12 Dec 2013
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Microsoft NZ: Windows 8.1 reaches over 130,000 apps

"It's growing fast!" says Dean Edwards, Windows Business Group Manager for Microsoft New Zealand, when discussing the Windows Store on the revamped Windows 8.1.

With the updated operated system entering the world via New Zealand on October 18, Redmond's latest offering is gaining in popularity.

Taking time out from his busy schedule, Edwards sat down with Techday.com for a detailed run-through of Windows 8.1, highlighting why consumers should get on board as the holiday season approaches.

In terms of Skype, what new connectivity features are available on Windows 8.1?

In Windows 8.1, Skype is a built-in app – available straight from the Start Screen. With Skype built-in, you’ll never miss a message.

Now, not only will you be able to view your missed calls and instant messages, but you can answer calls directly from your lock screen.

And on the Start screen, you’ll be able to choose how you want to respond, whether answer a call with video, audio or decline and send an IM instead.

What are the key improvements made within the Windows App Store?

The Windows Store has received a major update in Windows 8.1. From the Start Screen the new Windows Store provides a live tile and can now be sized as “large”. The tile itself will be able to display new releases, and special deals on apps.

Upon opening the Windows Store in Windows 8.1, you will also discover a selection of scrolling apps on the left hand side.

These listed applications are a collection of featured apps that will show what is currently trending within the store, new applications that have been recently published and are gaining traction, top paid apps, top free apps, and lastly, personalized recommendations based on your previous purchases.

If the Store recommends something to you that you don’t like, you can even choose the “Not Interested” option and improve your experience.

Navigating the store has also become easier. Simply swipe down to access a list of categories to browse by. Want to just browse Games or Sports apps? No problem.

In addition, a home button will always be available when swiping down, this creates a fast way to get back to the main screen without hitting the back button repeatedly.

And lastly, the search within the app store now includes a smart search box that will automatically begin to list applications as you type.

How many apps does Windows now provide users?

There are now over 130,000 apps in the Windows Store, and growing fast!

Windows 8.1 boasts built-in device encryption - what other security features have been incorporated into the operating system? And why should users now feel more secure with their personal details and data?

Windows 8.1 offers a full spectrum of new and improved security capabilities – from features that enable devices to be fully locked down by IT, to remote security options for BYOD devices, to safeguards for personal devices that need to access business resources from home.

Particular new security features to highlight include:

- Improved biometric support to better enable fingerprint passwords

- Improving Windows Defender to better detect certain bad behaviors in memory, the registry, or the file system and better protect against malware

- Adding new capabilities to Internet Explorer 11 to better detect malicious websites, and provide safer internet browsing

How does the array of Windows 8.1 hardware devices now available compliment the revamped OS?

Increasingly, modern hardware is touch-enabled, allowing the full benefits of the Windows 8.1 operating system to shine through, and allowing a choice of input methods – touch, mouse, keyboard, stylus.

In addition, Windows 8.1 provides improved support for portrait mode – now pervasive across the OS and in in-built apps. Portrait mode makes consuming and reading content much better in Windows 8.1, and has opened the door to a new range of 7 and 8 inch Windows tablets.

Windows 8.1 represents a new era of devices and experiences that were never possible before – a PC that looks and plays like a tablet, or a tablet that can work like a PC. We’re giving customers a tablet experience without having them give up functionalities or features that are currently available in traditional laptop/desktop form factors.

If you could sum up the Windows 8.1 experience for consumers in one sentence, what would it be?

Windows 8.1 is Windows 8 made better, with major improvements in personalization, Search, in-built apps from Microsoft, the Windows Store, app multi-tasking, and the return of the Start Button!

To read the first part of Dean Edwards exclusive interview with Techday, click here

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