LAPTOP Tests Windows 8.1 Preview Tested: Great Multitasking, Smarter Search

LAPTOP Mag’s Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch notes that alhough it’s more of an evolutionary upgrade to Windows 8 than a new OS version, Windows 8.1 provides a number of key features that dramatically improve the user experience, including enhanced multitasking, universal search, virtual keyboard improvements and a new-look Windows Store. Pilch says that after spending some quality time with preview build of Windows 8.1, he came away pleased with many of its new capabilities, particularly its new split-screen mode and gesture-enhanced typing. Other key features, such as the revamped PC Settings menu, still leave a lot of room for improvement.

Pilch says one of LAPTOP’s biggest complaints about Windows 8’s new Modern UI had been a weak multitasking function that allowed you to show only one main app and one docked app, with the latter taking up a third of the screen and not providing full functionality (but still better multitasking than you get with Apple’s iPad). However, with Windows 8.1, you can show two or more full-sized apps at a time in Modern UI, depending on your screen resolution and how many displays you have, and unlike in desktop mode, where you can split the screen up between as many windows as you want, even if they are all on top of each other, Windows 8.1’s Modern mode allows you to have one app open per 500 pixels of screen width. So, if you have a 1366 x 768 display, thats two apps at a time, but its three at a time if you have 1080p. However, since Windows 8.1 uses your effective resolution, not your actual one, if you’re on a tablet like the Surface Pro, youll only be able to put two windows on the screen at once, but despite that limmitation, this new feature is easily Pilch’s favorite improvement in Windows 8.1, because it makes the entire OS imminently better for multitasking.

As for the Start Button, it’s back, but it still doesn’t do what you might expect says Pilch. It takes you to the Start Screen, not the old-fashioned Start Menu, which appears to be gone for good, and when you’re in Modern UI, the Start button isnt visible, unless you hover over the lower left corner with your mouse.

For the full (and very thorough) review visit here:

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