Microsoft Reveals Windows 8.1

Microsoft has launched Windows 8.1, kind of.

A preview was unveiled Wednesday. At a conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that the company pushed hard to get people to adopt a radical new tile-based "Modern" user interface in Windows 8. Microsoft is now back-pedaling, making it easier to reach and use the older "Desktop" interface. "Let's make it easier to start applications the way we're used to," Ballmer told the audience of software developers. "What we will show you today is a refined blend of our Desktop experience and our Modern experience."

In an effort to capture the growing demand for mobile-focused devices, Microsoft has updated its Windows 8 operating system with a slew of new features:

  • Search: Powered by Bing, the Search function will let users see results from across the PC, apps, and the web.

  • Personalization: Users can set their lock screen to display pictures, turning the computer into a picture frame.

  • Cloud Storage: SkyDrive -- a Microsoft cloud storage service -- will now be the default location for saving documents. With the SkyDrive app, users can further manage local and cloud back-up.

  • Internet Explorer 11: Built for touch, the new Internet Explorer includes faster load times and side-by-side browsing.

For now, the update released Wednesday is a "preview." Only those who choose to download and install the update will see the updates. When launched later this year to the public, Windows 81. will be free for current Windows 8 users.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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