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Hands-on with Leaked Builds of Windows Blue 8.1

Hands-on with Leaked Builds of Windows Blue 8.1
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We go hands on with the Windows Blue leaks!

With several leaked builds for Windows Blue hitting the web in rapid succession, it seems as though Microsoft is as leaky as a sieve these days. A leak for build 9364 made its way to the internet last March, and two more leaked builds (9369 & 9374) have hit the Internet in the weeks since. Considering Windows 8 is just five months old, there are still a lot of questions as to whether Windows 8.1 or 'Windows Blue' is going to be a free Service Pack, a standalone OS release, or the first in a line of subscription OS models, but we can at least take a look at how the builds themselves run.

So, what's in this leaked build of Windows Blue, and is it worth all the buzz surrounding it? We'll take a quick hands-on look at some of the features and changes we've noticed and we'll also give you a quick a roundup of some of the buzz and reporting that's hitting the web.

First Impressions

So, here's how 8.1 looks, with a Start Screen and Desktop view that don't seem radically different from what we've got in Windows 8. But the similarities hide some very interesting tweaks to the interface designed to make things easier for users, regardless of whether you're using the traditional mouse and keyboard or a newfangled touch interface.

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Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    warezme , April 23, 2013 5:36 PM
    1) Boot Screen
    2) Boot Screen Choice A: Touch screen device, Choice B: Standard Device
    3) Boot Into desired desktop mode and remember thereafter unless you change setting to take effect on next reboot.
    4) The end

    Is it really that hard to figure out MS?
  • 17 Hide
    blackmagnum , April 23, 2013 2:34 AM
    Us customers want desktop simplicity. Return to your old-ways.
  • 11 Hide
    cmi86 , April 23, 2013 1:15 PM
    The biggest thing they need to do is return familiarity to the desktop. What that means is putting a damn start button on there. Win8 isnt bad and it's tile interface is actually pretty cool for a touch enabled device. However the lack of a start button complicates things for traditional desktop users and gives them almost zero incentive to make the switch from win7.
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    blackmagnum , April 23, 2013 2:34 AM
    Us customers want desktop simplicity. Return to your old-ways.
  • 11 Hide
    cmi86 , April 23, 2013 1:15 PM
    The biggest thing they need to do is return familiarity to the desktop. What that means is putting a damn start button on there. Win8 isnt bad and it's tile interface is actually pretty cool for a touch enabled device. However the lack of a start button complicates things for traditional desktop users and gives them almost zero incentive to make the switch from win7.
  • 0 Hide
    egmccann , April 23, 2013 2:36 PM
    Will definitely look into the preview. If they work on combining some of the control panel items, so we don't have what should basically be the same (at least "parent") panel split between what you see in metro and what you see on the desktop, it'll take care of one of my annoyances, at least.

    We'll see.
  • 18 Hide
    warezme , April 23, 2013 5:36 PM
    1) Boot Screen
    2) Boot Screen Choice A: Touch screen device, Choice B: Standard Device
    3) Boot Into desired desktop mode and remember thereafter unless you change setting to take effect on next reboot.
    4) The end

    Is it really that hard to figure out MS?
  • 5 Hide
    christop , April 25, 2013 11:31 AM
    Yeah includes an option if you have a touch screen or not. My desktop and laptop are not touch screen.. Fix this and I may upgrade to win8 till then I will not make the change..
  • 1 Hide
    christop , April 25, 2013 11:32 AM
    O and make it boot to desktop also. I hate the metro tiles..
  • 1 Hide
    dalethepcman , April 25, 2013 11:37 AM
    testing
  • 3 Hide
    Rahn , April 25, 2013 11:58 AM
    Still don't want to play with BLOCKS.
  • 7 Hide
    bobwya , April 25, 2013 12:34 PM
    Full disclosure I'm a closet Linux-geek (no trolls).
    But it's annoying that MS is pushing touchscreens on laptops... Which would you rather have a decent IPS panel or a rather useless touchscreen...
    The restricted boot crap is just "vendor lockin" by another name.
    Never mind the fact that Windows 8 looks like a "worst of both worlds" compromise between a mobile OS and a desktop OS!!
  • -2 Hide
    doggrell3000 , April 25, 2013 7:40 PM
    i do not want microsoft to replace the start button . just putting the explorer folder icon on the taskbar is much better than a start button . start buttons are a wasted extra step . the explorer folder icon is more flexible . also windows 8.1 should give users the option of booting directly to the desktop without first raising the opening screen picture ( why do they have that thing ? ) plus give users the option of doing away with the password screen ( i don't need to enter a password and if anyone wants to go into my computer and look around then she must be the most bored person on earth ) . finally give users the option of bypassing the metro screen which is the biggest waste of time in computer software history . so my request is this : you power up your windows 8.1 computer and within seconds your desktop appears with essential program buttons on the taskbar . this is what every single windows user really wants . if you decide to include the other preliminary boot screens and password screen and metro screen then simply make those options available to whoever wants them . this is the true way forward microsoft . are you listening ? i doubt it .

    doggrell3000
    new york ny
  • 1 Hide
    StitchExperiment626 , April 26, 2013 3:53 PM
    Microsoft doesn't care because people that don't buy Win 8 are buying Win 7.
  • 0 Hide
    farensabri , April 28, 2013 4:42 AM
    doggrell3000i do not want microsoft to replace the start button . just putting the explorer folder icon on the taskbar is much better than a start button . start buttons are a wasted extra step . the explorer folder icon is more flexible . also windows 8.1 should give users the option of booting directly to the desktop without first raising the opening screen picture ( why do they have that thing ? ) plus give users the option of doing away with the password screen ( i don't need to enter a password and if anyone wants to go into my computer and look around then she must be the most bored person on earth ) . finally give users the option of bypassing the metro screen which is the biggest waste of time in computer software history . so my request is this : you power up your windows 8.1 computer and within seconds your desktop appears with essential program buttons on the taskbar . this is what every single windows user really wants . if you decide to include the other preliminary boot screens and password screen and metro screen then simply make those options available to whoever wants them . this is the true way forward microsoft . are you listening ? i doubt it .doggrell3000new york ny


    you can actually have 'windows explorer menu' if you enable desktop shortcut on the taskbar.

    Right-click on the taskbar. Toolbars > Desktop (tick)
    Then you can re-arrange the position to the most left to replicate Start Menu.
  • 0 Hide
    john412smith , April 28, 2013 7:52 AM
    I forsee Stardock's Start8 becoming the most pirated software by the end of the year...
  • -2 Hide
    hetneo , April 28, 2013 7:59 AM
    Quote:
    "Files" shares SkyDrive's icon, and tapping it brings you to a view of your file system
    (emphasis is mine)
    Tapping?! Fo' real?! How do I tap it, with mouse or keyboard?
    Quote:
    t's nowhere near the level of the more mature desktop File Explorer yet

    And add to it no boot from ReFS drives, no Start menu, calculator getting now some functionality that was present in earlier editions...

    I don't think that one can think of worse things to say about Win8 than naming new features of Win8 Blue is. I can imagine MS engineers in their labs going around saying things like "I used to be IT expert like you, but then I took a tablet to the knee".
  • 2 Hide
    AndreT , April 28, 2013 8:41 AM
    I'm amazed that the UI in Linux Mint is more Windows like than Windows 8 is. I would never have considered Linux for my gaming PC in the past, but I've been playing around with it and it's awesome so far. All I have to say is that I wouldn't be looking at Linux if it wasn't for Microsoft's arrogance and shoving this crap UI down everyone's throat on desktops and laptops. I'm so put off my the Modern UI being forced on the desktop that I don't even want to see it on a tablet or phone at this point. Good going Microsoft.
  • 1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , April 28, 2013 9:21 AM
    how about giving people the damn option for a start menu and to boot to their desktop MS is that so hard to ask for?
  • -1 Hide
    Pherule , April 28, 2013 10:28 AM
    I don't care about the addition of a start button or "boot to desktop" mode. All I care about is that Windows 8.x stops downloading massive bandwidth when I've told it not to, and that it stops ****ing up my hard drives. So far I've had Windows 8 destroy two hard drives. I managed to recover most of my files via Linux live CD. Windows 8 does this thing where it forces a scan and "repair" on boot, and there's no real way to skip the repair process or disable it completely.
  • -1 Hide
    danwat1234 , April 28, 2013 11:11 AM
    Hmm, not FAT32 option in the 'format drive' application.

    I wonder if the Metro File Explorer will support file paths longer than 255 characters in lenght, and if the Windows Explorer will support it as well?
    I know the Windows 8 Explorer does not, so I have to use Total Commander to manipulate files in deeply nested folders. Come on, support 255+ character paths already.
  • 2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , April 28, 2013 11:34 AM
    hetneo(emphasis is mine)Tapping?! Fo' real?! How do I tap it, with mouse or keyboard?And add to it no boot from ReFS drives, no Start menu, calculator getting now some functionality that was present in earlier editions...I don't think that one can think of worse things to say about Win8 than naming new features of Win8 Blue is. I can imagine MS engineers in their labs going around saying things like "I used to be IT expert like you, but then I took a tablet to the knee".


    This makes me wonder if you have even used 8 at all. this is the Metro app calculator. The normal calculator still includes this functionality.

    The Start Menu is a bit over rated. I only used it in 7 to get to Control Panel or search for a file.

    ReFS is new and while it may have advantages, still needs to be tested before it goes out into the wild and people start complaining cause it has issues.
  • -4 Hide
    3ogdy , April 28, 2013 12:07 PM
    OK, Windows 8.1 looks SHITTY, just like that bullcrap, so-called "OS", Windows h8.
    No start button - NO I DO NOT WANT 3rd PARTY SOFTWARE FOR THAT.
    FUCKED UP INTERFACE DESIGN
    NO STYLE AT ALL!

    TRUST ME, we could all "design" that interface in Microsoft Paint right on Windows 98.
    This is a disaster, but Windows 7 will be here until 2020. Then, there will be a mass of people migrating to other operating systems. Microshit is a joke together with Steve Ballshit.
    Until we don't get a SERIOUS operating system, we're surely be reluctant to Paint-made so-called "Operating Systems". I don't give a shit about the tweaks under the hood.
    They say : " Windows 8 works perfectly fine."
    Well, I say: "Windows 7 works perfectly fine AND it all looks A TON BETTER".
    Who the hell would want to downgrade to Windows h8, then?

    I deal with a lot of computers and I ALWAYS recommend 7 over h8. I do my best to prevent people from having such dumb headaches with Windows h8.

    Serious people use serious operating systems, not Ballshit jokes.
    Once Microshit drops supports for Windows 7, we'll have to look for other operating systems.

    Maybe a touchscreen display would change the experience a bit, but the INTERFACE couldn't look any more AWFUL! AWFUL! AWFUL!

    (yes, I am (actually used to be, given how many shitty products they make now) a Microsoft fan)
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