New Windows 8 Blue leak shows more refinements


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Microsoft just can’t seem to keep a lid on it: A new development version of Windows 8.1, aka Windows Blue, was leaked this week on P2P sites, showing some new tweaks and improvements.

Build 9369 does not bring any significant changes over the previous leak, but Microsoft seems to be working on refinements of the multi-tasking interface, as well as a new Apps List and a new file explorer for SkyDrive.

In the first Windows 8.1 leak, we saw a new mode for snapping two apps on the screen in 50/50 ratio (compared to the 75/25 ratio currently available). The new build adds a splash screen for new apps you want to snap side by side—you simply swipe it left or right to choose which side of the screen it goes to. The app then opens.

There’s also a new touch-friendly Files app carrying the SkyDrive logo, which allows you to navigate files stored either on your hard drive or on the cloud-storage service, although it’s unclear whether this app will replace the SkyDrive app. In settings, some new additions include the ability to save files to SkyDrive by default and a new option to connect to a wireless display.

Upgrades for mouse and keyboard users

While these improvements are beneficial for users of touch devices, Microsoft also is working on more adaptations for mouse and keyboard users.

Build 9369 brings a new button in the bottom left area of the Start Screen so you can click and quickly get to a list of all your installed apps. From there you can sort alphabetically, by most used, or by most recently installed apps, as well as search for apps.

The Search charm also has been updated to reveal apps from your results and, via a new setting, you also can include suggestions from the Web.

Reports earlier this week indicated that Microsoft is considering bringing back the pop-up Start menu for the desktop mode as well as a new option to boot straight into desktop mode, bypassing the new “Metro” interface altogether.

Neither of these features, however, seems to have made it into this latest leak of Windows 8.1.

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