Microsoft Windows 8.1

9.0
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Reviewed by lpwalsh (Currently owns)

The Return of the Start Button and Oh So Much More:
With Windows 8, Microsoft brought to desktop and laptop PCs everywhere an OS designed for tablets and far from the likes of Windows 7. With usage at less than 10% among PC users and falling farther and farther behind in the tablet market, Windows 8 was in dire need of a major update, and then comes along Windows 8.1. While Windows 8.1 retains the metro design language and only brings half of the start button back, Windows 8.1 is a major and welcome update to Windows 8. Windows 8.1 brings more than just the start button back to Windows but introduces Bing Smart Search, a beautiful universal search that works right inside the search charm, a greater variety of live tile sizes and greater SkyDrive integration, moving Microsoft one step closer to full integration. With Windows 8.1’s SkyDrive sync, you can back up your settings, start screen, documents and pictures automatically allowing you to log on to a Windows 8.1 PC anywhere and having your start screen, settings, documents and pictures right there. Microsoft has also brought tab sync to Internet Explorer 11, a long awaited feature that allows you to sync your tabs across multiple computers and soon Windows Phones (coming in an update in the near future). If you are working on a desktop or laptop, a nice feature Microsoft has added is the feature to boot directly to the desktop, bypassing the Start screen. This is only half the answer to those who dislike the metro start screen because once you click the start button you end up right back at the metro start screen, a feature that will annoy some but helps Microsoft get the point out that the Start screen is the new start menu, with all the same features and much more. Along with Windows 8.1 comes welcome updates to the baked-in Xbox Music, Xbox Videos, Mail, and Store apps. The Windows Store now has well over 100,000 apps and growing every day. While 100,000 may seem tiny compared to the 900,000 apps available on IOS, it is still greater than the amount available in the Mac marketplace and does not count the millions of desktop applications available for download just like every other previous version of Windows. Windows 8.1 is fast with even faster start-up times and will be even faster if running on Intel 4th-generation processors. While many may disagree, the Windows OS is better than ever. If you are upgrading from Windows 7 or XP, yes there will be a learning curve, but after playing around with it for a few minutes you will get the hang of it and be amazed by the OS Microsoft has put together.

The Breakdown

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  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Ecosystem 10
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