Microsoft's Windows 8.1 public preview: What you need to know

Here are all the download links and info you need to know if you want to test drive Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue."

Today's the day. Microsoft is making available to anyone and everyone with Windows 8 and Windows RT a public preview build of its next Windows release, Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue."

On June 26, Microsoft is making the Windows 8.1 preview available for download via the Windows Store. If you choose to download the preview, make sure you know that you will have to reinstall your apps before you move from the preview build to the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) bits.

Check out screen shots of the new Windows 8.1 preview from ZDNet's Ed Bott

Most if not all of the new features in Windows 8.1 have leaked and or been detailed by Microsoft to date. The biggest one in many Microsoft watchers' and customers' eyes is the return of a Start Button of sorts. While this isn't a Start Button with a Start Menu like the current Windows Start buttons, it will provide an anchor for those who have had trouble navigating Windows 8.

Boot straight to desktop is a built-in feature of Windows 8.1, as we've known for a while now. And the search experience in Windows 8.1 is getting a major overhaul .

A few potentially handy links for those interested in the Windows 8.1 preview:

Download link for the Windows 8.1 preview

Windows 8.1 FAQ (read before you install)

List of processors a nd devicessupported (and not) with the Windows 8.1 preview (Note: this is likely to change by RTM)

List of business-focused features in Windows 8.1

Ed Bott's hands-on with Windows 8.1 preview

Preview Product Guide for Windows 8.1 for developers

What's new in DirectX 11.2 in Windows 8.1



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