In Pictures: Windows 8.1 deep dive review

The preview of Windows 8.1 reveals an operating system that corrects many, but not all, of its previous mistakes.

  • Windows 8.1: Useful changes At first glance, Windows 8.1 looks very much like Windows 8, but there are plenty of useful changes that make it a better operating system.

  • Go straight to the desktop The Navigation tab, a new tab added in Windows 8.1, lets you go straight to the desktop when you sign in instead of to the Start screen.

  • Apps view The Apps view is a listing of every Modern and desktop app on your system; you can now head straight there, turning it into a useful app launcher.

  • Desktop wallpaper Microsoft has made a stab at trying to make the desktop and Start screen look as if they are part of the same, unified system by letting you use the same wallpaper on both.However...

  • Start screen wallpaper ...the two interfaces still look and work differently from one another.

  • Power User menu The Power User menu makes it easier to shut down or restart your device, or put it to sleep.

  • Search In Windows 8.1, the search capabilities have been powered up significantly; your search now includes both Web and local results.

  • Search Hero Search Hero takes results from your device and from the Web -- including graphics and videos -- and aggregates it all into a simple-to-read page.

  • Photos The Photos app has been updated and now includes some useful editing tools, such as brightness, contrast, special effects, cropping and red-eye removal.

  • Food and Drink The Food and Drink app features a hands-free mode that allows you to move from page to page by simply waving your hands -- which is great when you're in the kitchen and up to your elbows in flour.

  • Top settings One of the most useful changes is the Top settings screen, which lists those settings that you change most often.

  • Windows Store The Windows Store has been revamped and now includes lists of apps related to the one you're currently viewing.

  • This PC File Explorer has been tweaked as well. The Computer view is now called This PC; in addition, Microsoft has changed the file libraries to folders.

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