A list of new features in Windows 8.1. Much more at the link (which actually compares editions, as well as noting new features).
Follow the link for a decent overview of the new Windows with screenshots.
Windows 8.1 brings a variety of new features and improvements to Windows 8 that we think people will really enjoy. We listened to your feedback and are delivering many of the improvements you asked for.
If you are a consumer with a Windows 8 device, you can now download the free update to Windows 8.1 online through the Windows Store*. Please visit Windows.com for everything you need to know including how to get the update for your Windows 8 device.
If you are a consumer on a device running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the Windows 8.1 Preview – this page on Windows.com will detect your OS and provide you with all the information you need in order to get Windows 8.1 on your device. I also highly recommend reading our FAQ which answers many of the most common questions about getting Windows 8.1. [see note below]
Starting tomorrow October 18th, Windows 8.1 will also be available on new devices and as packaged DVD product at retail locations around the world. You can also click here to learn about the wide variety of new Windows devices available now and coming throughout the holiday season to find the one that best fits their needs, and their budget.
A note to Windows 7 users wanting to upgrade directly to 8.1: You won’t lose data in an upgrade, but you will have to reinstall your desktop programs. There is a two-step way around that: Buy the 8 (8.0) upgrade, install it, then install the free 8.1 update. For some reason, upgrading from 7 to 8, then 8 to 8.1 doesn’t require reinstalling desktop programs.
For a briefer but broader overview without screenshots, follow this link: Microsoft releasing Windows 8.1, a year in making | ABQJournal Online By Ryan Nakashima / The Associated Press
Although I read all reviews of my books, I don’t usually talk about them. I tend to take the negative reviews hard and feel modest (but pleased) about the positive ones. I highlight this well-written review not solely because it is positive, but because it is for a book that is 4 years old and forgotten by the world but one of my favorites.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful!, September 18, 2013
I put off taking the plunge from a big efficient EOS film camera to using a weeny Fine Pix AX 650 digital goodie. That is until I bought “Digital. Photography for Seniors.” I am very senior (83) but where there’s life there’s hope. Was I too old to learn new tricks? Nah! This manual will take you by the hand and trundle you along taking baby steps at first as you follow this fine instruction manual. I even had to learn what a digital camera is and what it is doing- the absolute basics of digital photography about which I hadn’t a clue.
“Digital Photography” is a big handsome book printed in full color on expensive paper. Because the manual is a fine quality production you feel you are getting fine quality instruction as well. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.
Of course the manual covers the basics from … [more at the link]
See these simple illustrations and explanations of a few essential touch gestures.
If you want to know what we mean when we mention swipe, tap, or other ways to interact with Windows 8 or Windows RT when you’re using a touchscreen, take a look at this table.
Windows expert Paul Thurrott has a thorough review of Windows 8.1 with copious links to more detailed articles.
Windows 8.1 Review
Windows 8.1 is a meaningful and welcome upgrade to Windows 8
Sep. 8, 2013 Paul Thurrott
Windows 8 users are encouraged to use a Microsoft Account (see Chapter 4 of Windows 8 for Seniors). The benefits of a Microsoft Account include easy use of SkyDrive to backup and synchronize settings between machines and access to the Microsoft Store for apps.
Of course, anytime passwords are involved, there is a chance one will forget that password. The link below takes you to an official Microsoft page for resetting your password. Use it only in an emergency.
What’s new? – Video messaging – Record life’s everyday moments and share them with the people who matter most, with free and unlimited video messaging over Skype. – General fixes and speed improvements.
This feature only appears after a call is not answered. If you just want to leave a message, you can start a call and immediately cancel it. In contrast, Skype on PCs has a separate Video Message option you can access without tricking the program.
Microsoft’s frequent updating of Windows is ultimately a good thing. However, updates can quickly outdate documentation. This is especially true of books. Every book on Windows 8 which was in print the day Windows 8 was released surely contained numerous errors, through no fault of the authors and editors — the product changed that day and many times since. I won’t go so far as to say don’t buy a book on Windows 8 (or any software?) — even a year-old book will have valid and useful information. However, be aware and forewarned — Windows will change faster than print can keep up with.
In fact, the situation is currently worse with Windows 8.1 because no one working on a book has the Windows 8.1 you will have on your computer in 3 months. It’s a nightmare for the computer book industry. Look for revision dates on all documentation, print or Web-based. peace, mjh
Microsoft will use the time between [now] … and … October 17, 2013 to continue testing Windows 8.1 in anticipation of releasing a set of interim fixes, called Quick Fix Engineering (QFE) updates. These QFEs will be delivered to PC and hardware makers so that they can add them to their PCs and devices before launch. End users will receive these QFEs automatically via Windows Update within three days of GA.
This process of “finalizing” a product and then updating it before it is released to the public isn’t new; Microsoft did the same thing with Windows 8/Windows RT last year. But it does explain the two-month delta between RTM [August’s Release to Manufacturing] and GA [October’s General Availability], which many had questioned. …[I]n this age of constant iteration, no product is ever really done.
Bringing two of the world’s largest communications services together
We believe that your email should work with things you already use. Outlook.com already connects with your Facebook, Skype, and Google friends. Now that you can make Skype video calls from Outlook.com, it’s even easier to stay connected to the people you care about most.
I’ve never found a single computer resource that answered every question I have about a topic. I would be very proud to write such a resource, but I have not done so. I say this to a potential reader who expects any one of my books — or all of them together — to answer every one or just the one question he or she has.
Windows 8 for Seniors for Dummies is a book for beginning users of Windows 8, regardless of age. More specifically, its audience includes a reader who wants step-by-step instructions for those tasks I thought a new user of Windows 8 would need to do first. Beyond that narrow focus, my goal was to help the reader attain the confidence to go beyond the basics and beyond the book.
When a reader sends me a question, I answer that question, if I can. (I don’t know everything.)
Occasionally, a reader writes to tell me he is disappointed with my book for failing him. I’m genuinely sorry to let people down. Such a reader hates Windows 8 and is angry with Microsoft and everyone else. The most frustrating of these tell me nothing about how I’ve failed them or are angry that I didn’t anticipate their questions, even those that are beyond the scope of a beginning Windows 8 book (for example, Office and Google are beyond this book).
If you peruse the Amazon reviews, you’ll find side-by-side comments that seem to be about completely different books. One size does not fit all.
More examples, and probably not for the last time. Each in a series shows progressive zoom (I didn’t move closer). All were taken with autofocus, autoexposure, and the digital boost to the zoom. None have been editing or cropped, so as to preserve framing issues, if any. It is hard to hold a 50x zoom exactly where you want it (arguably 200x with digital boost).
The following zoom on the robin, which is on the wall in the distance in the preceding photos, shows the problem with the Canon focusing on the wrong subject (in this case, the twig beyond the robin’s beak). Gaining control of focus will be the key to enjoying the Canon.
A different series.
Almost done. Canon SX50 HS on the left, Sony HX100v on the right.
Notice the Sony autoexposure doesn’t handle the moon’s brightness correctly until it makes up most of the frame. To be honest, I’m not sure which is more accurate in color.
I’ve taken photos very similar to the ones I used in Part 1 of this comparison with every camera I’ve tested over the past 10 years. However, I wanted fresh examples more typical of my subjects. I’m primarily a nature photographer, including all the outdoors. These photos are of a daylily in my backyard. As in Part 1, Canon SX50 HS is on the left and Sony HX-100v is on the right. All of the shots were taken at a distance, using the digital zoom (after the first photos and except for the last four).
I took two of these fully-zoomed-in photos in quick succession (the second set is below). Notice with the Canon, I held the framing better in the first photo (shifted a bit in the second). With the Sony, the second photo is slightly sharper. Most pros recommend a tripod for the longest shots, but I move too much for that (or my subjects do). And most pros eschew digital zoom, but I’m impressed by the Canon.
Again, those aren’t macros immediately above, they are zoomed across the yard. One of my big concerns about a superzoom is being able to hold the camera steady enough to frame and shoot — it’s not easy. For these subjects, I could move closer (and did so below), but I often photograph birds, wildlife, and landscapes at quite a distance.
You’ll notice all of the Canon shots are brighter, the Sony’s darker. In the field, I’d use exposure compensation to lighten the Sony, but its broken on this camera. In editing, one can easily adjust brightness (and much more), but I prefer to get the best photo I can that will require the least manipulation later.
Including Part 1, these specific comparisons have greatly improved my feelings about the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. My first camping trip with the Canon had me thinking the zoom and autofocus were unreliable. (I still find autofocus failing me more often than with the Sony.) However, I think I’ve started to become more comfortable holding the longer zoom, which gives me hope for rising to the Canon’s capabilities.
I’m comparing the Canon SX50 HS to my Sony HX-100v. The lens specifications for each camera are:
|optical zoom||1200mm (50x)||810mm (30x)|
|digital zoom||4800mm (4x, 200x)||[I can’t find it, but apparently higher than 1200mm but much less than 4800mm]|
Numbers only say so much. (These numbers were provided by Snapsort, which I recommend.) In each of the following groups, the photos on the left are from the Canon; those on the right are from the Sony. The default image format is wider on the Canon. Though the two cameras can be set to similar dimensions, I left the defaults to make it easier for me to tell images apart — dimensions should not be considered in this comparison. You can select any of these photos to see it full-sized.
Wide Angle vs Optical Zoom
There’s a stop sign in the middle of each photo above.
To be fair, the Canon has a long optical zoom. In that regard, a fairer comparison might be to the Sony HX300, another 50x zoom.
Similarly, digital zoom boosts optical, so this Sony (and the HX-200v) can’t compete. However, note the “OL RD NE” in the two road signs. Sony is obviously much rougher/blurrier.
In fact, note that the Sony digital zoom leapfrogs the Canon’s optical zoom. I’ll dupe the 3rd and 8th photos and place them side-by-side.
Many experts reject digital zoom, but I think you should try it on your own camera and decide for yourself.
It’s this last pairing that makes it harder to decide whether to stay with Sony or with Canon. I’m willing to use digital zoom on the Sony, which beats optical zoom on the Canon. But, then, the “OL RD NE” examples may seal the deal. In direct comparison of settings, Canon beats Sony magnification and image quality. Moreover, the Canon zooms very quickly, much more so than the Sony. And, the Canon has a magic button on the lens barrel that zooms out for orientation then returns to zoom on release. Very handy.
This doesn’t tell the whole story. Continue to Part 2.
One common complaint about Windows 8.0 is that switching between the desktop and the Start screen is somehow jarring. I disagree. Nevertheless, Microsoft has provided a very nice way to unify the Start screen and desktop by using the same background for both. Add to this the separate function of using Bing Desktop to change the background each day to the Bing photo of the day.
Unfortunately, this shared background feature is off by default.
Compare the first pair of screens showing the Windows 8.0 Start screen on the left and the desktop (using Bing Desktop) on the right:
Below are 8.1 screens:
(You can select any of these screenshots for a larger view, though I think the thumbnails convey the difference.)
Display the desktop background (wallpaper) as the Start screen background:
2. Select Personalize from the Settings panel.
3. From the grid of backgrounds at the top of the panel, select the last image in the last row — this is the current desktop background.
Note: you can also access this from the desktop using Taskbar properties, then the Navigation tab. In the Start screen section, select Show my desktop background on Start. Select OK.
Now, whatever image you choose for your desktop background will also appear on the Start screen. One option is to select a slideshow of your own photos.
To add Bing Desktop:
The primary function of Bing Desktop is to give you access to Bing for search, as well as updates in categories such as News, Photos, and Videos. However, even if you never use Bing Desktop for searching, you will enjoy the wallpaper function.
2. The Bing wallpaper (desktop background) is enabled by default, but you can confirm that by selecting Information (the I in a circle): select Make the Bing homepage image your desktop background.
Now, each day another new and great photo will appear on your desktop and on your Start screen. (You can use one and not the other, if you prefer.)