Coinciding with Microsoft’s BUILD 2013 conference this week, the public preview of Windows 8.1 has been released over at Microsoft’s Windows website.

Windows 8.1 (née Blue) is Windows 8’s first service pack, presenting Microsoft’s first chance to iterate on Windows 8 after the OS’s rocky launch. This goes for both the traditional desktop/mobile PC environment, and the tablet environment where yearly OS updates have come to be expected.

Consequently a number of the changes in Windows 8.1 are to the Metro/Modern layer, such as changes to tile management and window snapping, however there are some low level changes that techies will also be interested in. Among other things, Windows 8.1 will ship with support for Intel’s Connected Standby technology for Haswell, and a revised DPI scaling mechanism that is better suited for driving the high DPI displays that are coming down the pipeline for both Ultrabooks and desktops. We’ll have some updates on these features once we get a chance to tinker with Win8.1 in depth.

Windows 8.1 is being made available as both an update and an ISO. The update itself is being distributed through the Windows Store app – after downloading and installing the requisite platform patch from Microsoft’s website – and weighs in at a hefty 2.44GB for the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview. The ISO files have not been posted yet, but are expected to be available tomorrow.

Update

To go along with the release of the new OS, AMD has released a new Catalyst preview driver set. The new drivers bring support for WDDM 1.3 and its associated features to Trinity and GCN hardware, though the driver also covers last-generation VLIW5 hardware.

Update 2

Like AMD, NVIDIA has also released new drivers, version 326.01. However unlike AMD these drivers are only being distributed through Windows Update to machines running Windows 8.1.

Source: Microsoft

POST A COMMENT

52 Comments

View All Comments

  • B3an - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    "Windows 8.1 will ship with support for Intel’s Connected Standby technology for Haswell"

    Connected Standby is a Windows 8/RT feature, and Intel are simply supporting it. You make it sound like it's the other way around.

    I hope you guys have a detailed article on the new features. I already know most stuff so would be nice if you went in to detail because thats the stuff thats hard to find. Maybe also talk about the new DX 11.2 features and what they could mean? Also run some quick benchmarks too (i know it's just a preview but it's interesting), i hear battery life is slightly improved and RAM usage is further reduced (8 already reduced it over 7).
    Reply
  • Kirwan Computer - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    Just installed Windows 8.1 on my laptop (EFI BIOS) as it failed 5 or 6 times on my desktop (non-EFI).

    After the first boot I come to find that it broke the Windows Home Server 2011 Alert Viewer and Launchpad functionality. I'm very impressed!

    http://i.imgur.com/9aheCjq.jpg
    Reply
  • gamefreak85 - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Its a beta, what do you expect. :/ Reply
  • skiboysteve - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    Brian, where do you see that it includes new DPI scaling features? I don't see any Microsoft information about this Reply
  • aicom - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    There's a blurb written about it in the developer guide - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/apps/bg184...

    There's also a document about the high-DPI changes in Win 8.1 (linked from the previous page) - http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=307061

    FWIW, the 8.1 preview defaulted to 150% scaling on my 1920x1080 screen here. Everything looked fine except Chrome which figures since it had the same issue on the Retina MacBook Pros.
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    That second link is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    the main two applications I use already advertise to windows that they are dpi aware but they do a terrible job at it. Sounds like this will continue to be an issue. I wonder if there is a way to force them into virtualization
    Reply
  • thylboy - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Okay, I admit I didn´t read through all of the document but the only changes I see are a bunch of changes related to higher-dpi displays and multiple displays having different dpi:s, and how programmers can now easier adapt to those situations. I don´t see anything about getting existing apps (dpi-unaware) to look decent in high DPI settings, which for me has always been the big issue since once you turn up the dpi basically everything in desktop mode just looks awful. In what way does 8.1 improve in how it handles existing apps on single high-dpi displays? Those of you that have tried it does existing (not dpi-aware) apps look better in 8.1 than they did in win7 at high-dpi settings? Reply
  • JPForums - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    From p.5 of the document linked above:

    DPI-Unaware Applications
    DPI-unaware applications are applications thatalways render at 96 DPI, which is the lowest destop DPI plateau. This class of applications are unaware of different system DPIs. The Desktop Window Manager (DWM) virtualizes and scales these applications to account for high DPI.

    Perhaps this answers your question.
    Can anyone with the preview verify?
    Reply
  • thylboy - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Yeah, I hope that´s what it means but then I took a look at the table on p4 which lists what features have been available in different versions of windows from XP through 8.1 and there I found "DPI virtualization of DPI-unaware applications" and it´s listed as being there in Vista, 7 and 8 as well as 8.1 so nothing new. Also on p7 they say the scaling and virtualization of these was introduced in Vista and since I´ve seen how appaling Vista and 7 handles this I was hoping for something dramatically different in 8.1.

    I do hope you´re right but can anybody confirm that DPI-unaware apps in fact look good (or at least much better than in 7) at higher DPI settings in 8.1? This alone would indeed be a reason for me personally to switch to 8.1 from 7...
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    that document states that this happens in windows vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 So I don't think this has changed in 8.1. The only thing they appear to have changed is multi monitor independent DPI and automatic DPI selection. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now