Microsoft has released 3D Builder, an app for Windows 8.1 that can be used to discover 3D models or load custom models, adjust the size and position of an object, place multiple objects into a single scene, and then print them using a 3D printer.
Microsoft has released Windows 8.1, which adds more Start screen personalisation, multitasking and search options. For desktop users, the Start button has returned along with boot-to-desktop and other options.
Users of Windows 8 can upgrade to Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store here and keep their data and programs. Users of Windows 8.1 Preview will need to reinstall their programs after upgrading.
Users of Windows 7 and earlier will need to upgrade to Windows 8 and then to Windows 8.1 to avoid losing their programs. Microsoft has also updated all of the core apps, so they need to be updated through the Store app after upgrading to Windows 8.1.
Microsoft has detailed the new and updated Bing apps in Windows 8.1. The Bing apps have been updated with larger tile support and Reading List integration. The Bing News app now has an optional offline mode.
There is also a new Bing Health & Fitness app that features diet, health and exercise trackers and step-by-step instructions for nearly 1000 exercises and 220 workouts.
A new Bing Food & Drink app has thousands of recipes and a hands-free mode that allows the user to swipe their hand in front of their device’s camera to navigate between pages of a recipe. Learn more on the Windows Experience blog here.
Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Windows 8.1 Enterprise has many features not available in other editions such as Start screen policies, Windows To Go, AppLocker, BitLocker, BranchCache and DirectAccess. Learn more on the Windows blog here.
Microsoft has also announced the pricing of Windows 8.1. It will be available as a free download for Windows 8 users. Users of previous versions of Windows must purchase a full edition of Windows 8 for US$119.99 or Windows 8 Pro for US$199.99. There is also a Windows 8 Pro Pack that can be purchased separately to add Windows Media Center.
There are no longer any Upgrade versions available. Users of Windows 7 can keep their files when upgrading, but they will need to reinstall their desktop programs. Users of Windows XP and Vista will lose their files and programs when upgrading, so they’ll need to back up file and reinstall programs. Learn more on the Windows blog here.
After previously announcing that developers would have to wait until General Availability to get access to the final version of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has listened to feedback and made it available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers.
Included in the release is Windows 8.1 RTM, Windows 8.1 Pro RTM, Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM and Visual Studio 2013 Release Candidate. Windows 8.1 Enterprise RTM will become available later in this month. Learn more on the MSDN Blog here.
Windows 8.1 RTM comes with a pre-release version of Skype for Windows 8.1. In this version, call notifications and the live tile have Video, Voice and Decline buttons. It is also possible to answer a call directly from the lock screen. Learn more on the Skype Blog here.
Microsoft has shown off its new 3D printing feature in Windows 8.1. They created a new 3D manufacturing document format that lets users print 3D models from a Windows Store and desktop apps in the same way they would print 2D documents.
Users just need to open a 3D model, swipe in from the right, tap Devices, tap Print, tap the 3D printer, choose the 3D printer options such as print quality and density, and then tap the Print button. Learn more on the Extreme Windows Blog here.
Microsoft has released firmware updates for Surface RT and Pro. The Surface RT update optimises UEFI to improve audio at low volumes and remove a perceived pulsing in volume. It also updates system drivers to enhance stability and reliability.
The Surface Pro update optimises UEFI and SAM to enhance system stability and reliability, and reduce power consumption and touch latency of the touchpad. Using a Surface tablet? Run Windows Update to manually install these firmware updates or wait for them to automatically install.
Microsoft has also released updates for Windows 8.1 Preview with fixes for adaptive streaming and DRM playback features in Internet Explorer 11 Preview and throughout the OS.
Windows 8.1 is almost finished and a leak has revealed the fit and finish changes Microsoft is making before its release in October. To improve discoverability, Windows 8.1 now displays a small bar with a “…” icon like on Windows Phone.
Clicking this button displays the app bar the same way as right-clicking an empty area of the app. The leaked build also has video tutorials in the Help+Tips app on how to navigate the OS and access files and settings.
There are also new parallax backgrounds for the Start screen including one with a fire dragon and one with a robot. The Mail app now has drag-and-drop support and a new sidebar on the left with icons for quick access to categories, folders and favourite people.
The Calendar and People apps have minor improvements including a What’s Next view that shows appointments for the day ahead. Skype is now preinstalled instead of the Messaging app along with other apps including Health & Fitness and Food & Drink.
Microsoft has explained how SkyDrive integration in Windows 8.1 Preview works. SkyDrive now uses placeholder files with only metadata and a large thumbnail preview for images to save space.
For example, a Pictures folder that is 5.6GB on SkyDrive may only take up 185MB on a tablet. These placeholder files can be browsed, searched and managed just like the full files, but they will not be fully downloaded until they are opened for editing.
Interested in learning more? See the Inside SkyDrive blog here.
Microsoft has added panorama support to SkyDrive. Users of Windows 8.1 Preview can use Panorama button in the Camera app to create a panorama and save it as a .pano file in the camera roll.
If the option to automatically upload to SkyDrive isn’t enabled, the .pano file will need to be manually uploaded to SkyDrive. The panorama can then be viewed on the SkyDrive website.