With Windows 8.1, the desktop you’re used to is still there but it’s better than before, with a new task manager and streamlined file management. It has features that will please long-time Windows users who may have been uncomfortable with Windows 8, as well as features that push the concepts behind Windows 8 even further.

Windows 8.1 officially launched on October 17, 2013 and is free to update.

What’s New in Windows 8.1?​

Windows 8.1

START FASTER

The Start button has returned to the taskbar! If you prefer, you can now go straight to the desktop when you sign in and use the same background for both your desktop and Start. Plus, see all your apps at a glance in the new all-apps view.

SEARCH EVERYWHERE

With Bing Smart Search you can search once and see everything—from the web, or the settings, files, and apps on your PC—and act on search results right away. Play a song, call a friend, open an app, or get to your favorite site. Just search and do.

DO MORE AT ONCE

Chat while gaming, shop while watching, or work while listening. Depending on your screen size, you can now see up to four apps on your screen at once and move with ease through all the ways you use your PC.

GET MORE APPS

In the redesigned Windows Store, you’ll discover apps built only for Windows 8.1, new community favorites, and personalized recommendations. This update also gives you some great new built-in apps like Reading List and Health & Fitness. And now you’ll be able to install your apps on all your tablets and PCs running Windows 8.1.

USE IT YOUR WAY

On your Start screen, there are more tile sizes, more color options, and animated backgrounds. On your lock screen, you can see a slide show of your favorite photos, and answer Skype calls, and take photos—all without unlocking your PC.

TYPE SMOOTHLY

The updated touchscreen keyboard learns as you type, making suggestions based on what you’ve written before. If you use more than one language, you can enter text more easily with new keyboard layouts. Emoji are now in color.

ALWAYS HAVE YOUR FILES

Save documents, photos, and other files to SkyDrive automatically so you’ll have them anywhere—even on another device. And they’ll be safe if something happens to your PC.

BROWSE BETTER

Internet Explorer 11 has faster load times, a full-screen experience that includes side-by-side browsing of sites, and real-time info from favorite sites delivered to your Start screen.​

VOLUME LICENSING FOR WINDOWS 8.1​

SOFTWARE ASSURANCE FOR WINDOWS​

COMPANION SUBSCRIPTION LICENSE FOR WINDOWS​

WINDOWS TO GO