OR Microsoft is going against Android and Apple with a vastly updated Windows/Windows Phone 8.1 for $0 royalty fee on smartphones and tablets with screens under 9”, integrated Windows desktop experience, capability of creating Universal Windows apps accross the whole Windows family, an open-source cross-platform WinJS framework, the first true digital assistant for phones (Cortana), showing that for TVs, as well as planning for IoT devices.

Microsoft showcases latest updates to Windows, opportunities for developers April 02, 2014
Unveils converged developer platform, new software advances with Windows Phone 8.1, and Windows 8.1 Update and new licensing; Nokia announces new Lumia phones.

SAN FRANCISCO — April 2, 2014 — Wednesday at Build 2014, Microsoft Corp.’s developer conference, the company announced several advances to Windows including Windows Phone 8.1, the availability of Windows 8.1 Update, a converged developer platform, and a $0 royalty licensing program for OEM and ODM partners developing smartphones and tablets with screens under nine inches.

Microsoft detailed new developer opportunities on the Windows platform with a common platform across devices, a single toolset, a common infrastructure across the Windows and Windows Phone stores, and a clear commitment to interoperability. The announcements highlight Microsoft’s continued commitment to its partners and the developer community by maximizing opportunities across the broadest range of devices and services.

Also as a part of the conference, Nokia announced three new Lumia smartphones for Windows Phone 8.1, including the flagship Lumia 930, the affordable Lumia 635 and the first dual-SIM Lumia 630.

“The news today shines a light on continued Windows innovation in ways that benefit our customers, partners and developers alike. Our commitment is to make Windows more personal and accessible to individuals, and to ensure a vibrant ecosystem through closer collaboration with our industry partners,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, OS Group at Microsoft.

… <more is inserted in the below keynote report>

The essence of the Day 1 keynote:

Terry Myerson: Executive Vice President, Operating Systems group

Making your creativity come to life

Using public translation APIs to translate everything said here

Joe Belfiore (~ 1 hour): Corporate Vice President, Operating Systems group

Running PC, tablet and phone within the Operating Systems group

Windows Phone is the world’s most personal phone

2 additional partners: Micromax and Prestigio (working with Qualcomm and Longcheer)

Windows Phone 8.1: ==> Made more personal
- new Action Center
- new lock screen APIs
- option to choose a high density tile layout with custom background as well … even on a small screen

Microsoft Build 2014 8.1 Update Personalized Digital Assistant named CORTANA

Cortana Microsoft Build 2014 8.1 Update Personalized Digital Assistant named Cortana Microsoft VP Joe Belfiore unveils 2 new phones with hardware partners Micromax and Prestigio using Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone gets even more personal

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and introduced Cortana, the world’s first truly personal digital assistant with a persona inspired by a much-loved “Halo” character. Powered by Bing, Cortana gets to know you and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.

Other new features that make Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones even more personal include Action Center, which complements Live Tiles by showing new activities and notifications at a glance; and Senses, a suite of features that takes the work out of managing data use, storage space and battery life. Windows Phone 8.1 also makes it easier for IT professionals to manage devices and for professionals to connect to essential business apps and services with features such as simplified device enrollment, a built-in mobile device management client, S/MIME for encrypted mail and VPN support.

Windows Phone 8.1 will start rolling out to current Windows Phone 8 users over the coming months. It will also come pre-installed on new phones starting this month. Cortana will launch shortly in the U.S. as a beta, in the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, and in other countries in 2015. Registered developers can update their phones to Windows Phone 8.1 as part of the developer program later this month.

- working long for one a half year on (video): Cortana (launching as a Beta, in order to learn with linguistic & search things) – a digital assistance for Windows Phone; powered by Bing (knows the whole Internet); learns about you …; also replaces the search function for you …; can be extended via 3d party apps; giving Cortana a notebook in order to put the user in contact with Cortana; about the people matter most to you; about the places you use to frequent; has permission to read all e-mail on the phone in order to prompt pro-actively the owner on …; good with the calendar too; … example queries via voice …; works with typing as well; reminders; only Cortana can do: people reminders …; new version of Skype; starting apps for you via Cortana (like Hulu, even yommunicating with like for Facebook);
==> The first true digital assistant for phones

Consumers can choose for their device:

- VPN, S/MIME support, MDM capabilities, … many, many more hosted capabilities
==> The right choice for business

Apps from the Store: … store experience more engaged for you …, new version of Calendar … with other views

Improved basic performance: … WiFi Sense to connect to automatically when sensed … even securely share with friends automatically (no need to tell the WiFi password); … from ordinary phone call to a video call, even for RCS apps as well; Word Flow [Keyboard] typing … world’s fastest typing on the smartphone (the previous record was Samsung Galaxy …); focus on settings; IE11 with a bunch of new features

to consumers rolling out in next few months

on very new phones late April

Windows 8.1

boot straight to the desktop

going automatically to enterprise mode

mouse and keyboard experience of Windows, e.g. enhanced taskbar to work with Windows Store apps: no different swithching mode for Modern apps and desktop apps; PC settings tile on Start Screen; right click context menu …; power user … on Start Screen; pre-pinning the Store to the taskbar to make it mouse and kleyboard friendly; new apps pin to the Start Screen or the taskbar …

starting April 8

Windows 8.1 Update: easier to use, runs great on more devices

Continuing its commitment to deliver improvements through regular updates, Microsoft also announced Windows 8.1 Update, which includes improvements that provide more of what people love about Windows across more devices: quicker access to what’s important, a more familiar and consistent experience across touch and non-touch devices, and more ways to discover great apps.

Key features of the update include user interface improvements for mouse and keyboard users, the ability to access the taskbar from any screen and pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar alongside desktop apps and favorite websites, and performance and compatibility enhancements to Internet Explorer 11. These improvements provide faster, more direct access to the things customers care most about, so activities such as powering down, searching the Web and switching between apps are easier than ever. Navigating with the mouse and keyboard will feel more familiar and intuitive because there’s more consistency with where controls are and how they work. Specific to the enterprise, Windows 8.1 Update offers improved Internet Explorer 8 compatibility on Internet Explorer 11, extends mobile device management functionality, and eases deployment with increased predictability for new operating systems and line-of-business apps by leveraging familiar management tools.

Current Windows 8.1 customers will receive the Windows 8.1 Update for free through Windows Update, while Windows 8 customers will receive the update free through the Windows Store, beginning April 8, 2014.*

David Treadwell: Corporate Vice President, Operating Systems group

about things for developers

Universal Windows apps:
==> Windows Runtime comes to phones

Update for Visual Studio 2013 for universal Windows apps: demo

Streamline the Windows Store experience across …

Modern (touch-first) version of Office: demo … also showing the same binary working on the phone

hundreds of new features added for Windows Phone 8.1 based on developers’ and customers’ requests

Windows developer platform: easily build innovative apps, reach more people

Microsoft also announced enhancements in the way developers can build applications that target the full range of Windows devices using Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate. Among other new capabilities, with the introduction of universal projects, developers are able to create apps that can be easily optimized to take full advantage of Windows devices. Developers of all types can draw upon their existing skills to deliver shared experiences for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update. Universal projects allow developers to use approximately 90 percent of the same code, a single packaging system, and a common user interface to target apps for phones, tablets and PCs.

To improve the developer experience on Windows, Microsoft announced updates to Windows Store to improve app discoverability and monetization, as well as easier shopping for end users with improved search, more personal recommendations and better merchandising. In addition, later this week, Microsoft will release the next version of Windows App Studio, a Web-based tool for non-developers that enables the creation of universal Windows apps in a single project.

To help developers build innovative apps for Windows using a natural user interface, Microsoft detailed plans for Kinect for Windows v2, coming this summer, with a new sensor and SDK that will enable developers to create Windows Store apps, with the Kinect sensor, for the first time. The Kinect for Windows v2 sensor offers more precision, responsiveness and intuitive capabilities. Developers and partner companies, such as Reflexion Health and Freak’n Genius, are already doing great things through the Kinect for Windows v2 developer preview program.

DEMO of the above

Windows enabling cross-platform apps:

frameworks, libraries, tools and services for Universal Windows apps

- Web GL
- Cutting Edge video playback etc.

- announcing: making WinJS cross-platform
- open-source via GitHub


Terry Myerson:

Now about the TV … no better television than Xbox

going to enable Universal Windows apps running on Xbox


bringing Kinect to PC ==> Kinect 2.0 for Windows with greatly improved SDK, not just for games

non-gaming Kinect apps: video

Kinect: this is the future

Graphics: on Xbox One phenomenal ==> Xbox graphics platform to make available for everyone ==> bringing into DirectX 12 


Internet of Things (IoT):

Windows ported to ARM

Now Intel Quark (i.e. x86 for IoT)

Windows for IoT will be available for $0

Windows desktop:

Universal Windows apps to run in a window

New Start Menu: live tiles combined

just for start to improve the Windows desktop


Making Windows devices more affordable

Microsoft is evolving its Windows business model to enable partners to offer lower-cost devices in the highly competitive smartphone, tablet and PC categories. Microsoft will offer to hardware partners $0 Windows with services including a one-year subscription to Office 365.

With Windows 8.1 Update hardware partners can also more easily build lower-cost machines — such as devices with 1 GB of RAM and a 16GB hard disk drive — without sacrificing the experience customers expect. The combination of new efficiencies and innovations from Microsoft hardware partners means customers will be able to choose from a wider range of Windows devices, particularly budget-friendly notebooks and tablets.

Stephen Elop (still Nokia, but soon Microsoft):

Lumia 520 the best selling smartphone in the world: will have WP 8.1

WP 8.1 for all other existing Lumias

The next-generation of Lumia devices:
- Lumia 930: flagship for WP 8.1, with unprecendented images and video, Creative Studio app grealy updated, new/updated Living Images app, fantastic cinema video experiences (4 microphones included), all MS services well integrated, 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 SoC, from June starting in Europe, with more more than 100 operators
- Lumia 630: 4.5” ClearBlack display, 3G dual-SIM as well (different tiles for each SIM),  designed for hyper-social people, Cortana is also available, SensoreCore introduced for health and fitness apps … Lumia services (HERE maps, etc.), 1.5GHz Snapdragon 400 quadcore, from May starting in Asia, $159 single SIM
- Lumia 635: 4.5” ClearBlack display, 4G LTE, …, 1.5GHz Snapdragon 400 quadcore, from May starting in Asia

Two new SDKs:
- Imaging SDK 1.2
- new SensoreCore SDK to create motion based apps

Satya Nadella: CEO

developer roots of Microsoft

Q&A via the DPE collection made before the conference

Why build for Windows if one develops for Android? –> innovating in every dimension … you will see a progress in a rapid pace … pretty unique pieces, e.g. bring end-users, IT profs and devs together … create a developer opportunity accross the Windows family expanding … we are betting on this platform ourselves

Plans for easy development accross platforms? –> David Treadwell part … the only platform with APIs on every platform amd native, managed and the web … working w/ PhoneGap, Unity e.t.c. …

What MS is doing to compete against Apple and Google in the tablet space? –> tablets accross all prices ranges … innovate with Surface to make the most productive table … what is the role of a tablet in the device family … consistency of user experience

Approach to UX design now and in 5 years with Microsoft? –> we have fantastic people for UX … see inspiration for other platforms … Cortana … modern apps to mouse and … Bill Buxton about natural UI … the broadest range of input modes today

How to design for the cloud, and how MS is supporting that? –> Scott Guthrie tomorrow … data-tier built for scale-out and other consideration long taken into account, Service Bus etc. … lot of focus on tools, samples that truely take advantage of the cloud

Different APIs released for different products? –> Windows Universal apps is the first step in the direction of bring great consistency for developers … consistency of semantics for these APIs

What’s the plan with latency as we are moving and more apps to the cloud? –> build robustness … data center build-up throughout the world … great effort to enable apps to run in a true distributed way

How MS can better support start-ups? –> BizSpark program with 70K start-ups … seed fundings and accellerators throughout the world

The vision for Microsoft going forward? –> Drive in this world of mobile first, cloud first … interactions of differnt kinds getting digitized … create platforms .. build the best experiences

Plans to becoma a Master CEO? –> … 2514 … watch Scott Guthrie keynote tomorrow

Cortana (yes!) and Many, Many Other Great Features coming in Windows Phone 8.1 [by  Joe Belfiore on Windows Phone Blog, April 2, 2014]

Whew, what a day! What a week! I’ve just gotten off the stage at Build in front of 5,000 of our beloved developers talking about the future of the Windows platform. And now I’m here to tell YOU about the stuff we’ve been working on to delight all our Windows Phone users and fans!

During my time on stage, I went over what’s next for Windows PCs, tablets, and phones with two major updates: Windows Phone 8.1 and the Windows 8.1 Update. Both releases bring a lot of new features for consumers and businesses alike, built from the feedback we’ve heard from customers along the way. We’ve also continued to invest in our partners, enabling lots of great new phones, tablets, laptops and PCs for you to choose from in the months ahead.

Windows 8.1 Update: Focused on Mouse/Keyboard

For PCs and tablets, we’ve made improvements in Windows 8.1 that will noticeably improve the experience when you’re using a PC without a touch-screen. We’ve made commands easier to find with mouse/keyboard, we’ve made switching between apps—especially Windows Store apps—much easier with mouse/keyboard… and we’ve made it easier to find new apps to install.

To learn more about the update to Windows 8.1 for your PC and tablets, head on over to the Windows Experience Blog and read Brandon’s post. What I really want to cover in detail here is…

Windows Phone 8.1: More Personal, Smarter, and even a “World Record Holder”!

If you’re a Windows Phone user, you already know that we set out to create an experience that puts you and the things you care about most front and center. As a result, we believe Windows Phone is the world’s most personal smartphone… and with Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve added a BUNCH of new features that make your smartphone even more a reflection of your personality and desires.

Want to experience it all in one giant demo? Then watch this marathon 15-minute video. Else… read on!

The world’s most personal smartphone just got more personal. Watch the innovations of Windows Phone 8.1 come alive.

Start screen: Make the Live Tiles Yours

We want your Windows Phone Start screen to genuinely reflect your personality and the people and things you care about—so we are making it even more customizable!


In 2013, we added a third column on devices for 5-inch screen or larger devices, like the Lumia 1520, to enable more stuff to show up on the screen. People really liked this so we are enabling this on all screen sizes in Windows Phone 8.1. Pin away! We’ve also added the ability to customize your Start background with a favorite picture or one of the options we’ve provided, which will make many of the tiles on your Start screen become clear so you can see the background you selected as you scroll up and down.

Lock screen: Lots of new “themes” to choose from!

The Lock screen is the very first thing you – or your friends—see when you grab your phone, and in Windows Phone 8.1 we’re providing a new app that lets you set a wide range of interesting “Lock Screen Themes” which show all kinds of different visuals and animations. Make it yours…

Cortana: Your PERSONAL Digital Assistant

Of everything we’re announcing today, I’m most excited to introduce you to the world’s first truly personal digital assistant, now on Windows Phone. We were inspired by the popular character from Halo who served as a brilliant AI and a deeply personal digital assistant to Master Chief… so we called her Cortana.

Powered by Bing, Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you. Cortana will launch shortly here in the U.S. first as a “beta,” and then will launch in the US, the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014 with other countries to follow afterwards into 2015.


In Windows Phone 8.1, you get to Cortana by either a Live Tile on your Start screen or by pressing the search button on your device. This will take you to Cortana Home. To interact with Cortana, you can either speak or type—if you’re in a meeting, just type and Cortana won’t talk out loud. But if you ask her a spoken question, she’ll answer verbally and even carry on a natural conversation.

When you interact with Cortana for the VERY first time, she will start learning things about you… like your name, how to pronounce it, and ask for some personal interests.

Once she’s learned a bit about you, Cortana’s home populates with information that is curated just for you. You’ll see things like flight information she’s found from your email confirmations, weather, the latest news, and even traffic information once she learns your commute routine, such as from work and home.

To develop Cortana, we talked to a number of real personal assistants. One technique these assistants spoke about was keeping track of the interests and preferences of their bosses in a notebook. We thought… what a great idea! So all the stuff Cortana curates for you is stored in Cortana’s Notebook. This information enables Cortana to be proactive and helpful throughout the day. For example, she’ll let me know if my upcoming flight back to Seattle is on time and, if I choose, will even pop-up to recommend what time I should leave for the airport based on traffic. Cortana can also manage your phone when you don’t want to be disturbed by setting quiet hours where she will silence any notifications, in-coming calls, and texts. Cortana understands the “inner circle” of people-closest-to-you, and she can let them break through at any time during quiet hours. And Cortana is the only digital assistant that lets you setup people reminders. You can have Cortana remind you that your buddy owes you $20 the next time you talk to him. And ALL of these interests and preferences are under YOUR CONTROL via Cortana’s notebook.

What’s more, because Cortana is powered by Bing, some of the interests in Cortana’s Notebook will light up on Bing.comwhen you sign in on the web. Bing.com will give you access to the things Cortana tracks for you, like your weather, stocks, news, and flights.

We’ve also designed Cortana to be able to interact with 3rd Party Appsinstalled on your phone. You can ask Cortana to help you make a video call in Skype, watch a TV show in Hulu Plus, look up a news feed on Facebook or send a tweet using the Twitter app – all of which we demoed during this morning’s keynote.

And finally, Cortana isn’t just a dry computer returning search results. Just as she has in the game Halo, Windows Phone’s Cortana has a bit of personality. But you’ll have to talk to her yourself to see what I mean by that. Or… I bet you’ll be able to find some videos on the web pretty soon to see what I mean.

We think you’re going to really love having Cortana as your personal assistant!

A Whole Slew of New Delighters

Action Center: Live Tiles are a great way to “glance and go,” and now we’ve added Action Center to enable you to see notifications from ANY app – pinned or not—and to give you a customizable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock.

Word Flow Keyboard: The keyboard in Windows Phone is smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of people in your contacts for faster typing. Best of all, our new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type INCREDIBLY quickly… a kid was able to BREAK THE OFFICIAL WORLD RECORD previously held by the Swype keyboard on a Samsung Galaxy S4 using Word Flow by 8 seconds!

Skype:The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 brings the best of Skype on a smartphone. It’s integrated with the Phone dialer, so if you’re on a call you can quickly and easily “upgrade” your ordinary phone call to a Skype video call at the tap of a button! And… the new Skype app is designed to work seamlessly with Cortana so you can use Cortana to setup your calls within Skype.

Calendar:The new Calendar has been redesigned to add a new week view which lots of people have been asking for and it has many nice touches—like panning right to get to the next day or week or month! What’s more, it looks a lot like Outlook on your Windows PC… e.g., the weather is integrated at the top – just like in Outlook.

Music, Video, Podcasts: We’ve made a ton of improvements to these experiences, which are now split out as separate apps and all of which can be updated via the Store. In Music, you can edit your playlists and manage your cloud collection really easily and effectively. Video makes it possible to buy or rent videos from Xbox Music, and Podcasts now lets you subscribe to any RSS feed AND provides a Bing-powered podcast search for every country where Windows Phone is available. Oh… and we’ve improved the phone volume control by including separate sliders for your ringer/notifications and for your apps and media. Just the way you asked for it!

People Hub, Email and Accounts: The People Hub has higher-fidelity feeds for your social network content (large photos!) and it connects directly to 3rd-party social networking apps so that you can have easy access to all the full functionality of the 3rd party apps once they are installed. Email now supports S/MIME secure email, and we’ve broadened our support for different account types, now including iCloud.

Photos & Camera: The Photos experience now jumps directly to your most recent photos and shows as collections automatically organized, in a view grouped by date and location. Online photo albums are now supported via app-extensibility, so 3rd parties can plug in their services. In the Camera, we’ve updated the UI and added “burst mode” photography that lets you capture exactly the perfect moment—just like on Windows 8.1.

Data Sense, Wi-Fi Sense, Storage Sense, and Battery Saver:We’ve added a number of features in Windows Phone 8.1 that are designed to help you get the most out of your data allowance, battery life and storage.


Data Sense lets you track how much data usage you use in a given month and will give you a breakdown of usage by app so you can see which app is using the most of your data. As you near your data limit, Data Sense will more aggressively offload data to Wi-Fi and limit cellular usage… and in 8.1 there’s a new “high savings” mode that cranks up the compression of images as you browse the web so you can browse even farther using less data than WP8.

Wi-Fi Sense will automatically connect you to free public hotspots it finds to help you save cellular data. And, if you’d like, you can opt-in to automatically and securely enable your friends and contacts to auto-connect to your home Wi-Fi, so they can use the internet connection at your house without hassling you for the password and typing it in manually. If you turn off Wi-Fi in Wi-Fi Sense, you can have Cortana automatically turn it back on when you reach one of your favorite places as identified in Cortana.

We’re introducing Storage Sense to help you get the most out of the memory and storage on your phone. It will help you manage content you have on an SD memory card if your device supports those. You can also move content – like apps, music, photos – between the storage built in to your device and an SD memory card.

And Battery Saver gives you a clear breakdown of how apps are using your battery so you can make more informed usage decisions. With “automatic mode” enabled, it can dramatically extend your battery life.

Windows and Windows Phone Together

Your Microsoft Accountallows Windows and Windows Phone to work together in amazing ways. Windows Phone 8.1 furthers the integration between phone and PC. If you change your theme color, that change will sync across all your Windows devices. If you buy an in-app purchase in some of the newer apps written for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, the purchase works on your phone AND your PC. And other settings like your home Wi-Fi password will also sync.

Ever wanted to project your phone screen onto a PC, TV set or projector? We’ve added support for that as well—connect your Windows Phone to a compatible PC using a USB cable and you can run an application on the PC to show the phone screen. Some of the forthcoming new phones will also support wireless Miracast display to compatible TVs and other devices.

And finally with Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone, you will be able to see all the open tabs you have on all your Windows devices and all your Favorites too. Plus the new Internet Explorer gives you InPrivate browsing, password caching, and a super-handy reading mode.

Great for Business Users and IT Managers

Windows has long been the choice for the enterprise and professionals. Windows Phone fits easily and seamlessly into a corporate ecosystem making it easier to work when you are on the go. Last year, PC Magazine’s readers selected Nokia Lumia/Windows Phones as the Business Choice Award for smartphonesby scoring them the highest in end-user satisfaction.

With Windows Phone 8.1, we’re making it even easier for IT professionals to manage devices and for professionals to connect to essential business apps and services with features such as customizable MDM enrollment, support for loads more MDM policies, LOB application & certificate management, S/MIME and VPN support. Stay tuned for a detailed blog post later today on the Windows for your Business Blog that covers all the key features for businesses.

Sounds Great! When Can I Get It? And on which phones?

Windows Phone 8.1 will start rolling out to existing Windows Phone 8 users and will come pre-installed on new phones, including the Lumia 630 and 635 and Lumia 930announced by Nokia today, in the coming months. If you want to try out Windows Phone 8.1 and you are a registered developer, you can update your phone as part of the Developer Preview Program in the first part of April.

We are very proud of the progress we are making with Windows Phone. Industry analyst IDC proclaimed Windows Phone the fastest growing smartphone platform in 2013, and we think the future is even brighter. At Mobile World Congress, we announced our commitment to growing the number of device partners making Windows Phones, and were proud to welcome nine new partners to the Windows Phone ecosystem. Today we announced two more partners – Prestigio in Europe and Micromax in India – to further ensure that individuals around the world will have access to the amazing experience that only Windows Phone delivers consistently across all price points.

We know we have lots more to do – for developers, for business customers, and for consumers. Today’s announcements at Build were all about taking the next steps – making it easier than ever to build great devices and write great apps for Windows, and enabling a new generation of cool experiences for customers that show the power of designing around people, delivering truly personal computing, and helping us all to get more out of the technology in our lives.

Tags: Windows phone, Build 2014, Word Flow Keyboard, Battery Saver, Start screen, Email, camera roll, Windows Phone 8.1, Xbox Video,Enterprise, Announcement, inprivate, Action Center, Photos, Windows 8.1, Business, Devices, VPN, Cortana, Platform, skype, Xbox Music,Lock Screen, Windows 8.1 Update, podcasts, People Hub, calendar, Microsoft Accounbt, Windows, Live Tiles, Internet Explorer 11, Nokia, Wi-Fi Sense, Data Sense, Storage Sense

Windows 8.1 Update – important refinements to the Windows experience [ by  Brandon LeBlanc on Windows Experience Blog, April 2, 2014]

As Joe mentioned here, today we’re announcing two important updates to the Windows platform: Windows Phone 8.1 andWindows 8.1 Update. With these updates, we continue to refine and improve Windows based on feedback from customers to deliver ongoing value to all their Windows devices. Joe’s post goes into detail on all the awesomeness that’s in Windows Phone 8.1(Cortana is rad – trust me!) but also gives some great context around our new engineering culture in the Operating Systems Group now that we’re in this mobile-first, cloud-first world. It also underscores how we are moving more quickly to improve the Windows experience for customers. In this post, I wanted to share a little bit more about the update for Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1.

With the current generation of Windows, we made a pretty big bet on touch and mobility. Along with building on top of the strong foundation in Windows 7, we also introduced a brand new approach to the Windows user experience that brought touch to the forefront. Since the original introduction of Window 8 in 2012, we have been continuously refining the experience, and we are making steady progress. More than 40 percent of Windows PCs at big box retailers, like Windows Stores Only at Best Buy, this past holiday season were touch-enabled – up from only 4 percent a year ago. As Joe recently said at Mobile World Congress, customer satisfaction for a device running Windows 8 with touch is actually higher than it was for a PC running Windows 7 without touch. We believe deeply in the notion that delivering a compelling personal and modern experience across all the devices that matter in your life should not mean sacrificing familiarity. Windows 8 and 8.1 were first steps, and we continue to make refinements based on customer and partner feedback.

Last fall, less than a year after we shipped Windows 8, we released Windows 8.1- bringing a large set of customer-driven improvements including the return of the Start button, tutorials, more personalization options, the ability to boot to desktop, improvements to multi-tasking, and more. Today marks the next step as we release a new update for your Windows experience.

The Windows 8.1 Update delivers a collection of refinements designed to give people a more familiar and convenient experience across touch, keyboard and mouse inputs. It also brings improvements for business customers, really accelerates opportunity for developers, and enables device makers to offer lower cost devices.

See what’s new with Windows 8.1 in the latest update, including easier mouse and keyboard functions, a new taskbar, and Bing’s improved Smart Search!

Easier access to your favorite apps and key controls:

On the Start screen, on select devices you will now find Power and Search buttons at the upper-right corner next to your account picture. You can now more quickly shut down your PC if you need to and do a search right from the Start screen.

If you like using the desktop, you will be happy to know that select devices will now boot to desktop as the default setting. And on your taskbar, you can now pin both desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store as well as your favorite websites. You can now pin any app you want to the taskbar so you can open or switch between apps right from the desktop. I’ve got some of my favorite apps like Xbox Music, Skype, Facebook, Flipboard, and Mint pinned to my taskbar. You can also access the taskbar from anywhere when you’re using a mouse; you can see the taskbar on any screen by moving your mouse to the bottom edge of your screen. Just click on any of the apps pinned to your taskbar to open or switch to them.

More familiar mouse and keyboard options:

We’ve made it so your mouse works more consistently anywhere in Windows. If you move your mouse to the top of the screen when using a Windows Store app, you will see the familiar Close and Minimize buttons. And as I mentioned above, when you move your mouse to the bottom of the screen in a Windows Store app, the taskbar comes up.

On the Start screen, if you right-click on an app tile, you will get a context menu next to the app tile that shows you what you can do with the tile, like unpin from Start, pin to the taskbar, change the tile size or even uninstall the app. Right-clicking on an app tile on the Start screen works just like right-clicking on something on the desktop.

Simpler way to find new apps:

After installing the update, you’ll find the Windows Store is now pinned to the taskbar by default so you can easily discover new apps (yes, you can unpin it if you don’t want it there).

And after installing new apps, you’ll notice a message at the lower-left corner of the Start screen that points you to the Apps view so you can see what you recently just installed.

Seamless browsing on all devices:

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