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Windows 8.1 may make it easier to customize the Start screen

The latest Windows 8.1 build dims the Start screen to focus on a single app tile and offers a wider array of tile sizes, says blog site WinBeta.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Windows 8.1 will add new features to help you customize the Start screen -- at least it allegedly will, based on tidbits from the latest build.

The Windows 8.1 Pro Preview build 9374 recently leaked dims the entire Start screen when you click or tap on the Customize button, according to WinBeta. Selecting a specific app tile then turns its light back on, allowing you to modify that specific tile. The goal is to focus the attention just on the tile or tiles that you're tweaking.

Based on the new build, Windows 8.1 also will offer a wider variety of tile sizes: large, standard, wide, or small. Windows 8 currently limits tile sizes to either square or rectangular. Finally, WinBeta says that the latest build lets you more easily edit named groups of your app tiles, though it didn't specify exactly how the new editing process works.

Yet another improvement uncovered by WinBeta is a smaller search pane. Triggering the Search charm in Windows 8 opens a full-screen search page, obscuring and interrupting your current app or screen. The new build shows a much thinner search pane that leaves most of the space for your current screen.

The Windows 8.1 builds so far show that Microsoft is adding small but useful tweaks here and there. Collectively, those tweaks are designed to make the update to Windows 8 more customizable and user friendly.

Recent rumors have suggested that Microsoft may add a Start button and boot to desktop option in Windows 8.1, which many Windows 8 users would undoubtedly consider a truly user-friendly move. But the builds don't yet show any sign of such features.

Microsoft will reportedly unveil a Windows 8.1 public preview during its Build conference in late June and then release the final product later this year.