Further to the announcement that the Windows 8.1 Public Preview will be available from the 26th June, our colleagues in the Windows team have put a great introductory video together that shows a small selection of the features that will be made available in the new release.
With new tile sizes that allow for a whole class schedule to be shown on a single tile, enhanced personalisation options and powerful new search and cloud integration, 8.1 is going to be exciting release for academic institutions across the sector.
To learn more about some of the new features, check out the video below.
I like the changes Microsoft is making to the user-interface; but for privacy reasons, I am very wary of the push toward "cloud" services, LIVE account based login, and cross-platform integrated search. I think the new tile-based Start screen is fantastic, and will be even better with the new tile sizes. (I always used to hate the old Start Menu, which got cluttered and unmanageable with lots of programs installed: it made me feel like I was doing keyhole surgery on my computer! The new start screen is much better and less frustrating when you get used to it.)
I would really appreciate easier ways to manage privacy and security in Windows 8: for example, it would like to have in the general "privacy" settings widget and in the windows setup (installation) utility, a set of controls that enables me to specify the level of privacy I want. If I ask for high privacy, for example, then I don't want SkyDrive integration to be pushed everywhere in Windows and Office, and I would favour traditional local Windows accounts rather than LIVE online accounts. For security, I would like a similar Security widget with controls so that if I specify high security rather than maximum convenience and compatibility, Windows automatically disables Java in the browser, and automatically adjusts a bread range of settings such as requiring certificate revocation lists etc.
I'd like to see more interaction between the Windows 8 Start/app system and the desktop. I'd like to see the two sides working better together. Particularly, I'd like to see Windows 8 working better with "SysInternals Desktops": there are currently problems with compatibility that might easily be mostly resolved! Desktop corner hotspots don't work in the additional Desktops (numbers 2,3,4); and when you press the Windows key, you automatically go back to Desktop 1 and then open the Windows 8 Start screen (which means, you can't use the start screen to open applications on Desktops 2, 3 or 4!) This is very frustrating. Can someone fix it? (There are other less serious problems, such as MS OneNote and Google Chrome that won't open windows on more than one desktop at once; but I can live with these problems if you can fix the general Windows/Desktops compatibility...)