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Windows 8 Metro apps freshen up for Release Preview

Several of Microsoft's Metro apps will sport changes when the Windows 8 Release Preview debuts next month, says The Verge.

A look at the updated Metro Photos app for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
A look at the updated Metro Photos app for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Microsoft is tweaking its core Metro apps for the upcoming Windows 8 Release Preview.

Already showing up in the newest internal builds of Windows 8, the updated apps offer new features, changes to the user interface, and the removal of the "app preview" title, says The Verge. Included in the revamp are the Windows 8 Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging app; the Photos App, the Music app, and the Microsoft Reader.

Some of the updates are floating about internally at Microsoft but are not available for the Windows 8 beta, aka Consumer Preview. Instead, Microsoft will unveil them all as part of the Windows 8 Release Preview.

But Windows Store preview pages of certain revised apps are now popping up online.

The updated Photos app displays a revamped start page with a full background photo and smaller thumbnails of your local library and your SkyDrive, Facebook, and Flickr albums. Release notes for the app posted yesterday say the update supports the latest Windows 8 changes.

Details for the Microsoft Reader published Monday note that the new version is for the Windows 8 Release Preview. The page for Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging offers up the same tidbit.

The move to enhance some of the Metro apps seen in the beta is certainly no surprise. The apps all came with the "app preview" designation, a tipoff that they weren't quite ready for prime time. Some of the apps in the beta also come across as clumsy and half-baked.

The Music app is difficult to use as it puts the focus more on Microsoft's Music Marketplace than on your own music library. I've never been able to get the Camera app to work correctly. And the Calendar app doesn't let you search for appointments, a key feature that I hope is added to the updated version.

Windows 8 has provoked strong and mixed reactions as a result of its focus on the Metro Start screen and Metro apps.

Microsoft needs to demonstrate the benefits of Metro apps in order to help convince PC users to take a dip into the new operating system.

We'll get a taste of the updated apps once the Windows 8 Release Preview appears in early June.