Microsoft unveils Windows/WP updates, universal apps


As rumored, an update to Windows 8.1 (MSFT -0.5%), revealed at Microsoft's Build conference, provides a slew of UI changes aimed at keyboard/mouse users: Power and search buttons have been added to the Metro interface, right-clicking on Metro tiles brings up pop-up menus, and Metro apps can be added to the desktop-mode taskbar. But there's still no taskbar for Metro.

Windows Phone 8.1, meanwhile, brings with it Cortana, a personal assistant service meant to be Microsoft's response to Google Now/Siri. The OS update also includes an improved notification center (addresses a common user complaint) and support for custom lockscreens.

Hoping to narrow the big leads iOS and Android have in touch app developer support, Microsoft is also announcing an update for its popular Visual Studio platform that allows developers to create (with some minor tweaking) "universal" apps that can run on PCs, phones, tablets, and the Xbox One. Users will be able to download an app for one device through the Windows Store, and immediately have it be available for others.

A week after launching Office iPad apps, Microsoft is previewing its anticipated touch-friendly Windows Office apps. "We’ve still got some work to do before we ship these," says VP Kurt Koenigsbauer. (live blog)

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Comments (23)
  • maybenot
    , contributor
    Comments (6606) | Send Message
     
    MSFT is on the move. New CEO ain't sitting around and pondering.

     

    I like that.

     

    Long MSFT
    2 Apr 2014, 01:53 PM Reply Like
  • omarbradley
    , contributor
    Comments (966) | Send Message
     
    "Bill Gates. richest man in the world. again."
    2 Apr 2014, 04:05 PM Reply Like
  • David at Imperial Beach
    , contributor
    Comments (4382) | Send Message
     
    These software changes had to have been in development for some time. Nadella had nothing to do with them. He has ultimate say-so on when they get released, so if they flop due to major execution error its on his watch, but the designs weren't his.
    3 Apr 2014, 12:22 AM Reply Like
  • Moon Kil Woong
    , contributor
    Comments (13372) | Send Message
     
    As far as I can tell it's Microsoft adopting changes 5-10 years after the fact like always. Even so, it's impossible to do worse than decimate the PC business with Windows 8. Microsoft can only go up after Ballmer.
    3 Apr 2014, 02:37 AM Reply Like
  • Mattster
    , contributor
    Comments (165) | Send Message
     
    Whats pathetic is that it took this long to get anything for keyboard users, it is as if they don't even use their own interface and had to hear from people that actually use computers to do complicated work tasks to figure it out. What don't they understand about the ease of one click for all options (start button) versus the pain of having to scroll through many tiles to find one option. Are they really that idiotic?
    2 Apr 2014, 02:01 PM Reply Like
  • Matthew Davis
    , contributor
    Comments (4746) | Send Message
     
    You can pin anything you want to taskbar and boot directly to desktop, what is it you find so fascinating about a start button. Besides right click the start button in W8 and all options are there.
    2 Apr 2014, 08:39 PM Reply Like
  • wil3714
    , contributor
    Comments (2273) | Send Message
     
    You can easily do search by just typing. Spend 5 minutes on tutorial and it makes world of a difference. I'm even glad to spread the word to friends because it makes me look like a genius.
    2 Apr 2014, 10:28 PM Reply Like
  • Curtis Quick
    , contributor
    Comments (12) | Send Message
     
    As far as the keyboard options go ... even in the original Windows 8 you could quickly launch any app just by typing in the name (usually only the first few letters suffice). No searching through endless menus and submenus. With Windows 8.1 you could organize the apps screen by category, recent use, recent installation, and alphabet. Hardly ever a need for scrolling.
    2 Apr 2014, 11:37 PM Reply Like
  • David at Imperial Beach
    , contributor
    Comments (4382) | Send Message
     
    I run Windows 8 (not 8.1) with a start button. I added free software called ClassicShell. There's no "fascination" with the start button. It was functional and gave you access to most all of the operating system's capabilities, even if there were also other shortcuts available. It was dependable. You could guide someone through the navigation to a function over the phone if you directed them to the start menu.

     

    Windows Metro broke something that for many people was indispensable to their habitual use of Windows and gave them a poorly thought out system of hidden nooks and crannies in a jarring new non-Windows interface that you have to know the secrets to. You have to be trained to use it. It's far from intuitive to a native Windows user. Furthermore the new system lacks essential functions of the old one. Simple things like being able to right click and bring up a context menu. And Microsoft arrogantly decided that everybody had to use their new system when they could have easily allowed both systems to coexist side-by-side, and in fact did allow it on the pre-release version of Windows 8.
    3 Apr 2014, 12:41 AM Reply Like
  • wil3714
    , contributor
    Comments (2273) | Send Message
     
    You can even dl the W8 skin that looks like W7. Thats the thing about MS,you have so many options on how to do things.
    3 Apr 2014, 07:14 AM Reply Like
  • Matthew Davis
    , contributor
    Comments (4746) | Send Message
     
    Thankfully they listened to you.
    3 Apr 2014, 08:25 AM Reply Like
  • ekin09
    , contributor
    Comments (178) | Send Message
     
    Cortana.. Really?
    2 Apr 2014, 02:05 PM Reply Like
  • Peter Larson
    , contributor
    Comments (642) | Send Message
     
    It says a lot when you're Microsoft and "Halo" is your most promising brand...
    2 Apr 2014, 06:03 PM Reply Like
  • mexec1
    , contributor
    Comments (80) | Send Message
     
    She saved the Master Chief. It's only logical she saves Microsoft next :)
    2 Apr 2014, 07:04 PM Reply Like
  • dezee
    , contributor
    Comments (3974) | Send Message
     
    MS train keeps on moving, cant wait for the next release of updates, new products, and innovation.

     

    MS products are looking more and more exciting everyday
    2 Apr 2014, 02:11 PM Reply Like
  • Seppo Sahrakorpi
    , contributor
    Comments (2146) | Send Message
     
    Nokia press release:

     

    Nokia Introduces Three Lumia Smartphones for Windows Phone 8.1

     

    http://nokia.ly/1ecLwSb
    2 Apr 2014, 02:22 PM Reply Like
  • KIA Investment Research
    , contributor
    Comments (13135) | Send Message
     
    Seppo, I'm even seeing Lumia 1520 ads running here on S/A
    2 Apr 2014, 02:50 PM Reply Like
  • Seppo Sahrakorpi
    , contributor
    Comments (2146) | Send Message
     
    I finally saw a Lumia 1020 (and L520) at the local BB (Ottawa, ON). And apparently some people are actually buying the 1020 for the camera (well I did :) ). It is finally looking a bit better, but unfortunately too late Nokia...
    2 Apr 2014, 03:35 PM Reply Like
  • KIA Investment Research
    , contributor
    Comments (13135) | Send Message
     
    Sepp,

     

    maybe you should try a BlackBerry. I hear they make the the best smartphones, hands-down, bar none! :-)
    2 Apr 2014, 07:32 PM Reply Like
  • Seppo Sahrakorpi
    , contributor
    Comments (2146) | Send Message
     
    LOL... :)
    2 Apr 2014, 08:11 PM Reply Like
  • varan
    , contributor
    Comments (5682) | Send Message
     
    grandma bakes fresh cookies. kids cheer.
    2 Apr 2014, 03:51 PM Reply Like
  • maybenot
    , contributor
    Comments (6606) | Send Message
     
    we like cookies! (well, chocolate chip) :)

     

    Long MSFT
    2 Apr 2014, 08:09 PM Reply Like
  • David at Imperial Beach
    , contributor
    Comments (4382) | Send Message
     
    Let's just hope she stops serving that sour milk with them. Windows 8 = sour milk.
    3 Apr 2014, 12:43 AM Reply Like
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