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Microsoft video preview shows Windows 8.1 tablet UI options

Tiny tiles and pretty personalization tools

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Video Microsoft has had a lot to say about the forthcoming Windows 8.1 update, both in its blogs and at conferences like TechEd and Computex, and now it's gone ahead and posted a five-minute video tour so that we can see some of the new features in action.

The video, which we've embedded below, is hosted by Jensen Harris of Microsoft's Windows user experience team. It deals mostly with the tablet-centric features of the OS, such as the new lock-screen slideshow and the new Live Tile sizes on the Start screen.

Of particular interest are Harris' demos of the improved Apps view, the new semi-animated backgrounds for the Start screen, and enhanced multitasking of Windows Store apps (which Harris says you can now do with "three or even four" apps).

Unfortunately, most of what's on display here feels mainly cosmetic. We do get a brief glimpse of the restored Start button at around 2:12, but by now we know that it's no big deal, and Harris doesn't bother to demo any changes to the desktop environment (if there are any).

Harris closes out his demo by confirming something else we already knew, which is that the Windows 8.1 Preview will be made available to all Windows 8 and Windows RT users on June 26, the first day of Microsoft's Build developer conference in San Francisco.

Not the Start button and boot-to-desktop you were hoping for

According to Redmond-watcher Mary Jo Foley, users will receive a notification that the update is available via Windows Update, which will then take them to the Windows Store for the actual download.

Watch out, though – Foley says the Preview version of the update will be different enough from the final version that you'll need to reinstall all of your apps when you eventually migrate from the Preview to the shipping release (although your files and other data will be preserved). Users who stick with plain Windows 8 until the final version of Windows 8.1 arrives won't need to reinstall their apps. ®

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