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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  • cjs150 - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Be fair it is a beta so a certain amount of bugginess is to be expected.

    I use w8 on my HTPC and sitting 8-10 ft from screen, I have warmed to the start screen. For an HTPC libraries are an excellent feature. But why MS made it so difficult to include folders stored on a NAS within a library is beyond me.

    For proper work desktops I would not go anywhere near w8. I do not use touch on my work desktop - heck I can barely reach my screen without incurring back ache, to go to touch screen would mean I needed longer arms
    Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    File Explorer > Right in left pane > Show Libraries.

    And i don't have have most of the issues you do. DPI scaling and IE11 work fine for me. The only problems with DPI scaling are crappy 3rd party sortware that don't support it (Chrome for example).

    Your touch input problems might be from not installing the latest Yoga drivers and just using the default basic ones that come with 8.1.

    BTW it's stupid to make serious judgements from a BETA.
    Reply
  • Ananke - Thursday, July 11, 2013 - link

    I have 5 PCs with W8Pro - it does have annoying bugs, and I do not like some aspects of the app GUI, but for home use works. I upgraded from W7Pro on all of the PCs. I would recommend W8 to you, because it handles networks, accounts and file transferring better than W7. Then it depends on price - if W8 is same money as W7 licenses - get it. If W7 is cheaper, get that one. W8 is definitely not worth any price premium.
    If you have to pay full license price aka $100ish for W8 - better go Ubuntu, Mint or Hackintosh for anything but designated gaming PC.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    So if I have a window running fullscreen on my desktop and I rotate the screen from landscape to portrait then back to landscape, will it now remain maximized or will the window be "clipped"? Reply
  • HardwareDufus - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Can we get rid of all of the gay tile colors? I have no use for bright yellow, purple, magenta, cyan squares on my desktop. Reply
  • powerarmour - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    So the Start Button is back... *slow clap*, and the new fonts and tiles look slightly less ugly, but it still looks like a Fisher Price toy unfortunately. Reply
  • thesavvymage - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    the start button isnt really "back". It is just a shortcut to the modern interface. It accomplishes the same thing that simply hitting start does already Reply
  • snajk138 - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    It is back, what isn't back is the start menu. Reply
  • inighthawki - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    So how does this make it not a start button? Reply
  • mscrivo - Friday, June 28, 2013 - link

    For anyone struggling with problem where your PC wouldn't wake up after the monitors went to standby mode using an AMD 7xxx card and Win 8, I'm super happy to report that it's completely fixed in the 8.1 preview using AMD's new 8.1 preview drivers. Reply

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