Upgrade essentials for Windows 8.1
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Windows 8.1 Update

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Windows first update of its new operating system has arrived with the introduction of Windows 8.1.

What are some of the upgrade essentials and how do you get the update for your PC?

After a hesitant uptake of Windows 8 last year, calls have been made from critics to revert back to the traditional desktop system, but Windows are confident in their movement towards touchscreen and tablet computing.

Updates have been made in 8.1 to help ease the more staunch Microsoft users over to the new style of operating system. Initial signs seem positive, the operating system has incorporated some of the beloved features from previous versions, whilst still moving forward with the Windows 8 development.

What’s new with the Windows 8.1 update?

Here are some of the more important features you can expect to find:

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For those new to Windows 8, you might not notice a huge change. 8.1 has made little differences to try and aid the user and integrate the still large non touch-screen community into windows 8.

Start button The start button is back!… well sort of. The familiar windows key is back in the bottom left corner; it’s used primarily to switch between the desktop and the start screen. It doesn’t have the same pop up menu we’re used to but bringing this familiar Windows stalwart back will help us all adjust to the new system that little bit better.

Boot to desktopAnother big complaint about usability was the loss of the traditional desktop as the home screen. With the 8.1 update you can choose to either boot up to the familiar desktop or to the new start screen.

Start screen syncOnce you’ve set a Start screen on your laptop your files, start screen layout, apps and their settings will automatically syncs across all linked Windows 8.1 devices. Your phone will be the same as your pc, tablet etc… everything together in one big happy team. Note, you can opt out of the sync if you want a bit of individualization for each device.

SearchThe search function is much improved and now all-encompassing. Just start typing on the Start screen and Windows 8.1 will retrieve results from everywhere- Information from your PC will come first, then searches from elsewhere will follow- SkyDrive, Internet, Images, videos you name it!

Flexible window sizesWe all enjoyed the introduction of the snap to size windows on the old OS. Now 8.1 offers more ways to see multiple apps on screen at once. You can resize apps to any size you desire allowing screen space to be easily shared. Multiple tile sizes Choose between four sizes to arrange tiles on your Start screen with larger tiles sizes showing more information.

Multi-monitor improvements The multi monitor formatting has been improved. It’s now easier to dock a tablet to an external screen or set up your workspace with several monitors. The Windows Store apps work together in any arrangement across multiple monitors, allowing you to move between screens easily.

Updated Apps Built in apps like Mail, Calendar, People have all been updated and improved in 8.1 Pro. Mail now lets you manage work and personal accounts in one place. The People app allows you to sync contacts from Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms in one helpful stream. Apps will now automatically updateand information will be kept up to date with InstantGo devices.

Keyboard ImprovementsTyping gestures on the touch keyboard, text selection and spelling correction is now faster and much more precise. The new Windows 8.1 Pro PCs’ physical touchpad now supports more Windows gestures, making them more efficient to use.

SkyDrive integrationSkydrive is deeply rooted in windows 8.1. It’s the default location for storing documents and your files. The idea is for everything to be stored in the cloud (Skydrive) for easy access across all of your devices. Everything is shared, pick work up on one device right where you left it on another.

MiraCast support Windows 8.1 has built-in support for MiraCast enabled devices such as TVs and projectors. This allows wireless display from screen onto a remote monitor or projection system.

Personal hotspot As with mobile phone tethering, Windows 8.1 provides you the ability to use your device as a personal hotspot to share your mobile broadband connection with everyone else.

Tap to print Printing is the bane of office life. Windows 8.1 has tried to make the process simple. All you need to do is tag the printer name, tap to install, and print. (Your PC and Printer will both require NFC capabilities to use this feature) Windows 8.1 also supports WiFi direct printing.

Security  

Device Encryption Windows 8.1 devices work with BitLocker device encryption for additional security.

Improved fingerprint log in support –Windows 8.1 is optimized for fingerprint-based biometrics and includes a common fingerprint enrolment experience that works with a variety of readers, including touch and swipe.

Remote business data removal Corporations now have more control over corporate content.  Files and data can be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then be wiped when the relationship between the corporation and user has ended.  Corporations who allow employees to bring their own devices to work can erase their corporate data from devices that are lost or stolen, or when an employee leaves the company.

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A Few things to do before you update:

  • Backup your files. Although your apps and files are transferred over when you upgrade it’s a good idea to back them up just in case anything goes wrong.
  • Get the latest updates of programmes before you move to 8.1. It can help make the update process easier for the programs to adapt
  • Keep your computer powered. Don’t unplug anything or run on the battery. A loss of power when updating can harm the process and cause the update to not install correctly.
  • If possibly stay connected to the internet. It makes the process much quicker.

Free Update from the Windows store:

Go to the start screen and click (or tap) on the Store Tile

In the store, click on the Windows 8.1 update and download

The update will download in the background and check to see if you system is ready for the update. The timing of this can vary between 15 minutes to a few hours depending on the speed of your computer system

After the update is downloaded, your PC needs to restart. You can then chose your new setting after this restart process.

Then enjoy the new Windows 8.1.

Office 365

Look for the latest Microsoft Office 365 packages that suit your current office situation:

Small Business

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Home Premium

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University

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10 COMMENTS

  1. It is also advisable to update the drivers. I received no screen output after the first restart until the upgrade had finished. The Windows icon is more useful if you right click on it.

  2. It’s great to read a well written honest description of W8.1 without the usual MS hype and technobabble. Well done eBuyer.

  3. How important is it to back up – all files – before downloading/installing Windows 8.1

    Would I lose everything if I didnt back up?

    Thank You

  4. Backing up your files is a precaution if anything was to go wrong. The likelihood is that nothing will happen at all, you should be fine. However in the past with previous upgrades, software has been known to corrupt and files become lost. Ebuyer recommends backing everything up as you then have a safe copy of you computer. It can be time consuming, but loosing pictures, videos and even saved games/programs is a real possibility if for some reason the upgrade process is not 100% complete. Portable hard drives have made the backup process much easier nowadays meaning you can just set the files transferring and come back when its complete. Good luck.

  5. It is good practice to have an external drive permanently connected and use file history to backup to it. This is in addition to a system image backup and repair disk. I note that the latter is now held on a USB stick rather than a DVD. Hard drives can be corrupted at any time, not just during updates.

  6. I’ve seen no mention on any site that you can right-click the ‘Start’ logo to bring up a menu that has Control Panel, Task Manager, Run and other options on it.

  7. I like 8.1 now. I hated 8 on hte laptop (no touch) but with boot to desktop and installing “classic start menu”, it is much more like Windows 7 in look and feel. Set things like Chrome so that they are not running as an ‘app’ and it is just dandy. I’m finally happy with the OS as I don’t have to look at those tiles unless I really want to

  8. Is that because the articles refer to “bringing back the Windows logo” rather than still calling it the Start button?

  9. My laptop runs Windows 8, which I am quite happy with (despite the ugly “Metro” look – which actually doesn’t worry me too much as I always boot into the standard desktop) – so I thought I would upgrade to the new Windows 8.1 (free upgrade and 3.9 gig download). Oh Boy! What an unmitigated disaster! It looked okay when the laptop booted – BUT MOST of the specific Windows 8 apps NO LONGER WORKED – and worst of all, NONE of the browsers work. I tried Internet Explorer (in desperation as I am a Firefox user) – NO GO. I tried Firefox – NO GO. Opera – NO GO. Safari – NO GO. Oh and by the way – Win 8.1 DELETES the system restore and turns it off!!!
    So I was so glad I had a full system backup (thank you Macrium Reflect – if you haven’t got that program, then download it now – it’s free!) and I have gone back to the “standard” Windows 8 platform. My advice for what it’s worth – DON’T upgrade to Windows 8.1 until they have definitely ironed out the bugs. “If it ain’t broke…….”

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