Windows 8.1: The Five Most Exciting New Features

Microsoft has rolled out some serious tweaks to Windows 8. Some of them are off-beat, some of them are desperately needed… but these five are the best.

Native 3D Printer Support (!)

Here’s a first: Windows 8.1 will have native support for 3D printers. No intermediary programs needed; just plug in most 3D printers and it will, in theory, be as simple as clicking “Print.” It’s not the most earth-shaking decision but it’s pretty unique, and certainly attention-getting.

Boot To Desktop

Yep, Metro is now, thankfully, optional. And not a moment too soon. The Start button also returns, but it’ll just take you to Windows 8’s Start screen; no pop-up menu for you!

SkyDrive Gets An Overhaul

SkyDrive is something you might actually use now: Not only can you decide to view a file either locally or from SkyDrive, SkyDrive will also tell you exactly where a file is saved. That last alone is going to make using this function a lot easier. And if you get a chance, developers, try it for yourself and let us know what you think.

Apps Get APIs

Microsoft very, very much wants apps on the platform to be as customizable as possible for developers, so they’re putting out a range of APIs to do just that. What they are is an open question, but anything that makes apps easier to use is welcome.

Universal Search

One term pulls results from the web, your documents, and anything else your computer is connected to. It might need some major tweaking to be effective, but that’s going to be handy.

Overall, Windows 8.1 is an overhaul. It may not make the operating system great, but it seems to address a lot of problems users had with the original version, and it shows Microsoft is interested in some odd areas. Mostly we’ll be curious to see how the 3D printing comes together; the native support is a bold step.