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Windows 8.1 'Blue' preview: It beats Windows 8

Woody Leonhard | June 28, 2013
Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Preview does much to improve Metro, but little to make Windows 8 more attractive to either new or longtime Windows users

The Microsoft-supplied Metro apps are in for big changes -- due to appear before Win8.1 ships -- with Bing now powering many of the offerings, including Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, and Help & Tips. The final version of Xbox Music, we're assured, will actually play music, instead of just trying to sell it. Video is supposed to be de-fanged as well.

I encountered many stability problems with Windows 8.1. Clicking or tapping on options in Microsoft's own Metro apps frequently dumped me back on the Metro Start screen. Trying to move around Metro snapped panes led to freezes and bizarre displays. I couldn't get live tiles to update. Icing on the cake, the 64-bit version is so slow on a Windows 8 Hyper-V VM that I frequently found myself twiddling my thumbs. It's definitely a beta.

The verdict
If anybody at Microsoft really believes that Windows 8.1 will turn the tide of public sentiment against Windows 8, they're sorely mistaken. If Microsoft had the willingness or wherewithal to implement something akin to the Windows Red proposal, both consumers and business users would have more cause to be excited about the next version of Windows. As it stands, Windows 8.1 will rightfully be viewed as another missed opportunity.

That said, if you have Windows 8, by either an error of omission or commission, you should definitely install Windows 8.1 when it's available. Win 8.1 embodies serious benefits on the Metro side, tiny improvements to the Desktop side, and no noticeable downsides to either.


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