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Here is a list of features and tweaks available in Ultimate Windows Tweaker 3 for Windows 8!

System Information

Shows general System Information

Shows Windows Experience Index

Easy Access To Advanced Recovery Options

Run System File Checker Utility Directly

Customization tweaks – Taskbar:

Remove Taskbar

Remove Clock

Show Clock In Middle Of Notification Area

Remove Taskbar Buttons

Remove Volume Icon From Notification Area

Remove Network Icon From Notification Area

Remove Action Center Icon From Notification Area

Remove Clock From Notification Area

Remove Battery Meter From Notification Area

Remove Notification Area

Customization of Taskbar Buttons Grouping

Customization of Taskbar Thumbnail Size

Customization of Taskbar Thumbnail delay time

Customization tweaks – File Explorer:

Show Windows Version On Desktop

Enable Auto-Colorization

Disable Aero Peek Feature

Don’t Show Low Disk Space Warnings

Disable Info Tips For Shortcuts

Make Taskbar Button Switch To Last Active Window

Restore Last Opened Folders At Startup

Delete Page file At Shutdown

Disable Aero Shake Feature

Hide Preview Pane

Disable Full Row Select Items

Disable Aero Snap Feature

Show Status Bar In File Explorer

Launch Folders In A Separate Process

Enable Check Boxes To Select Items

Remove “-Shortcut” Suffix For New Shortcuts

Tweak Drive Letters

Customizing Window Padding Size

Remove Shortcut Arrows From Shortcut Icons

Customization tweaks – Modern UI:

Customization Of Start Screen Animation

When I Point To Upper-Right Corner, Show The Charms

Go To The Desktop Instead Of Start When I Sign In

Show The Apps View Automatically When I Go To Start

List Desktop Apps First In The Apps View When It’s Sorted by Category

Show Desktop Background As Start Screen Background

Don’t Replace Command Prompt With Windows PowerShell On The WinX Menu

Disable Lock Screen

Disable Changing Lock Screen Image

Enable Slide show

Enable Slide show Even On Battery

Use Those Pictures Which Fits Best On Screen

Customization Of Slide show Duration

Enable First Sign-in Animation When New User Account Is Created

Disable Hibernate Feature

Disable “Look for an app in the Store” When Unknown File Type Is Opened

Disable “You have new apps that can open this type of file” Notification

Customization Of Notifications Display Time

Disable Toast Notifications

Lock Start Screen Tiles So That They Can’t Be Rearranged

Clear “Recent” List Items Present In PC Settings

Disable Changing Start Screen Background

Disable Password Reveal Button

Turn On Smart Screen Filter For Windows Store Apps

Hide Minimize Buttons from Title bar of Windows Store Apps

Enable Acess to Camera on Lock Screen

Hide Power Button from Start Screen

Show more apps in All Apps

Show/Hide Hibernate Option in Power Options in the



Show/Hide Sleep Option in Power Options in the



Show/Hide Lock Option in Power Options in the



Show/Hide Sign Out Option in Power Options in the



Show/Hide all options of Power OptionsShow Hibernate Option in Power Options in the



Disable or Enable Start Screen Animations

Add different options to This PC folder, including OneDrive, System Restore, Recycle Bin, Troubleshooting, Programs and features, Windows Update, Modern Search, System, Power Options, networking and Sharing Center, Folder Options, Action center, Display, user Accounts, Personalization, Control Panel, etc.

User Accounts tweaks:

Display Last Logon Information On Logon Screen

Make User Enter Username While Logging On

Use Smart Card To Login

Remove Shutdown Tasks From Logon Screen

Disable Updating Group Policy On Startup

Disable Switching To Secure Desktop While Elevating

Enable Virtualize File And Registry Write Failures To Per-User Locations

Enable Admin Approval Mode For Built-In Administrator Account

Enable Detection Of Application Installation And Prompt For Elevation

Enable Verbose Logon Messages

Require Users To Press CTRL+ALT+DEL To Logon

Change UAC Settings

Customization Of Logon Message

Customization Of What Should Be Done On System Failure

Performance tweaks

Waiting time to kill applications timeout during shutdown

Waiting time to end services at shutdown

Waiting time to kill non-responding applications

Auto-End Non Responsive Programs

Restart Shell Automatically After Some Error

Always Unload DLLs To Free Up Memory

Disable Automatic Folder View Discovery

Turn Off Search Indexer

Increase Priority Of IRQ8

Disable Smooth Scrolling

Disable Windows Time Service

Disable Tablet Input Service

Disable Windows Security Center Service

Disable Prefetch Service

Disable Superfetch Service

Disable Printer Spooling Service

Disable Windows Update Service

Choose L2 Cache

Security tweaks

Disable Registry Editor

Disable Control Panel

Disable Task Manager

Disable WinKey Shortcuts

Disable CMD

Disable Color And Appearance Settings

Disable The Auto Logon Shift Override Feature

Disable Administrative Shares (e.g. ADMIN$)

Disable UAC

Disable The Ability To Shutdown

Disable The Ability To Log Off

Disable Internet Communication

Disable System Restore Configuration

Disable MMC Snap-ins

Disable Folder Options Menu

Disable Encrypting File System

Disable Explorer’s Context Menu

Disable Access To Taskbar Context Menu

Restrict Access To Taskbar And Start Menu Properties

Disable Changing Wallpaper

Turn Off User Tracking

Disable Display Personalization

Disable Windows Media Center

Disable Windows Sound Recorder

Disable Windows Updates

Disable Automatic Restart After Windows Updating

Disable Windows Mobility Center

Disable “Add Features To Windows 8”

Disable Windows Store

Remove complete access to Windows Updates

Disable Windows Media Player Auto Updates

Internet Explorer tweaks:

Enable Menu Bar

Enable Suggested Sites

Enable Caret Browsing

Use ClearType Font




Customizing Homepage

Show Tabs Below Address Bar

Notify When Download Completes

Auto-hide the Tab Bar When In Full screen Mode

Always Load IE In Full Screen Mode

Check Executable’s Signature On Download

Allow Running Executable With Invalid Signature

Clear Cache On Every Exit

Warn On Closing Multiple Tabs

Allow Allocating Additional Bandwidth

Enable Do Not Track

Enable Auto Image Resizing

Enable Smooth Scrolling

Disable Active Scripting for Internet Zone

Disable Scripting of Java Applets for Internet Zone

Use Software Rendering Instead Of GPU Rendering

Enable Third-Party Browser Extensions

Show HTTPS Errors

Disable Script Debugging

Enable DOM Storage

Enable SmartScreen Filter

Context Menu tweaks:

Add 14 built-in Modern apps to Desktop Context Menu

Add “Take Ownership” Option To Files And Folders

Add “Open Command Window Here” Option

Add “Copy To…” Option To Every Object

Add “Move To…” Option To Every Object

Additional Tweaks:

Use Autoplay For All Media And Devices

Use Small Taskbar Icons

Show Balloons In Notification Area

Hide Inactive Icons From Notification Area

Turn Off Automatic Applications Termination

Customizing DPI Scaling

Customizing No. Of Jump List Items

Customizing Blinking Cursor Width

Customizing Cursor Blinking Time

Customizing Scroll Bar Width

Enable the Network Adapter Onboard Processor

Restrict Access Over Anonymous Connections

Disable Recent Shares In Network Places

Disable Default Admin And Disk Drive Share Server

Hide Entire Network From Network Neighbourhood

Prevent Network Auto-Discovery

Hide Computer From The Browser List

Enable NTLM 2 Support

Set Global Network/Internet Offline

Edit OEM Information

Option To Add UWT 3 To Startup

Option To Integrate UWT 3 With Desktop Context Menu

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13 Windows 10 Tweaks For Better Performance

Whether your computer is old or new, you need it to deliver optimum performance to enjoy your work, gaming or media streaming experience.

There are many reasons why the device may feel sluggish, but you can make it run faster. Whatever your reason may be for wanting to speed things up, we share some tweaks to speed up Windows 10 and get the most out of your device.

Table of Contents

How to Tweak Windows 10 to Improve Your Computer’s Performance

Windows 10 works fast on modern hardware, but over time, the operating system may start degrading due to viruses, bugs, compatibility issues, hardware problems and more. There are several things you can do to speed up and speed up Windows 10 on your computer when it gets slower instead of replacing it altogether.

Here are some simple hardware and software tweaks that can significantly speed up, optimize and improve Windows 10 no matter the configuration.

1. Check for and Install Windows Updates

To get the most out of your computer, you need to install the latest version of Windows 10. As you check for Windows updates, your PC also searches for the latest device drivers, which translates to better performance.

Select Windows Updates on the left pane and then select Check for updates.

Check if there are any updates available or pending updates, and then select Install now to install them.

2. Open Only the Apps You Need

Too many apps, browsers and tabs or programs open at the same time can slow down your computer and reduce its performance. This is because each app eats up RAM, CPU and GPU performance, disk space and system resources.

To resolve this and speed up Windows 10, close any apps that you don’t need as well as any browser tabs or programs that aren’t in use and see if your computer performs better.

If you have apps designed to work with older Windows versions running in Windows 10, check whether the developer has an updated version or use the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter to see what apps are affecting your computer’s performance.

To run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, type Troubleshoot in the search box and select Troubleshoot settings.

Select Additional Troubleshooters.

3. Use ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a disk caching software by Microsoft, which was developed for Windows Vista. The software may be useful in limited circumstances and allows you to use a USB flash drive (500 MB) or other removable drive to help improve performance and without adding more RAM or opening your computer.

Note: Windows will notify you if your device cannot use ReadyBoost, and then determines the free space required to optimize memory and speed up Windows 10. However, ReadyBoost can’t work if you’ve installed Windows 10 on an SSD drive because the latter is already fast.

Select OK to reserve the free space for ReadyBoost to use it.

4. Enable Automatic Page File Management

Automatic page file management ensures that the system can manage the page file size. Windows uses the paging file area on your hard disk like memory and manages it automatically for better performance.

Next, select Advanced tab in System Properties and then go to the Performance section and select Settings.

Select Advanced tab in the Performance Options section and then go to Virtual Memory area and select Change.

Next, select the box next to Automatically manage paging file size for all drives, and then restart your computer.

5. Free Up Space on Your Computer

If there’s limited space on your startup drive, your computer will work harder at finding room to store your temporary files and apps. 

Moreover, the system also reserves disk space for virtual memory so when the space gets tight, your computer’s performance will slow down while it tries to manage all the storage tasks.

To ease the overhead, make sure your computer has about 10 to 15 percent of free space to avoid dramatic slowdown due to storage in Windows 10. You can use the built-in disk cleanup utility to free up some space or uninstall apps you no longer use or need.

6. Adjust Visual Effects in Windows 10 for Best Performance

There are many visual effects in Windows 10 including shadow effects and animations, all of which look great, but hog system resources and slow down your computer.

To adjust visual effects in Windows 10, type performance in the search bar and then select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.

Select Adjust for best performance on the Visual Effects tab and then select Apply.

Reboot your computer and check whether the performance improves after adjusting the visual effects.

7. Pause OneDrive Syncing Temporarily

In Windows 10, you can choose where to save your files by default. For instance, you can choose to save them locally on your computer or to OneDrive and sync files. This way, you can access your files from any location or device provided you’re connected to the internet.

Saving to OneDrive also keeps backups of your files in case your computer is damaged or gets lost. However, syncing can slow down your computer, but you can pause syncing to OneDrive temporarily to speed up Windows 10.

8. Disable Startup Programs

When you power on your computer, you’ll notice that some programs start automatically and run in the background. Such programs slow down your computer, but you can disable them especially for programs you don’t use often as they increase the time Windows takes to start.

Find the program you want to stop in the Startup Apps area and set it to Off.

Note: If you turn off a startup program and it still starts automatically when you turn on your computer, run a virus and malware scan.

9. Scan Your Computer for Viruses and Malware

Viruses and malware are known to slow down your computer’s performance. When your computer is infected with viruses or malware, you may notice the sound of your hard disk constantly working, programs unexpectedly start automatically and there are unexpected popups.

Make sure you have the best antivirus that can nuke any virus or malware and keep it up to date. Run regular scans and make sure you don’t install multiple anti malware or antivirus software to avoid software conflicts that also affect your computer’s performance.

10. Switch to a New Power Plan

Windows 10 optimizes power usage through different power plans such as Power Saver, Balanced and High performance plans. The High Performance plan is ideal for better performance as it allows your computer to use more power and work faster.

Select Additional power settings under Related settings.

Next, select Create a power plan and then select High performance power plan.

11. Disable Search Indexing

The Windows search indexing process may hog system resources and negatively impact your computer’s performance. You can disable the search index to improve system performance using these steps.

Next, select Advanced Search Indexer settings under the More search indexer settings.

Select Modify.

Next, select Show all locations.

Clear all the selected locations under the Change selected locations area and then select OK.

Windows will no longer index the specified locations and your computer’s performance will improve.

12. Perform System Restore

If you installed a new device driver, system update or app and your computer’s performance began to slow down, you can use a System Restore to return the device to a previous working state.

Note: A System restore removes system changes, drivers, updates and apps you installed after the restore point was created, but your files will be preserved.

13. Factory Reset Your Computer

If you’ve tried all the above solutions and your computer’s performance is still dismal, you can factory reset your computer as a last resort. Doing this will reinstall the operating system, give you a clean copy of Windows 10 to start from and boost your computer’s overall system performance, battery life, startup and shut down.

Boost Your Computer’s Performance

Microsoft Hopes For Second Chance With Windows 8.1

As Microsoft’s Build 2013 developer conference kicks off this Wednesday, the company faces a daunting task: To convince developers and tech enthusiasts that it remains on the cutting edge. That’s a tough challenge when you’re about to release a Windows system update that most think exists to correct nagging flaws.

Indeed, it’s hard to make a Band-Aid look like a fresh innovation.

For many consumers, the Windows 8 Start page is a crazy quilt of incoherence that’s thrust in their faces as soon as their PCs boot. This will be resolved in a new boot-to-desktop feature, but Windows 8.1 still needs to address a laundry list of other issues, and Windows watchers worldwide remain skeptical. 

”I think the [Windows 8] updates have been noticed by the tech community,” said Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research. “But the mass market perception of Windows hasn’t changed that much.”

Exhibit A for the case to be made against Windows 8: the Start screen.

What should we expect from Build 2013? On June 26, Microsoft will provide its first preview of Windows 8.1, which should dominate discussion on the first day of the conference. On the second day, look for the conversation to turn to Visual Studio and other development initiatives.

That’s right: First and foremost, Build is a developer’s conference, and Microsoft must get software partners interested in platform support. “What I’m hoping for with Build is principally a more refined application development story with 8.1, and going out the broader ecosystem,” said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.

It all comes down to convincing developers that the new Windows ecosystem offers value—and return on investment. PCs, Surface tablets, and Windows Phone handsets represent the three legs of the hardware infrastructure, and they’re all tied together by Microsoft’s cloud of software and services.

A steep hill to climb

Microsoft offered the Windows 8 developer preview in September 2011, as the first hints arrived that the traditional PC market was in serious decline, and tablets and phones were gobbling up consumer dollars. Microsoft clearly saw our more mobile future, and attached a tablet interface to the front of the traditional Windows operating system. Then came Microsoft’s Surface tablet, released in October 2012. The hardware gets praise, but consumers can’t stomach its high price and lack of interesting software.

Since it shipped with the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet last year, Windows 8 has been blamed for the demise of the traditional PC. The criticism was underscored by the decline in corporate licensing, as businesses hesitated to upgrade to an unfamiliar OS. Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Windows marketing chief, promises that things will improve in the latter part of the year.

In part, the optimism is pegged on Windows 8.1. Microsoft has promised a litany of improvements: a revamped Start menu; the capability for corporations to wipe corporate data off of Windows 8 business machines; and friendly features such as sharing backgrounds between the Start page and Desktop.

Windows 8: Is it really as bad as we think?

Microsoft made a big mistake in failing to realize that the vast majority of users would experience Windows 8 from a traditional PC, and not from a Surface or tablet-PC hybrid. From this perspective, the Start screen introduced in Windows 8 makes little sense.

Organized correctly, is this as useful as the Windows 7 Start menu?

Nonetheless, the upcoming “boot to Desktop” feature and the addition of the Start shortcut on the Desktop page contradict each other. Boot to desktop brings users to the familiar environment they know and love, but to do anything, they still need to return to the unfamiliar Start page. A number of third-party add-ons solve the problem, but Microsoft would have been better served by placing a Start option within the Desktop context.

Microsoft also still wastes space in its sprawling suite of Windows Store apps that take up way too much screen space. “Snapping” an app or two—or four, in Windows 8.1—may mitigate the problem, but it still looks inefficient, even if it makes sense from a user-interface perspective. And I still hate using the touch version of Internet Explorer. I’d much rather use the Desktop version or Google’s Chrome, instead.

It’s probably time to argue, however, that Windows 8 isn’t as bad as we think.

For example, setting up a third-party device just works—as it should, and as it always should have. The new OS also requires less memory than Windows 7, and the required disk storage should drop with Windows 8.1, as well. The bottom line? Windows 8 is a toned, stylish, polished professional athlete. But it’s wearing clown makeup, and that creates a serious image problem.

Under the hood, Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 works fine.

We need mobile apps—not many, but the biggies

Before a new product can sell, notes Directions on Microsoft’s Miller, it has to offer a compelling answer to a critical question: What can I do with this that I couldn’t do before? With Windows 8, “the story hasn’t been compelling,” Miller said. “There hasn’t been enough great experiences.” And those experiences need to emerge through apps.

The apps question flips the Desktop versus Start page argument on its head. People working on PCs instinctively visit the Facebook Web page. It works fine. We’re used to it. But Facebook formatted as an app or mobile Web page for iOS, Android, and (my favorite) Windows Phone looks far smoother than any Web page for the desktop.

Ignoring the fact that the share of Windows tablets is miniscule, Microsoft simply needs to commission a few key apps for Windows 8: Facebook, Yelp, and Pinterest, for starters. Pinning a Web shortcut to the Start menu is not the right solution.

And if Microsoft plans to usurp the iPad and the Chromebook in the education market, stronger partnerships with educational developers are essential. My Lenovo Twist has a Windows 8 Encyclopedia Britannica app that’s not bad, but we really need an iPad-quality app that Microsoft can put in front of educators (and consumers) as an example of the potential of the platform. If only Encarta were still around.

You might be able to argue that Foursquare, for example, belongs on Windows Phone, as it does. But as Forrester’s Gillett points out, we need to see a “continuously evolving and improving” apps story across the ecosystem.

Apps, apps, apps. And not just on Windows Phone, either.

”We need to see more of the operating system, but also more of the total Microsoft experience,” Gillett said. “Phones and Windows tablets is just part of that one continuous Microsoft experience.”

Build represents Microsoft’s second chance. Has the market passed it by? You could make the case that it has, but you can also argue that Microsoft still has wind in its sails. We’ll find out this week.

Windows 10 Mobile Build 10572 Now Available For Download

Microsoft has just pushed Windows 10 Mobile build 10572 to the Fast ring of updates. The new preview for mobile devices includes a number of improvements and fixes over build 10549, which the company released only a week ago.

Head of the Windows Insider program, Gabriel Aul announced on October 20th that the team is ready to ship a new build of the operating system for phones. However, just like with previous releases, build 10572 includes a bug that blocks users on the current preview to install the next version. As such, users must roll back to Windows Phone 8.1 in order to install Windows 10 Mobile build 10572.

It’s important to note that Microsoft also said that it has fixed the upgrade bug, but it will be available on Windows 10 Mobile build 10575 and later — though, this doesn’t mean build 10575 is the next preview the company will release to Insiders.

Here’s what’s new in Windows 10 Mobile build 10549

Cortana: Starting build 10572, Cortana will send notifications to your PC “(needs to be running Build 10565 or higher) when you missed a call. When you miss a call, you can reply with a text to the person who called you right from your PC and Cortana will have your phone send it.”

If you want to send a text from your PC at any time (even when you haven’t missed a call), “type or speak “Text” and the name of a contact to Cortana on your PC in the same way you would on your phone and Cortana will take your message and send it from your phone.”

Remember that to make the new feature work, you need to be signed with your same Microsoft Account in your phone and on your PC. “If you have multiple PCs and don’t want to receive missed call notifications on one of those PCs, you can go to Cortana’s Notebook and then to Settings to toggle “Missed call notifications” to off on any PC on which you don’t want to receive these notifications.”

If you don’t want your phone to send any notifications, “go to Cortana’s Notebook and then to Settings to toggle “Missed call notifications” to off and the phone won’t send the notification to any of your PCs.”

Similar to Windows 10 build 10565 for PC, in build 10572 for mobile devices, “Cortana can help keep track of your leisure time, including movie and event reminders and will give you helpful information to know where to go and to get there on time, including an option to book and track an Uber ride directly from Cortana.” […] “You can book an Uber any time you want by saying ‘Book an Uber’”.

Skype messaging, calling and video experience: This build has the “Skype integration through the Messaging, Phone and Skype video universal Windows apps. Additionally, the Messaging app now supports animated GIFs and includes the ability to search your messages. And the Phone app has the ability to search for contacts from Call History.”

Offline maps: You can now save offline maps to a SD card.

Photo app: You can now mark local photos on your phone as favorites and have them shuffle on the Live Tile. Microsoft has also made some viewer improvements for zooming performance and file information, and added new launch points for rich editing. The company also is including new context menus (press and hold on a photo).

Storage settings: In build 10572, Insiders will see user-interface improvements to storage settings on your device that create a common experience across your PC and phone. Microsoft has enabled the storage settings page to allow users to install applications to expand storage such as and SD card or USB drive on BOTH your phone and PC.

Here are the new fixes in Windows 10 Mobile build 10549

Notifications, such as new messages, can be received without first unlocking the device.

Cortana’s background activity has been optimized for power usage.

Microsoft has fixed some of the issues that were causing the Start screen to not load. Additionally, it has made some performance improvements to the Start screen.

The company has made performance improvements to Acton Center, including swipe to expand and dismiss notifications. Swiping to expand or dismiss notifications should happen more quickly.

The alarm icon now appears on the Lock screen when an alarm is set in the Alarms & Clock app.

The proximity sensor during calls is now behaving as expected on devices that may have previously failed to turn the screen off.

The keyboard will switch languages less aggressively now.

Taping restart to apply an update will reboot the device immediately now.

The update is available immediately through the Fast ring of updates, and remember that you need to be running Windows Phone 8.1 to install the new build. Here are the known issues for this build.

Source Microsoft

Windows 8.1 Is On Its Deathbed. Prepare Now

Microsoft will kill off Windows 8.1 support on January 10, 2023. There’s no out: Microsoft will not be offering an extended support package for Windows 8.1. At that point, you’ll have a choice: buy a new Windows PC, or officially pay to upgrade to either Windows 10 or Windows 11. (Here’s how to get Windows for cheap.)

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What does the end of support mean? Until January 10, Microsoft will offer security patches and other fixes for any security issues that crop up. Afterwards, you’re on your own. If any exploit or malware surfaces, you’ll have to depend on any antivirus software you have running — Microsoft won’t be issuing any more patches after Jan. 10, and your PC will absolutely be at risk.

“Microsoft will not be offering an Extended Security Update (ESU) program for Windows 8.1,” Microsoft says. “Continuing to use Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.”

It’s not just Windows, either. Microsoft encourages users to subscribe to Microsoft 365 (aka Microsoft Office), which continually offers updates — patches and new features — as part of an ongoing subscription. But Microsoft will cease to offers both patches and new features for Microsoft 365 to Windows 8.1 users then, too, the company says.

Our 2013 review of Windows 8.1 notes its “great compromise,” offering an (albeit hidden) way to bypass the controversial tiled Start menu and boot to the desktop directly. Otherwise, the OS feels somewhat old and dated, compared to the more modern Windows 10 and Windows 11 OSes. Incidentally, Windows 8 support ended in 2023.

How to upgrade from Windows 8.1

If you’re currently running a Windows 8 PC, Microsoft acknowledges that the prospects may be bleak. “Most Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 devices will not meet the hardware requirements for upgrading to Windows 11,” the company says.

Instead, you have a choice: purchase a new Windows 11 PC, or alternatively upgrade to Windows 10. Officially, you’ll have to buy a copy. However, there may be still hope to upgrade to Windows 10 (and then 11) for free; you’ll need to start with our tutorial and then visit the Windows 10 download page to see if the new version installs. Otherwise, you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 by purchasing a full version of the software. It’s likely, given the strict hardware requirements of Windows 11, that a Windows 8 PC won’t qualify for an upgrade to that operating system.

Microsoft also notes that upgrading directly from Windows 8 to Windows 11, assuming it works, will overwrite your hard drive with the new OS, erasing its contents. An “in place” upgrade that preserves your data is possible when upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 10, and then from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Before you upgrade to a new operating system, however, be sure to back up your data in case things to awry.

If you do manage to upgrade to Windows 10, you can relax, however: Windows 10 remains supported until Oct. 14, 2025.

Microsoft Outs The New Features In Windows 8.1: Here’s What You Need To Know

Desktop diehards will find a present waiting for them in Windows 8.1, the impending upgrade colloquially dubbed “Windows Blue.” A wonderful, horrible, oh-so-teasing present.

The Start button is back—but the Start menu isn’t.

One much-clamored-for, keyboard- and mouse-friendly feature will be making a debut in Windows 8.1, however. The update adds the option to boot directly to the desktop, bypassing the modern UI start screen completely. (Actually, you can boot into several alternate locations, including the All Apps view.)

Another new option adds the ability to carry your desktop background over to the modern interface, fostering a more unified feel across the OS. If that doesn’t float your boat, new Start screen colors and backgrounds will also be available, including some animated elements. You can also choose to use a slideshow of your pictures for your lock screen, in effect having your PC double as a really expensive digital picture frame when you’re not actively using it.

Moving into modern times

MicrosoftThe new Snap view in action. Yay split screen!

All that said, most of Windows 8.1’s enhancements are made to bolster the modern environment, not the desktop.

The most welcome improvement is the addition of fully customizable Snap views. No longer will you be locked into the two app, quarter-screen Snap limitations of Windows 8 vanilla. Windows 8.1 adds the ability to resize Snap apps to any ratio you’d like, and includes an option to Snap three apps side-by-side-by-side. You’ll also be able to have multiple instances of an app open and Snapped; Microsoft’s blog post lists two Internet Explorer Windows as an example.

Hate the way that every newly installed app gets plopped on your Start screen? You won’t once Windows 8.1 hits, because that annoying “feature” is going the way of the dodo. Instead, any apps installed from the Windows Store will appear under a new “New” filter in the All Apps view, from which you can chose to pin apps to the Start screen if you so desire. Yay self-determination! MicrosoftThe new SkyDrive interface

Windows RT users will be happy to hear that the modern SkyDrive app is gaining the ability to save locally. Currently, you can only use the SkyDrive app to view files already stored in the cloud.

The modern-style PC setting options is also getting a big boost. One of the biggest complaints about Windows 8 is the way it constantly swaps you back and forth between the desktop and modern interfaces, a problem exacerbated by the fact that you have to dive into the desktop control panel to tinker with under-the-hood stuff. No more.

”The updated PC Settings in Windows 8.1 gives you access to all your settings on your device without having to go to the Control Panel on the desktop,” Microsoft’s introductory blog post explains.

Speaking of, Windows 8.1 also adds the ability to sync your settings and Start screen apps across multiple devices, assuming you sign in to those devices using an online-connected Microsoft account.

The Windows Store and the default Microsoft apps are also being tweaked, per Microsoft’s new continuous improvement push. The Search charm, meanwhile, is being overhauled to “provide global search results powered by Bing in a rich, simple-to-read, aggregated view of many content sources.” It sounds like it could be either awesome or horrible; I can’t wait to try it.

More minute improvements include more Live Tile sizing options, additional category filters in the All Apps screen, and a plethora of Start screen tile shuffling options.

So, do these tweaks equate to blue skies or Windows Blah? You’ll be able to judge for yourself on June 26, when Microsoft releases a developer preview of Windows 8.1 to coincide with the BUILD conference.

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