Microsoft begins last update to Windows 8 Apps Before Launch

From SkyDrive to Games, Windows 8 apps will get a refresh before October 26 launch

Windows 8 Start (illustration Microsoft)

Microsoft begins a 3 week roll-out of upgrades to their Windows 8 RTM today with a Bing update.

Every Microsoft app from the Windows Store will get minor updates to tweak performance and app features before the general release of Windows 8 on October 26, 2012 says the Building Windows 8 blog.

This is the last push before the big day for Microsoft. A list of the built-in apps and changes follows. Computer manufacturers get the update as well, although they may not install them if they have gone to manufacturing. This is why a new Windows computer will always check for updates. 

The App updates are only being released on the 90 day licensed Windows 8 RTM which shipped in August. The RTM is not worth the effort since it cannot be upgraded to the release Windows 8. You must do a clean install of Windows 8 when it ships wiping out any software and applications that were installed on RTM. See Windows 8 RTM is not a gift.

I installed the RTM on a separate drive to test Sonar X2 which was just released but don’t use it very often. It’s not worth the effort to install all my applications over and over at the whim of Microsoft. The Windows 8 Release Preview works fine.

Hardware and software partners are making daily announcements of Windows 8 certified hardware so the race to launch day is on. One of the interesting things we don’t see are any multi-touch monitors that uses can buy to upgrade their systems. Mostly the announcements have been for All-In-One computers, tablets and laptops.

Planar announced one expensive multi-touch monitor that won’t be too popular at $800. People expect monitors to cost $200 to $400. The certification requirements for Windows 8 monitors include resolution and multi-touch. The Acer T231H monitor I reviewed in the spring works great but it is not certified.

Most of the Windows Store apps are early products with limited feature sets, except SkyDrive which is a great cloud storage app. They are about the level of the crude applications Apple ships with the iPhone and iPad. Right now they seemed targeted at mobile users with laptop and desktop users heading back to their favourite Windows 7 programs.

Skydrive app tile SkyDrive

  • Search within SkyDrive
  • Rename and move folders and files
  • New first-run experience
  • Custom sort order
App tiles for Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging

  • Conversation view of your inbox
  • Complete IMAP account support
  • Accepting and declining invitations in email
  • Capturing and updating your account picture
  • Improved search
  • Search for a contact within the Messaging app
Photos app tile Photos

  • Crop and rotate photos
  • New auto-curated collage slideshows
  • View photos and videos on network locations in your Pictures Library such as Windows Home Server, network shares, and HomeGroups
  • Move through photos in your Pictures Library even when you open them from the desktop
Maps app tile Maps

  • Bird’s eye view
  • 3,000+ indoor venue maps
  • Driving directions hints
  • Improved navigation and layout
  • Improved customization, including custom pushpins and roaming options
  • Integration with Bing and Travel apps
Bing app tile Bing

  • Richer search results for local content and images
  • Bing rewards integration
  • Use zoom on your search results to see related queries
  • Use the file picker to select an image from Bing to use on your lock screen or in your other apps
Finance app tile Finance

  • Additional news and magazine content
  • More market exchanges enabled
  • Finance videos
News app tile News

  • Additional news content from partners such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal
  • Enhanced article reader, including font customization, zoom, pagination, and more
  • Improved offline reading experience
  • News videos
  • Slideshows
Sports app tile Sports

  • Additional news and magazine content
  • Sports videos
  • Slideshows
  • New soccer leagues, including MLS, J. League, and Brazilian League
Travel Travel

  • Additional news and magazine content
  • Improved flight search and new flight progress indicator
  • Improved hotel listing page
  • Interactive 360-degree panoramas (gyroscope supported)
Weather Weather

  • Improved default location usability
  • Hourly weather forecasts, up to 10 days
  • Day & evening high/low temperatures
Video Video

  • Purchasing in local currencies
  • Closed captioning
  • Search by actor or director
Music Music

  • Expanded music services
  • Rich “Now Playing” experience
  • Discover more music with SmartDJ
Games Games

  • Exciting new games
  • In-game purchasing
  • Invites and turn notifications

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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