Picking out the differences between Windows XP and Windows 8.1 or even between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, improvements have been enormous and have remained unnoticed by a lot of people. So here's a glimpse of new features that are all in Windows 8.1. In sum, the following three unsorted (net even complete) lists of new features give an impressive insight into the innovation thrusts of the different versions starting with Windows Vista to Windows 8.1. Naturally, the list would be much longer - especially if we considered Windows Servers as well, which we won't in this article. Windows Server 2012 R2 on its own provides so many new features that an own list would even be more extensive than the ones provided herein.
It is definitely worth to have a look on the documentation since Windows is simply and even more unbeatable regarding security, manageability, automation, feature richness and customization.
User Account Control
User Interface Privilege Isolation
Session 0 Isolation
Network Access Protection
Windows Feedback Services
Windows Imaging Format (WIM)
Protected Mode IE
High Resolution/High DPI
Mandatory Integrity Control
IPv6 Dual Stack
Desktop Hardware Acceleration
Resource Exhaustion Diagnostics
Shell Property System
Peer Name Resolution Protocol
Crypto Next Generation
Windows Display Driver Model
Windows Service Hardening
Windows Desktop Manager
Windows Filtering Platform
Bitlocker and MBAM
Monad Scripting Shell
XAML and Segoe UI Font
Enhanced Group Policy Scenarios
Enhanced Reliability Monitor
Startup Repair Toolkit
Internet Explorer 7-9
Windows Resource Protection
IE Hardware Accelaration (IE 9)
Ad-hoc Meeting Networks
New Event Viewer
Java-Script native code Jit- Compilation (IE9)
Eventing and Intrumentation
Windows Installer 4.0/4.5
XML Paper Specification
Function Discovery API
.Net Framework 3.0
Hidden Per-User-COM (Elevated Processes)
New Open/Save Dialog
Process Dump in Taskmanager
Improved Compiler Defenses (GS, ASLR, DEP, SAFESEH, robust, etc.)
User Mode Driver Framework
Open Package Specification
UI Access Application
Windows Disk Diagnostic
TrustInfo - Application Manifest
New Direct Access
New Security Model
> 320 Shims
NTFS English language
Separation of OS and MUI
Automatic Compat. Mitigations (>5.500 Applications)
New Firewall (Profiles, etc.)
New Security Center
New Accessibility Features
Data Protection API
User Account Control Slider
Scenic Ribbon Control
BuiltIn Touch Platform
Process Cloning for Debugging
Display Driver Model (WDM 1.1)
Sensors and Locations
New, Richer Support Tools
Thumbnail Overlay Icons
Shell Rearchitecture – Search, Explorer, CMD-Shell
Network Location Awareness
Windows Installer 5
Network Connection Timeout Event
Internet Explorer 8-9
Bitlocker to go
People Near Me
.Net Framework 3.5
Aero Snap / Shaking
IE 9 Smart Screen and Tracking Protection
Event Viewer Tracing capabilities
Compatibility - Application Manifest (OS Switch Points)
RPC changes, Asynchronous I/O changes
Start Menu Search
New Search Engine
New Logo Certification
New Task Scheduler
CPU Multi Processing and Core Parking
Task Parallel Library (TPL)
New Windows Update - Less Reboots
Automatic Compat. Mitigations (>6.500 Applications)
Visibility of Firewall Port configuration in Resource Monitor
Boot Performance Improvements
Kernel Changes for Flexibility and Extensibility
New BITS service
Server RemoteFx Support
WERR - Third Party App Update
New MDT and WAIK
Security Compliance Manager
High Contrast Mode
User Account Control changes
Hyper-V on Client (almost the same as Server 2012 Hyper-V)
CHKDSK improvements with zero downtime (NTFS health)
Internet Explorer 10 with Enhanced Protected Mode
Virtual Network Switch
Powershell v3 In-Box, Powershell Intellisense, Powershell API Help- and Command Generator, New Powershell ISE
Virtual Fibre Channel
SMB 3.0 Attached Storage
Explorer VHD/ISO mount
Guest NUMA Direct
Direct Attached FC HBA
64 TB Dynamic Virtual Disk
64 Logical CPU
VM 10-finger Touch
Extensible Virtual Switch
New Performance Tools
Fast and Fluid UI
Low Power Busses
VM NIC VMQ
VM NIC Teaming
OS BuilIn Smart Screen Filter (Has blocked >1.5B malware and >150M phishing attacks)
New Explorer with Ribbon
Do Not Track (DNT) capability
SmartScreen Filter protects third-party browsers
IE10 ASLR Support for none-ASLR aware AddIns
New Task Manager
Powershell Web Interface
Windows to go
New MDT, WAIK, MDOP
Offline Domain Join
Remote Attestation Service
New Activation Model
New App Certification
Windows RT (Windows on ARM)
BuiltIn USB 3.0 Support
Direct Access improvements
BuiltIn Bluetooth 4.0 Support
Branch Cache Improvements
New Driver Model (WDM 1.2)
Storage Spaces – Thin/Thick Provisioning
Hunderte neuer Powershell CMDLets (z.B. 162 für Hyper-V)
New Windows Defender (Forefront Scan Engine)
New Firewall with Packet Filtering
Internet Explorer 10 64-Bit with 32-Bit Support
PS ISE integrated CMD List
.Net Framework 4.5 SP1
Improved, comprehensive Compiler Defenses (GS, ASLR, DEP, SAFESEH, SEHOP, Heap Spray, robust, etc.)
Async APIs (85% of WinRT APIs and included in .Net 4.5)
High Contrast Mode changes
Office 2013 RT (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote included in Windows RT edition)
Windows RT APIs and new Kernel Services
(e.g. Background Tasks, Suspended Apps)
Suspended Desktop Application (Windows RT)
Shared Kernel – Phone, Tablet, Notebook, PC
Offloaded File/Folder Operation (ODX Protocol)
New Application Model – Platform neutral (Intel/AMD/ARM)
Windows to go parse-through VM
Windows Store App Resource Protection
OPP Brokered API Isolation
App Contracts – Secure App Data exchange (Search, Share, FilePicker, PlayTo)
Office 2013 Student (Windows RT)
RICH Touch Support
10-finger Touch Support
Secure Device Access – App Capabilities
Process Isolation – Low Integrity App container
VM 3D graphic support
HTML 5 Support
Search throughout apps
New Windows 8 OS Switch Point via App Manifest
StartScreen Mouse- and Keyboard Support
Windows Refresh / Reset
Windows 7 Backup included but deprecated
Optical Disk Power Management
Windows Store App Forward Compatibility
Flat Desktop Design and Improvements
Windows Store (Link to certified Desktop Apps possible)
Device Encryption and Bitlocker
Windows Store Installer
Windows Intune Support
WACK, WADK, WSDK, WDK
New Compatibility Assistant
New Windows Update – Less Reboots
Startup Application Diagnostics
Enhanced Cloud Integration – Linked Microsoft Account
Surface RT Ports for HDMI, USB, Bluetooth 4.0, SDCard
Convertible Devices Support
Support for almost infinite number of Hardware Formfactors
> 385 Shims
Automatic Compat. Mitigations (>7.500 Applications)
PowerShell Web Service Interface
Huge number of different Device-Formfactors
Web Setup (ESD)
No Installation without NX (DEP)
Silent (automatic) Activation
UEFI CSM Boot (Class 2)
Automatic Startup Repair UI
Assessment Execution Engine
Data Deduplication API
App Packaging and Deployment
iSCSI Software Target API
Steps Recorder Changes
SMB Management API
User Access Logging
User State Management API
Web Socket Protocol Component API
Windows Connection Manager
Windows Storage Management API
IP Helper changes
Native Wifi changes
Network Management changes
UI Automation changes
Windows Sockets changes
Software Input Panel
Surface Pro with ultra thin digitizer
On-Touch Keyboard, New Magnifier, Narrator
Start Button replaced by link to new Start-Screen
Technical Start Menu
Windows Style UI – New Start Screen
Internet Explorer 11 with Enhanced Protected Mode ON by default
Internet Explorer 11 – automatic AddOn-Handling with Process Isolation
IE11 with better touch performance, faster page load times and several other new features
Remote Business Data Removal(Selective Wipe)
Internet Explorer 11 antimalware solution integration
Windows Store in-place upgrade (Click-Click-Done)
3D Printing Support (built-in
Biometrics Support (built-in)
Biometrics liveliness Detection
Biometrics modern reader support (swipe, touch)
Biometrics usage with UAC, Windows Store, Modern UI Apps and more
Common fingerprint enrollment
Open MDM for BYOD
Mobile Device Management
Web Application Proxy
RDS Enhancements - enhanced VDI
Wi-Fi Direct Printing
NFC Tap-to-pair Printing
Native Miracast Wireless Display
Pervasive Device Encryption
Malware Resistance – Defender with network behavior monitoring and ActiveX support
New Credential Theft Defenses (New local Groups, LSASS Protected Process, Account Policy Silos)
New local Groups for hardening capabilities
Hundreds of new Win32 APIs
New Windows Surface 2 RT with new Keyboards
New Windows Surface 2 Pro with new Keyboards
Boot Performance improvements
Network performance improvements
Remote-Apps with faster reconnects and improved compression and multiple monitors support
Apps can automatically trigger VPN connections
Embedded wireless radio
Windows To Go - Windows Store enabled by default
Touch to Buy with Biometrics
High DPI improvements
Dynamic DPI Changes
Per-Monitor DPI-Aware Applications
New GPOs (e.g. Start Screen)
New or improved Development Tools
New or improved Deployment and Management Tools
Text to Speak capabilities
In-app commerce support
Automatic App Updates
New Shims and Compatibility Modes
New Windows SwitchPoint for backward compatibility
Developers: New App Packaging
Developers: New scheduler API for Asynchronous Programming
Developers: Lots of new XAML controls
Developers: New Device APIs (USB, Bluetooth, 3D Printing, Biometrics, Point of Service “POS”, Human Interface “HID”)
Developers: New DirectX 11.2 support with hundreds of new features
Developers: Enhanced support for in-app file management
Developers: New ways to capture and process media (playback controls, native support for Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) for HTML5 playback.
Developers: Removal of GetVersionEx()
Developers: New HTTP APIs
Developers: New Networking APIs
Developers: Latest authentication techniques support
New Windows Store
Better Mouse and Keyboard Options
Modern UI App Kiosk Mode
Enhanced Device Sync capabilities
Picture Slide Show on Lock Screen
New On-Touch Keyboard
Explorer SkyDrive integration
Redesigned Photo, Camera apps and more
Cloud connectivity enhancements (SkyDrive, etc.)
Improved All Apps List
Start Screen configuration by GPO
Start Screen Corporate Identity configuration
Variable, Continuous Size of Snap Views
Backgrounds with motions
Two more Live Tile sizes
Improved Search (Web, Bing, SkyDrive, Documents, Apps, etc.)
More colors and backgrounds for Start Screen
High entropy ASLR (HEASLR)
Outlook on Windows 8.1 RT
Redesigned Mail App
New Local Security Groups for New Rights Assignments
Windows 8.1 RT - New 3rd Party VPN Clients
New Start Button
Boot to desktop
Modern UI Improvements – New Start Screen look and feel
By the way, Windows 8.1 now has a new Start Button which references to the new Start Screen. If you counted the number of required clicks or keystrokes to start a program in Windows 7, you will see you won't need more rather less clicks when using Windows 8.1. Despite, the Start Button is back most people don't miss it anymore as the Start Screen and the underlying application list became so beautiful, meaningful and useable.
Incidentally, the most important technical features are still accessible in the "Technical Start Menu" with a right mouse click on the new Start Button. This is a massive improvement for Virtual Machine users because on Windows 8 finding the bottom left corner in those machines was a little bit tricky some times.
Just looking at the touch ability of Windows 8.1 in the new Start Screen and in the new Windows Store applications is impressive and for this I'm likely adapting on a new operation system, which is in my opinion to learn easily within a few minutes. On Windows 8.1 a new user will see some useful hints (one time) while navigating through the Start Screen the first time.
In addition, the new type of handling opened an unprecedented comfort. Here a quote of a colleague, who appreciates the new Start Screen as much as I do:
"My personal highlight is the ability to interact in totally new ways compared to other operation systems.
I simply enter a term and Windows 8 lets me know all possible alternatives for it. So it shows you the results Windows 8 finds for the term in "Apps", "Files" and "Settings". What is even more interesting is that Windows 8 tries to process across apps. "Tie" for example is being looked for in Bing and eventually you might see what different types of ties and knots exist. Using an app might lead me to a shop where I find offers. Otherwise I can just search through an auction app for auctions. The "Share" function is just amazing: I may easily share the found ties with my wife and find out, whether she likes the tie as well."
Looking at how many powerful features inside Windows 8.1 are we can definitely call it an impressive operating system which hadn't been seen by the world before. It's the most feature rich client operating system so far (Windows Server 2012 R2 has much more than the client).
First of all, Windows itself benefits from these features and therefore reaches a new dimension concerning security, manageability, usability, performance and much more. Furthermore it is extremely energy saving so even with older hardware battery life has been raised a lot.
Also administrators profit by substantial increases Windows 8.1 had in terms of manageability, automation and security, which results in potential reduction of operating costs.
Additionally, software developer benefit from those features since many of them may directly be addressed or integrated in their own projects and thereby increasing the quality, safety and performance. Also, development costs can substantially be reduced.
Finally, all users profit from the new features – no matter if they use Windows 8.1 at home or at work. If the operating system and related apps are secure, reliable and fast, users are the ones to really make use of it. Not to mention that many features are of course available to the user – if he is aware of them.
There is one question remaining: "Who really knows Windows at all?"
It would be a pity if the entire discussion about Windows 8.1 would be reduced on a new type of user interface or usability.
Therefore, I to highlight my favorite Top-10 features in Windows 8.1 as a separate blog series.
Oliver Niehus, Microsoft.
thanks for this nice overview!
regarding the UI:
add the "Windows Classic theme" back to windows 8.1 and i'll immediately upgrade.
if not i'll have to stick with windows 7 for the next 10 years.
Not many know the direction of were Microsoft is going with the OS. The majority of the complainers there minds are shallow and only think of small things. I have read so many people complains and even on 8.1 and it is a great operating system completing windows 8.0. Sure it still need some tweak but over all it's the best OS in my opinion that Microsoft has built, considering the time and release. Windows 7 dose not even compare to it. Microsoft is making a cross over and they are aware it's going to be bumpy right but they're trying to make it a smooth transition as possible. I think they doing well but need move fast and quickly address any bug problem in the OS for business and customers.
Can you solve the problem of no HDMI sound when laptop is connected to TV? Only sound from computer speakers. Worked fine with Windows 8...gone with upgrade. Nothing I have seen suggested on various sites has worked.
diane; just exchinge HDMI ON THE TV I MEAN TRY OTHER ONE
Nope - didn't work. I changed to a different HDMI port no luck. Reversed the HDMI cable no luck. Odd it did work on daughter's TV on Thanksgiving - she has a different brand TV. Does that mean anything? I am stumped. I know this probably isn't the right place to ask the question, but no other site has any answers.
Sorry we couldn't complete the update to Windows 8.1.
We restored your previous version of Windows to this PC
0xC1900101 - 0x20017
I will stay on windows 7.
I erase the HDD wiht windows8.
This eror it was on clean inslall system with all updatets from microsoft and non other 3rd software or driver. It's very clear. the upgrade is sheet!
Diane B, Chris:
There are other channels at Microsoft in order get Support. Please note that Software always contains bugs and even Drivers which most are being vendor specific. We do our best to improve and fix.
Sorry for a direct answer: Are you afraid of changes? The world is changing and even the way People work with Computers. The classic theme is obsolete! Technically, the classic theme runs on the CPU rather than the GPU (graphic processor). For Performance reasons it is much better to use the GPU in order to render the Desktop. This applies to Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well. The new start Screen and modern UI Apps running on the GPU. So, classic theme isnno longer available.
If only you have come out with 8.1 containing the close X on apps and easy shutdown from Start menu. And Boot to desktop default enabled on PC.
Then it would not been such a failure/gotten such much hate.
The "modern" interface is sort of a joke on a 27" monitor and while I do not mind the new look so much anymore, I still find it dull and boring. To much white in white. Some captions are actually buttons. (lame). Its a shame as it boot really fast, very stable and did not deserve to be called vista 2.
olivnie: as follow-up to your reply:
no, i'm not "afraid of changes".
i fear you are missing the point.
this article's title reads "Who really knows Windows 8.1? Windows 8.1 is FAR more than simply a new and/or improved UI!".
i read it as "whenever people comment on windows 8.x they just talk (or complain) about the new UI. come on, guys. take a closer look. there is so much more in it.".
and i'm saying:
agreed. many technical improvements, indeed!
but to me the UI has not "improved" at all. instead, it's a massive drawback!
this is preventing me from upgrading to windows 8.x, unfortunately.
in other words:
- i don't agree to the summary "win 8.x is more than an improved UI. it is an improved OS, also."
- instead, my personal opinion is "win 8.x is an improved OS. at the same time the UI changes impose many drawbacks, unfortunately."
as an end user i don't care whether the UI is rendered in CPU or GPU.
all i'm concerned about is the efficiency from "user experience" perspective.
as a professional user (programmer) i'm interested in squeezing as much information onto the screen as possible.
just compare the icons in the system tray of win xp (with "classic theme") against win 8.1.
or the height of window titles, application menu, etc.
in win 8.1 i'm observing a massive "waste of pixels" all over the place.
hence my request to re-introduce the "windows classic theme".
once win 8.x allows to configure an "efficient" UI appearance i'll be happy to upgrade.
please put more focus on input from customers (user experience) rather than from software engineers (CPU vs. GPU).