‘Near-final’ Windows 8.1 build leaked

Most organizations still aren’t sold on Windows 8, and many are waiting for the upcoming Windows 8.1 update before they make up their minds. A recently leaked build might show IT what to expect. 

The package, labelled Windows 8.1 Build 9471, is apparently a test version of the software that will be released to hardware manufacturers later this month. While it’s not complete, the leaked version is expected to be close to the final product, The Verge reports.

Many observers said Windows 8.1 was designed to fix a lot of the problems both consumers and enterprises have had with the original Windows 8. For example:

  • Windows 8.1 adds a Start button and allows users to bypass the new and unfamiliar tiled Start Screen and boot straight to the desktop
  • The update adds a menu displaying all of a user’s applications, which can be organized in a variety of ways, and
  • New security features and BYOD management tools should help companies protect their data.

In addition to those features, which were found in Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 preview, The Verge says the leaked build contains additional help for users trying to figure out how to get the most out of Windows 8.

The build contains a functional Help + Tips app, which was teased in the Windows 8.1 preview. That feature contains a range of video tutorials to help users navigate the OS, access basic settings and perform other important functions.

The OS’s built-in apps can now display tips to help users navigate that software. Those applications also include new menus, accessed by clicking a row of three dots, similar to Windows Phone apps.

Some problems remain

Despite the improvements over the much-maligned original Windows 8, the leaked build of Windows 8.1 has disappointed some observers.

For example, InfoWorld’s Woody Leonard pointed out some of the problems with the build:

  • The new search feature, called Smart Search, allows Microsoft to track what users search for locally on their machines. The feature can be turned off, but Leonard says Microsoft has made the option difficult to find.
  • The new File Explorer puts SkyDrive — Microsoft’s paid storage service — front and center. In Windows 8, Leonard says, SkyDrive only appeared if users explicitly installed the application for the service.
  • The Backup and Restore Center that was was present in Windows 7 and carried over to Windows 8 is no longer used in Windows 8.1, Leonard says.