Microsoft has finally released Windows 8.1 to the public and it’s available as a free update to all existing Windows 8 users. If you have upgraded to Windows 8.1 or planning to upgrade to Windows 8.1 in near feature, check out the 50 best features introduced with Windows 8.1.
The Start button: Microsoft has restored the Start button in Windows 8 to help users quickly switch to the Start screen. Right-click on the Start button to see Power User Menu (Windows + X menu) containing shut down, restart and a couple of other options.
Set desktop background as Start screen background: 8.1 comes with an option that lets you automatically set desktop background picture as Start screen background. When you change the desktop background, Windows automatically applies the new picture to the Start screen background.
Use lock screen as picture frame: The lock screen can now be used as a picture frame to showcase your pictures from local drives as well as your SkyDrive.
Small tiles on Start screen: Start screen now lets you have tiny app tiles.
Extra large tiles on Start screen: Some tiles on the Start screen such as Desktop and Weather tiles support extra large size.
Option to disable Charms: An option is present under Taskbar and navigation settings to disable the Charms that appear when you move the mouse cursor to the upper or lower right-corner of the screen.
Shutdown and restart options in Win + X menu: In Windows 8.1, you don’t need to open the Settings charm to access shut down and restart options. Simply press Windows + X keys or right-click on the Start button to to see shutdown and restart options.
New PC Settings: The PC Settings or the modern Control Panel has been updated with plenty of new settings. Most of the settings that are present under the old Control Panel are now available in PC Settings as well.
Internet Explorer 11: This update ships with the newest version of Internet Explorer.
Motion picture as Start screen background: The Start screen now supports and comes with a motion picture as background by default.
Uninstall apps from multiple PCs: If you’re using the same Microsoft account on all of your PCs, you can now uninstall apps from all of your PC from at once.
New SkyDrive app: The updated SkyDrive app lets you easily browse and manage files in your SkyDrive account.
Slide to shut down: Slide to shut down is one of the hidden features present in Windows 8.1. As the name suggests, you can use this feature to shut down your PC with a touch gesture or a simple drag. Follow our how to use slide to shut down feature for detailed instructions on using the feature.
Resize apps: You can now resize apps to nearly infinite sizes, just like desktop programs.
All apps on Start: Simply click the Down arrow button or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see all installed apps.
Highlights newly installed apps: The Start screen now highlights newly installed apps to help you easily access them.
Boot to desktop: When this option is enabled, Windows 8.1 boots directly to the desktop, skipping the Start screen.
Start screen sync: This feature lets you sync Start screen layout and settings with other Windows 8 PCs signed-in using the same Microsoft account.
Download Manager in IE11 Metro: The modern version of Internet Explorer 11 includes a download manager which can be accessed using Control + J hotkey.
New Start screen patterns: Windows 8.1 includes new Start screen patters and backgrounds, including animated ones.
Native support for touchpad gestures: Unlike Windows 8, Windows 8.1 doesn’t require you install drivers to enable supported touchpad gestures. All touchpad gestures are supported out of the box.
Assigned access: Available in Windows 8.1 RT, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 Enterprise, it lets you enable a single Windows Store app experience on your PC or tablet.
Sync tabs in IE11: Internet Explorer 11 supports syncing tabs across multiple Windows 8.1 PCs. You need to sign-in with your Microsoft account to use this feature.
Updated Windows Store: The updated Windows Store is now has close to 1,00,000 apps.
Network behavior monitoring: Windows Defender now comes with network behavior monitoring feature to provide better protection to your PC.
Internet sharing options: You can easily share your mobile broadband Internet connection with other people. They will need the password and network name to connect.
Reading list feature: Snap view now supports up to three apps: You can now place up to three modern apps side-by-side on each screen.
Multi-monitor support for apps: Modern apps now fully support multi-monitor setup.
Automatic updates of Modern apps: Windows 8.1 automatically checks and updates all modern apps installed from the Store and requires no manual intervention.
Outlook app for Windows RT: This update brings Outlook 2013 RT app to Windows RT.
Multi-instance support: You can now have multiple instances of a Modern app.
Powerful search: In addition to local files, the Search in Windows 8 brings results from your SkyDrive as well as Bing.
Alarms app: Windows 8.1 ships with a beautiful Alarm app.
Uninstall multiple apps at once: You can now select multiple apps at once on the Start screen and uninstall all of them at once.
Calculator app: In addition to the Calculator program, Windows 8.1 includes a Modern version of Calculator app as well.
Scan app: A free app for basic scanning of documents and pictures, requires a scanner.
Food and Drink app: A free app to search for food and drink. It also lets you manage your recipe, plan your meals, and shopping list.
Help & Tips app: This app provides help and tips to use Windows 8.1 and its features.
Reading List: Available only for the Modern UI version of Internet Explorer, this feature is similar to Read Later apps. Useful for tablet users who use Modern UI Internet Explorer to browse the web.
Sound Recorder: As the name suggests, a handy sound recording app for Windows 8.1
Health and Fitness: One of the most useful apps included in Windows 8.1. In addition to health and fitness tips, it also allows you health and exercise trackers.
Use camera from lock screen: Lets you access camera right from lock screen even if your PC is locked.
Set removable device as default save location: The feature lets you configure Windows 8.1 always save files to a removable drive by default.
View SkyDrive storage space: You no longer need to open up your SkyDrive account page to view used and available space in your SkyDrive account as you can view the same right in PC Settings.
Save files to SkyDrive account by default: When this feature is enabled, Windows 8.1 lets you save files to your SkyDrive account by default, rather than Documents folder.
Quiet hours: You can use this feature to stop app notification during certain hours of the day.
In addition to above mentioned features, there are a couple of features designed specially for business people. Do let us know which is your favorite Windows 8.1 feature in comments.