Microsoft released Windows 8.1 on Thursday, it's free to anyone who already has Windows 8, and it will come preinstalled on new computers.
Windows 8.1 is a fairly major update for both tablet and laptop/desktop users, one important thing you'll notice is that you can personalize Windows 8.1 to a greater degree, especially around applications. It still features the dual worlds that Windows 8 created when it came out last October. On one hand, it features a touch-enabled tile interface resembling what's found in tablet computers. On the other, there's the old desktop mode where you can still use your keyboard and mouse.
With Windows 8.1, users have more choices in how they customize their Start and Lock screens. The Start button is back in desktop mode, although not the way it was before Windows 8 came along. In Windows 7 and before, a click on Start would have brought up programs and important folders in a list. Now, one tap on Start flips you back to the new tile interface, where you can click or tap tiles to open programs. A long press brings up crucial settings such as the Control Panel.
About the lockscreen, you can now activate the camera and accept incoming Skype video calls directly from Lock screen without having to unlock it first and launch the appropriate app.
Windows 8.1 also offers support for animated background images. Other features include a broader, more powerful search function that searches among a user's apps, local files and cloud storage; the ability to have up to four app windows up at a time (depending on screen size); and an improved Mail app.
Do you use Windows 8? If so, then get the new version. Windows 8 users can upgrade for free by visiting the Windows Store; if you have another operating system, the upgrade will cost you the same price as Windows 8 itself: $120 for the normal version, or $200 for Windows 8.1 Pro.