Windows 8.1 Changes, Tips, and Sweepstakes

by Robyn Wright on October 22, 2013

in Tech

In case you missed it, the latest release of Windows 8 is now available – Windows 8.1  I wanted to share a bit about the update. A reminder that I am a part of the Windows Champions team and I do receive certain perks for this, but opinions are truly my own.

One of the best ways for me to describe Windows 8.1 is that it is like a smartphone sort of in appearance. You have apps (applications) that appear as icons on your screen – just like on your smartphone. Just tap or click on any of them to open them up. You can move the tiles around to customize your computer based on what you use the most or grouping types of apps or whatever method you opt for. This is the beginning of my main Start Screen. Right now you can enter a #MyStart Twitter Sweepstakes from Windows also by taking a screenshot of your Windows 8.1 start screen and sharing on Twitter including @Windows and #MyStart in the tweet.

Windows 8.1 #MyStart Screen

While 8.1 has some great improvements over 8, the basic feel is still the same. A few of the differences are…

  • Even Better Searching

    Frankly, I think Microsoft does an amazing job with search functions. I already loved it, but now they have integrated Bing into the search and so not only will you find files, photos, etc. on your own machine within a search, but also what is on the web. Not only is it all there, but it is visually very appealing as you move from left to right thru the results. Hover or touch the top right of the screen to bring the charms menu out and click the top icon for search. Here are just the first 2 areas on search results for “George Clooney”. You can see it found a file and an image I had on my machine, then a nice photo and quick bio, and then more photos, TV and movies, and much more. Very impressive!

    George Clooney search results in Windows 8.1 powered by Bing
    George Clooney search results in Windows 8.1 powered by Bing

  • Start Button

    For whatever reason people freaked out about not having a start button in Windows 8. I am not sure why, but many did. In 8.1 the start button is back. Instead of it bringing up the menu lists though it brings up your main screen with your tiles. I circled it in the screenshot below.

    windows 8.1 start button

  • Easier Organization and Lists

    It is more clear now in Windows 8.1 how to see all of your apps and how to customize them. While the previous version was very clean and streamlined, people could not always find the areas they needed to do this. On the main screen at the bottom left is a down arrow that will lead you to a full list of your apps.
    windows 8.1 down arrowwindows 8.1 all apps screenFor customizing, just right click on an empty area of your main screen and you will see a customize button appear in the lower right.
    windows 8.1 customize button

  • SkyDrive Multiple Options

    I love, love, love my SkyDrive. It is a cloud storage service from Microsoft, but really so much more. I use it multiple times every single day. Now with Windows 8.1 you can save your files just to your device or to the cloud for use on all your devices. There are some pros to having them saved only to your device in that you will save space in the cloud. While you get a lot of free space and can purchase more, if you are doing large photos, videos, etc. it can eat up space quickly.

    Windows 8.1 SkyDrive

One thing you will definitely want to set up is a Microsoft account. This connects all your devices, contacts, email, etc. together so you have continuity across all of your devices and wherever you are in the world on a connected PC.

Once you have upgraded to Windows 8.1 be sure to visit the Windows Store to update your apps and find lots of new apps, including an official Facebook app. I am constantly finding new apps to try out. There are lots of free apps, paid apps, and I love the ones that offer a free trial of an app to decide if it is right for you before you have to purchase it.

Another thing to consider is that the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets are here. I have an original Surface RT tablet already which I really like, but I am hoping to upgrade to a Surface Pro 2 soon to replace my laptop altogether. I know that iPads are really popular, and they are not a bad product, but if you use a Windows based computer the rest of the time then you really should consider a Windows based tablet like the Surface line.

As I have said before, I really am a big fan of Microsoft products and the Windows operating system. That is why I enjoy being a part of the Windows Champions team so much – because I am that person who really uses these things day in and day out and they really work for me.

Have you upgraded to Windows 8.1 yet? What do you think? Do you have any questions I can try and answer?

© 2013, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.


1 tannawings October 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Nope I havent went to win8 yet. My newest computer is a win7 and if it aint broke I dont fix it ;) I am unsure how I like the tiled look but I guess in time I will adapt when I do change over!

2 Robyn Wright October 23, 2013 at 7:09 pm

You know me, I HAVE to upgrade. It just is too painful for me not too LOL. The tiles are actually easy to get used to and make more sense than the lists.

3 Robin October 23, 2013 at 5:39 am

I need a tablet to replace my PC laptop that has Word & PPT functions.
It does not need tons of storage for photos or games or anything like that.
Is one of the new Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 tablets ideal for that?
Is one less expensive but still functional?

4 Robyn Wright October 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Surface 2 is the less expensive, but yes it can still do Word and PPT. Office 365 would let you have the full versions of those two products even.

5 Robin October 24, 2013 at 5:51 am

Great; thanks, Robyn!

6 alas3lads October 23, 2013 at 6:15 am

I’m still learning how to use my Windows 8 and I know there’s so many features I’m not utilizing. I really need to spend some time with some tutorials or something. For example, I have no idea how to use the SkyDrive. And, I was one of those who freaked out about the Start button, LOL!

7 Robyn Wright October 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm

LOL – there were a lot of you with that start button freak out. Here is a good place to start learning more about SkyDrive There are tutorials and tips there that will help you.

8 Mia Dentice Carey October 23, 2013 at 7:10 am

Mmm, probably not …I’m still trying to figure out Vista…lol
SkyDrive does seem interesting

9 Robyn Wright October 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Vista was one of my least favorite operating systems and it was not very user friendly. When you have the chance you should definitely upgrade.

10 Mia Dentice Carey October 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Thanks Robin…I’ll talk to hubby & look into it more =)

11 yonawilliams October 23, 2013 at 7:18 am

Windows 8 was a great change for me…it took a lot of getting used to, BUT the new changes really spoke to what I needed. I haven’t gotten around to appreciating the SkyDrive yet, but the Start and Apps organization features have made me very happy. I’m still learning the ropes and still get frustrated, but Windows 8 isn’t the nightmare that I expected.

12 Robyn Wright October 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Yay – so glad you are liking Windows 8! I shared in another comment, but here is great place to start learning more about SkyDrive If you need help with anything specific on 8 just yell and I will do my best to help :-)

13 yonawilliams October 23, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Thanks Robyn!

14 SheilaV October 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I haven’t even had my hands on Windows 8 yet, and now we have 8.1 ? Hard to decide which PC to buy as I am worried that it may not be compatible with the next new change. Seems every 6 months we are supposed to change again and this is maddening for us over 50 folks. Truthfully, I do not want all my devices connected as it is a privacy concern. Glad you did the article, so I at least know what 8.1 is.

15 Robyn Wright October 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Sheila yes, technology moves fast these days. Whenever you are ready to buy a new device you are better off getting one with the latest operating system and at least mid-level specs (ask the store/site for help if you need it). Windows 8.1 is not a new system from Windows 8, just a major free update to adjust some things that users have asked for. As far as connecting your devices/data you do not HAVE to do that at all, but there are some real benefits to it.

16 Ian June 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Ms Wright,

Would you be so kind to share the wallpaper in this screenshot?

Thank you for your time,

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