Microsoft releases details for Windows 8 app updates

Microsoft releases details for Windows 8 app updates

Summary: If the built-in apps in Windows 8 feel unpolished or incomplete, there's good reason: they are. That's all about to change, as Microsoft prepares to update all of those apps between now and launch day on October 26.

TOPICS: Software, Apps, Windows

As Windows 8 marches to its final public release on October 26, most of its moving parts are locked down. The last pieces of the puzzle are the built-in apps, which have steadily improved since they debuted in the Consumer Preview in late February. If those apps feel unpolished and incomplete, there’s good reason: they are.

But that's about to change.


In a new post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft’s Gabe Aul has unveiled the release schedule for the last round of updates to the built-in apps before the General Availability (GA) of Windows 8. Besides bug fixes and improved performance, all of the new apps are slated to pick up new features.

According to Aul, the Bing app will be first out of the gate, with the update available via the Windows Store tomorrow. The remaining updates will roll out on an unspecified schedule between now and the official launch date.

Probably the single biggest set of improvements is in the built-in communication apps: Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging. The Mail app will finally provide full support for the IMAP protocol (in addition to Exchange, Hotmail/Outlook, and Gmail). The roundly criticized flat view of Mail folders will also be supplemented by a conversation view, as well as improved search capabilities and the ability to accept or decline invitations in email.

A curious omission in the Photos app is also scheduled to be fixed. Currently, you can only view photos stored in local folders in the Windows 8 app; with the next update, you’ll be able to view photos and videos in shared network locations and in HomeGroups. The Photos app will also gain the ability to crop and rotate photos and to navigate through folders even when opened from the desktop.

Presumably mindful of the iOS 6 Maps fiasco, the Windows team has lavished attention on the built-in Maps app, adding a laundry list of features that will be especially useful on the coming wave of tablet devices: bird’s-eye views, more than 3000 maps of indoor venues, driving direction hints, and better integration with the Bing and Travel apps.

A few of the built-in apps are powered by Xbox services and are due for significant refreshes. The Music app will see the return of the SmartDJ feature. The Videos app gets closed captioning (a feature designed especially for Paul Thurrott) and the ability to purchase videos in local currencies from within the app. And the Games hub should be a little more Xbox-like, with in-game purchasing, invites, and turn notifications.

The SkyDrive app, which is at the core of Windows 8’s sync capabilities, desperately needs improvements to bring it up to the capabilities of the web client. We’ll see how close the app can get.

The News app will get content from some high-profile partners, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Videos and slideshows are also on the new-feature list, along with an improved article reader and a better offline reading experience.

All of the Windows 8 apps are lightweight, which means updates typically take less than a minute each. If you’re using the final release of Windows 8, a notification on the Store icon will let you know that app updates are available. You’ll need to visit the store to approve the updates, which aren’t delivered automatically.

Topics: Software, Apps, Windows

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  • Hmm

    The only thing "apps" do (and that's for ios as well as win 8 etc) is take control away from the user..

    "Currently, you can only view photos stored in local folders in the Windows 8 app; with the next update, you’ll be able to view photos and videos in shared network locations and in HomeGroups."

    Huh ? I never ever use the standard documents, pictures etc folders on my pc... I keep all my stuff in my own directory tree on my D partition.. I have a network but don't use the standard sharing methods or homegroups or whatever... I just share all my drives with full control on all drives over the entire network. That's fine, only my girlfriend and me using the 4 devices here on the network..

    Also, I live in europe... wall street journals and new york times mean nothing to me...
    • RU kidding

      By all means they should have thought you wouldnt be interested in wallstreet journal or NY times bcause you live in Europe! Apps are assets for most users. They didnt make it just for you!
    • @DJK2

      One of the good things about adding your docs, pictures, videos and music to the libraries is that the search engine indexes them so that its easier for you to find documents containing terms that you need to find.

      Many apps also open/save docs from/to default library locations so you may save some unnecessary folder navigation.

      HomeGroup is a quick, easy and safe way to share files and printers with two or more computers on your network. Don't need it? Don't use it.
      • Libraries

        I still absolutely, positively HATE the Libraries feature. And I don't use the word hate lightly.

        Indeed I also keep all my documents on a D: drive. So then I map all the standard 'My Pictures', 'My Documents', 'Downloads' and so on to the corresponding locations on teh D drive. The folder in which I keep local documents isn't actually called 'My Documents' on that drive, but guess what Windows does when you map it to another folder? It pretends the name is 'My Documents' anyway! Only in a command prompt will you see the actual name.

        With Libraries I'm never confident it will save a file in the right location. It just makes a big mash of all my folders.. Look, I'm perfectly capable of organizing my files and folders in a way that makes sense to me, I want Windows to stay out of that, completely! Because accidentally deleting or misplacing an important folder is a #$*&()&# BIG DEAL.

        This horrendous Windows 7 behavior is still present in Win 8.

        As for the Homegroup, I'm on a Domain so Homegroup is not avialsble.. So WHY does it still show in the list in File Explorer?

        For one of THE most basic functions of an OS/GUI (dealing with your files), it's stil profoundly weird and cumbersome.
        Han CNX
        • Wow, you really need to learn how this feature works

          You can map each library to your custom folders and completely remove all folders you don't want. So the Documents folder can consist EXCLUSIVELY of D:\Documents. No guessing about where those files are going to go.

          You can also create custom libraries, with the advantage that anything in that library (whether it is drawn from one folder or many) can be searched as a single entity. This is great if you have some pictures or documents locally, others on a separate local drive, still others on a network share.

          It sounds like libraries would actually work very well for you. Maybe you should read up on how to use them. I can recommend a book if you would like. ;)
          Ed Bott
    • Use your own folders? That's fine!

      It is great that you use your own folders for things. Windows 8 doesn't care about that. These apps, like Pictures, don't use fixed locations on the hard drive. They utilise the standard Library locations which were introduced in Windows 7.

      That means your "D:\" partition folders containing your pictures, music, and other documents can be added to the appropriate Libraries to work seamlessly with these apps. You can even set those folders as the save location so if you ever copy something to the "Pictures" library it'll go straight where you want.
      • No network locations in Libraries

        Yes, you can add LOCAL drives to your libraries. But you CAN'T add network locations. And he specifically said he uses network shares to access his stuff.
        • Wrong

          You can add network locations to libraries, as long as they are on locations that can be indexed. Windows Server, Windows Home Server, Windows Vista/7/8, etc. etc.

          All of my libraries have Windows Server shares included in them.
          Ed Bott
    • Oh sorry!

      No one realized Microsoft was building an OS for YOUR needs. Well MY needs say that these updates are good improvements because I USE the Apps on Windows 8, and more functionality is a GOOD thing here in my life.
      • Re: No one realized Microsoft was building an OS for YOUR needs.

        Didn't they do an ad campaign, trying to tell us we were the ones who created Dimdows?
  • Awesome. I hope they keeping updating all the W8 apps every month or two

    And I hope all the 3rd party isv apps in the store update frequently as well. Very much looking forward to the Windows Store app ecosystem. :)
    Johnny Vegas
    • Well

      Well, here's hoping.

      I have a bad feeling about this, looking at the quality of what's on offer from Third Parties in the Windows Store.
      Han CNX
  • Windows 8 Mail App

    Please tell me it now supports drag and drop.

    Right clicking (or having to swipe) to reveal the 'Move' button.............
    Han CNX
  • What A Complete Waste Of Space

    Look at that screenshot. It has the equivalent of just 3 app icons on it, yet look how much space they take up. Why is the Mail Icon bigger than the others? It's just more bloated UI padding.

    The tiles are supposed to be "live", yet only one of them is making use of that to show you any info (3 updates pending).

    TIFKAM represents the triumph of form over substance.
    • Oh my..

      There is a very good reason why that mail tile is bigger by default. As it indeed IS a live tile, and it would cycle through your last received emails IF they actually exists. Now it could very well be that in this particular case, there simply aren't any emails, or more likely email hasn't even been configured. To make you feel any better, you could even resize the icon to make it smaller, in which case it becomes the same size as the other two and it will just show the number of unread emails instead of cycling through the content of emails.

      Many if these tiles (like calendar for instance) have the same method of operation, which is absolutely excellent.
    • It amazes me the people

      that rant and rave about a missing feature that don't do their own homework on how the feature works. They've read so many blogs and comments that they actually believe what they have never seen. I think as soon as real techies get off their duff and really determine the features this OS has, then consumers will see what it ACTUALLY does and doesn't. The issue is, technies love to be the first one called so they can APPEAR to be the knowledgeable ones, but they've gotten away from doing their own homework. Most techies these days should change their title; they are not as well versed as they use to be because they have become lazy and complacent and will allow another poeoples tech opinion to rule and sway them. Sorry folks, I do my own homeworl, just like in school - doing it any other way is just...well...cheating!
  • superb...

    the best of all app ecosystems is going to hit, and hit hard.
    • correction...

      for the of updates to the built-in apps for Windows 8.

      I doubt whether this will be the "last round". There will be constant updates to these free apps. The Store update system will be at it's best when it enables constant updates to apps from its developers...

      In the classic world it was so difficult to get updates to the apps... Every vendor had their own experiences for updates. So asked us to download big installers from their sites, others supplied a confusing amount of small patches and hot fixes, another group used their own app updaters (Adobe Flash, Apple) which had their own flaws... they all ran background processes to constantly check for updates from their online services and thereby consuming CPU, Memory and Battery in the way... with the Apple ones being notorious.
      headaches headaches!!!!

      With the Store update model, sanity will prevail. Users just need to keep one thing in mind, "Keep the desktop world clean", do not install all crapware even the ones from biggies like Apple, Sun/Oracle (hate Quicktime and Java). Install Genuine Quality Software on the Desktop and play free with the Store Apps.
  • ha.

    I thought about Thurrott too as soon as I read about the closed captioning support.
  • Nice story Ed

    I enjoy reading your stories, especially when I see how Microsoft has finally taken to emulating Linux.

    How so? Well, Linux Distributions (Distros) have been around for many many years and offer something called the 'Repository'.

    Ah, repository. What's that?

    It's a place where all Linux Apps are stored safely with GnuPG keyring protection.
    Each App's developer is vetted, his/her background is checked, the source code is thoroughly reviewed and tested, all before accepting the application into the repository.

    The GPG key-protection keeps the App from becoming tainted or meddled with, if you will, and greatly reduces the likelihood that any App might contain a Trojan that can silently deploy on your system during installation.

    That repo feature has been the cornerstone of why Linux has a reputation for being so safe.

    Peer review of source code from many eyes around the Globe assure that the quality and safety of Linux will prevail.

    Microsoft is finally, FINALLY catching on.

    Thanks Ed!

    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    Your Linux Advocate
    Dietrich T. Schmitz + Your Linux Advocate