New Windows 8.1 build reveals built-in tutorial and tips

Approaching the final version, the latest build offers a much-needed tutorial and more Start screen backgrounds.

The Windows 8.1 Preview.
The Windows 8.1 Preview. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft continues to tweak Windows 8.1 just in time for its official roll out to manufacturers by the end of August.

Recently leaked online, build 9471 is likely to be the last one before device makers receive the final RTM (Release to Manufacturing) build in the next few weeks. As such, it seems designed to ease some of the learning curves of its predecessor.

Taking a tour of the new release, the folks at The Verge discovered a new tutorial that was hinted at in the recent Windows 8.1 Preview. The Help + Tips app offers video clips to teach users how to maneuver around the various screens, launch files, and access Windows settings. Helpful tips also pop up within the built-in apps to show users how to swipe the screen and tap into the Charms bar.

New backgrounds are available for the Start screen -- one featuring a fire dragon and the other a moving robot. The items travel as you swipe or scroll across the screen to help you better keep track of your position.

Borrowing a page from Windows Phone, the latest build has a series of three dots in key apps, such as Mail, People, and Calendar. Those dots serve as a visual tip-off that more settings are available if you click on the dots. Some of the apps also have been spruced up, according to The Verge. Mail now allows users to open new multitasking windows and move items via drag and drop.

Finally, Skype comes preinstalled as part of Microsoft's effort to phase out Live Messenger and the Windows 8 Messaging app.

Windows 8.1 will be a free upgrade to Windows 8. Microsoft hasn't yet revealed when consumers will be able to download the new version.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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