Ina Fried

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Windows 8.1 Will Feature More Bing, More Personalization and a Boot-to-Desktop Option

With a forthcoming update, Microsoft will improve on the Windows 8 start screen while also offering up a new option to bypass the tile interface and boot directly to the traditional desktop.

Windows 8.1 start screen

Windows 8.1, due out later this year, will offer new options to personalize the lock and home screens, more deeply integrated Bing search as well as a new version of the Internet Explorer browser. Files can also be saved to Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service.

Microsoft has been dribbling out details about the free update, previously code-named Windows Blue, since early this year. A preview version is due next month at Microsoft’s Build developer conference.

Although Microsoft has sold more than 100 million licenses for Windows 8, the operating system has come in for a fair share of criticism for its steep learning curve and failure to reignite the PC market.

Windows 8 is the company’s huge bet to transition its desktop operating system into software that can power everything from small tablets to giant, multi-screen computers using both touch input as well as keyboard and mouse. The company bills it as a no-compromise solution, but critics say it offers the best of neither world.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald