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

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  • thylboy - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    That was my interpretation, but I was hoping to be proven wrong since that makes the dpi setting just as useless as before for me as a one-monitor guy, and many others with me I suppose. Reply
  • skiboysteve - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    I think they improved the windows applications handling of DPI so they no longer look blurry (like explorer for example), and hopefully the renewed interest in DPI will force application makers to improve their scaling. Especially with the new Microsoft examples and documentation Reply
  • thylboy - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    So they fixed the windows apps but did nothing to improve how other apps are handled then... I hope you´re wrong on that one... Reply
  • inighthawki - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    And how exactly do you propose they make third party dpi-unaware apps magically scale better? Reply
  • thylboy - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    Tricking the apps that are DPI-unaware and render all bitmap items at a much higher res (pixel-doubling or such) and then scale it down using some clever techniques (anti-aliasing?) while rendering native windows components such as borders and fonts at native res directly. Something similar to what apple does in ios. Not magic but obviously apple does unfortunately do a much better job at the moment (in win7 at least) Reply
  • inighthawki - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    I fail to see how rendering bitmaps at a higher res then scaling them down helps at all. The problem is not about the images, it is about layout. Old desktops apps don't use any kind of layout machanisms, many of the controls are just placed in the window at "pos=x,y size=w,h" and windows has to conform to that. You cannot scale this in any direction or it breaks the app.

    Best case scenario might be that you take these apps and simply scale everything by currentDpi/96, but there's no guarantee that that's what the user actually wants. To some degree I may desire the system DPI to scale to 125% but I may value the realestate provided by the app more than having it scale to be the same. An example of this might be in visual studio where I would rather just have more room to display code than to scale the contents of the text by 125%.
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    Read the document. That is exactly what it does. DPI unaware apps are virtualized and scaled automatically Reply
  • aicom - Saturday, June 29, 2013 - link

    They also added a 200% scaling option similar to how OS X scales on the Retina MacBook Pros. 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
  • HexiumVII - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Tried it on my Yoga 13. Killed my Startisback, using a test version that still alpha. Really annoying as metro is just ridiculous to use for real work. IE11 seems broken, DPI scaling and text looks awful, FF and Chome are ok. Scrolling with the touchpad is choppy and terrible, touch is still good like IE10. FF and Chrome has really smooth touchpad scrolling bad choppy touch scrolling. IE10 was pretty good at both, excelling of coarse in touch, but IE11 is just broken now (both desktop and metro versions). Libraries are GONE! :O (Whether that's sarcastic or not depends if you ever used it). Now I see an annoying Bluetooth FTP in my drives menu in "This PC" (replacing My Computer). On Screen Keyboard still broken on my Yoga (more of a Yoga issue)

    Still missing are touch gestures like maybe a back swipe or at least give us a few programmable ones like touchpads give us. A back swipe would be awesome. Unification of personalization functions would help also, they are pretty hard to find when control panel is missing the "PC Settings" options (only found in metro and hard to get to).

    Overall i had higher hopes for 8.1, maybe final will be better. But overall i feel 8 has just too many bags of bugs over the incredibly solid 7. I'm already getting weird errors on a Haswell build for a friend, and was planning to move all my PCs to 8.1 as I had down my Sandy to upgrade to Haswell. I have 4 PCs with all 4 Gens of i7 and will have a long debate whether to put 7 or 8.1 on them.
    Reply

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