We’re super excited to be approaching general availability (GA) of Windows 8 and Windows RT. With thousands of new apps in the Store, there are a lot to choose from and tens of thousands of developers have been very busy around the world creating new apps. Across Microsoft we’ve been busy since August adding new features and improving the apps that come with Windows and will be updating these apps before GA. We’ll introduce new features, improve performance, and increase reliability. This post is authored by Gabriel Aul on our program management team and details some of the updates you will see starting in the next day or so as the updates enter the Store.
--Steven


As we get close to the general availability (GA) of Windows 8, there are many things that the Windows team and other teams at Microsoft have been doing to get ready. Of course, the most important thing has been working with PC makers to help them ready the wave of amazing Windows 8 PCs that will soon be available. Some of these have been announced already and more announcements are to come. With Windows 8, we also introduced a new Store for Windows 8 apps, as well as a number of new apps that are included with Windows. We already have thousands of apps in the Windows Store, even before GA, and we’re working with developers from around the world to bring more in every day. The Windows Store represents an unprecedented opportunity for developers to reach hundreds of millions of customers, and we’re very pleased to see the exciting things that are showing up every day.

Of course, we are also taking advantage of the integrated way that we can deliver updates to apps through the Windows Store. Leading up to GA for Windows 8, we will be releasing updates for many of the apps that were included with the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 8 that was delivered to PC makers and to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in August. Naturally, these app updates will also be available to PC makers to include by default with their PCs shipping in the future, but for those of you who have already installed Windows 8 RTM, it is super easy to get the updates from the Store app. The Store tile will notify you when updates are available, and you can open it and click the updates link in the top right corner to see the list and install the ones you want.

The Bing app will be the first one out, available tomorrow, and more updates will roll out up until Oct 26th. You will be notified of Windows Store updates just as you have come to expect, with a count of available updates on the Store tile. You can easily choose to install the updates at a convenient time:

Start screen with Store tile showing 3 updates

Across the board, you’ll see performance and reliability improvements in the apps, but there are some great new capabilities as well. Here are some highlights of the changes you’ll see:

Skydrive app tile

SkyDrive

  • Search within SkyDrive
  • Rename and move folders and files
  • New first-run experience
  • Custom sort order

App tiles for Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging

Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging

  • Conversation view of your inbox
  • Complete IMAP account support
  • Accepting and declining invitations in email
  • Capturing and updating your account picture
  • Improved search
  • Search for a contact within the Messaging app

Photos app tile

Photos

  • Crop and rotate photos
  • New auto-curated collage slideshows
  • View photos and videos on network locations in your Pictures Library such as Windows Home Server, network shares, and HomeGroups
  • Move through photos in your Pictures Library even when you open them from the desktop

Maps app tile

Maps

  • Bird's eye view
  • 3,000+ indoor venue maps
  • Driving directions hints
  • Improved navigation and layout
  • Improved customization, including custom pushpins and roaming options
  • Integration with Bing and Travel apps

Bing app tile

Bing

  • Richer search results for local content and images
  • Bing rewards integration
  • Use zoom on your search results to see related queries
  • Use the file picker to select an image from Bing to use on your lock screen or in your other apps

Finance app tile

Finance

  • Additional news and magazine content
  • More market exchanges enabled
  • Finance videos

News app tile

News

  • Additional news content from partners such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
  • Enhanced article reader, including font customization, zoom, pagination, and more
  • Improved offline reading experience
  • News videos
  • Slideshows

Sports app tile

Sports

  • Additional news and magazine content
  • Sports videos
  • Slideshows
  • New soccer leagues, including MLS, J. League, and Brazilian League

Travel

Travel

  • Additional news and magazine content
  • Improved flight search and new flight progress indicator
  • Improved hotel listing page
  • Interactive 360-degree panoramas (gyroscope supported)

Weather

Weather

  • Improved default location usability
  • Hourly weather forecasts, up to 10 days
  • Day & evening high/low temperatures

Video

Video

  • Purchasing in local currencies
  • Closed captioning
  • Search by actor or director

Music

Music

  • Expanded music services
  • Rich "Now Playing" experience
  • Discover more music with SmartDJ

Games

Games

  • Exciting new games
  • In-game purchasing
  • Invites and turn notifications

We are excited to get these updated apps out to all of the people who have been using Windows 8 so far, and to have them ready for the Windows 8 launch for people buying new PCs or upgrading their existing PCs.

-- Gabriel Aul