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New Windows 8.1 leak includes 'Metro' file explorer and improved multitasking

New Windows 8.1 leak includes 'Metro' file explorer and improved multitasking

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WIndows 8.1 multitasking
WIndows 8.1 multitasking

A new build of Windows 8.1 has surfaced on file sharing networks this week along with a host of screenshots providing a fresh look at Microsoft's plans for its Windows 8 upgrade. Build 9369, a more recent build than the previous leak, includes some tweaks and changes as work continues on Windows 8.1. Microsoft hasn't made any significant changes in this build, but the company appears to be improving the multitasking interface for multiple "Metro-style" applications.

New multitasking UI

While the previous build revealed the ability to snap multiple apps, the latest leak includes a new UI element that allows you to pick which view an app opens into. This mode is only enabled when two or more apps are snapped side-by-side, and the new app splash screen simply hovers until an area is selected. Other improvements include a "Files" app with the SkyDrive logo. It's not immediately clear whether this is the result of Microsoft's continued SkyDrive integration, or a separate "Metro" file explorer. Either way, the app includes a touch-friendly interface to navigate local files and content stored on SkyDrive.

Microsoft also appears to be improving its support for keyboard and mouse users. A new apps button is present in the left-hand side of the Start Screen which provides quick access to a list of apps. A new filter is also available to select by "most used" apps. The Search Charm functionality is also altered, allowing users to type a search query and then press enter to search apps or select the relevant search area from the Charm. In Windows 8, this automatically starts searching apps from the Start Screen. A new search setting also allows Windows 8.1 to include search suggestions and results from the web, something we'd previously heard was coming.

Lockscreen camera access was previously discovered, and the UI appears to work in build 9369, allowing users to simply drag down on the lockscreen to access the camera and take photos quickly. Microsoft has also added trackpad settings into the Windows 8-style PC settings page, letting users disable edge gestures. ReFS client support also appears to be present in this latest build, suggesting that Microsoft may be preparing to include its new file system in the final version of Windows 8.1.

No surprises, just refinements

Overall there's no huge surprises or changes here. A boot to desktop setting does not appear to be present, and the Start Button is nowhere to be seen. Microsoft is still tweaking Windows 8.1 heavily and the company is expected to release a public preview version at its Build developer conference in June.

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