to boot to Metro as Microsoft will officially allow you to boot to the desktop.
You can now disable Windows 8 Hot Corners
• Disabling Hot Corners
The need to maneuver your mouse into a pesky little corner has been an annoyance for desktop users since launch, especially for those with multi-monitor setups. Windows 8.1 will allow you to disable those pesky hot corners.
• Native Drivers
Windows 8.1 will include native drivers for 3D printers, fingerprint readers, and Miracast support.
• Four Metro Apps Simultaneously
When Windows 8 launched last year, users were limited to running just two Windows 8 applications at once that were forced into an awkward 80/20-split. Windows 8.1 will enable users to run up to four Windows 8 applications on a screen in a variety of display ratios.
• Dynamic Backgrounds with More Color Options
Microsoft has enabled more color and shade selections for the OS with the ability to mirror your desktop background on your Start screen. The company also took a page from Sony’s PSP and has enabled dynamic backgrounds that move and shift as you scroll around your Start screen.
Bing will be integrated into Windows 8.1's search feature
• Bing Search Integration
Search will now search not only the contents of your hard drive and cloud storage, but also use Bing to pull searches from the Web.
• Tiled Resources for Direct X 11.1
Microsoft has chosen to integrate Tiled Resources into their Windows 8.1 update. Tiled Resources is a feature of the Direct X 11.1 specification that ditches the traditional PC route of rendering scenes in their entirety to render scenes in divided sections called tiles. This means that your Direct X 11.1 GPU will be able to render scenes that are larger than its graphics memory.
• High Security
In addition to native drivers for fingerprint readers, Microsoft is including new features such as partial wipes for PCs, better VPN support, and network behavior monitoring via Windows Defender (Microsoft’s free anti-virus software).
In addition to polishing the OS, it seems that Microsoft paid attention to the needs of desktop users with Windows 8.1. You'll be able to download the free update this fall. Current Windows 8 and RT users can check it out now if you are feeling frisky, but be warned this is beta software, so you'll be running a BETA OS. You've been warned.