Microsoft?s development of their Windows 8 operating system has reached a new level. At this point in time, the company is trying hard to satisfy the needs and improve on experience of both the business sphere and of the average user. Perhaps the worst thing for the company is the fact they are trying to pull it off at the moment where the PC market is being transformed ? and not in an overly gentle way.

Today the company held a keynote where they reiterated how important this system is for development and what it can offer for all partners involved. Additionally, they provided the first public demo of the 8.1 update, previously codenamed Blue. Earlier today, Microsoft even posted a YouTube video featuring Jensen Harris from the Windows User Experience Team:

The changes compared to the leaked early build(s) are astonishing ? and in a good way. Harris goes through some of the features, such as additional lock-screen choices and more live-tile variants. There are plenty of new customization options, ranging from the new color accents to responsive background animations. It is even possible to use the desktop wallpaper in order to bridge the appearance gap between it and the Metro Start screen. Important parts of the story include the swipe up gesture on the Start screen, which reveals the Apps listed by name, category, most used, or by date installed and the new Search system, which relies on the Bing to aggregate results in ?an app-like appearance.?

With that said, the addition of the start button is not even a highlight of the story ? nor should it be, as it performs the same function as the Windows icon found in the Charms menu. Still, on the desktop side of things it could add up to the bewilderment some users are already having with the Windows 8 UIX. At this point, however, the old Start Menu is truly obsolete for the most part.

Multitasking in Metro environment is significantly improved, as there are no restrictions to two apps in a particular aspect ratio. Windows 8.1 makes it possible to use up to four apps of varying size on one screen.

Addition of the Outlook 2013 RT for Windows RT in 8.1 is certainly a valid shot at the enterprise segment, but it?s doubtful that alone is a decisive factor. Worth noting is that there were no new RT devices announced whatsoever during Computex. Some sources claim that most of the partners are waiting for the new SoCs (namely, the Snapdragon 800) aside from the 8.1 version of the Windows RT OS. Curiously, Microsoft has decided to ship (a variant of the) Office in the box with new x86 tablets ? but only those under 10?. Thus far, only the Windows RT devices came with the preinstalled Office.

Both Windows RT and Windows 8 will receive the 8.1 (Blue) update later this year, with the preview version available on June 26 ? just in time for the Build conference where more details will certainly be communicated. It is difficult to be cantankerous towards an apparent effort from Redmond. They are trying to polish the system, if nothing else ? and they do seem to be on the right track of things in that regard. Windows Store ecosystem remains an afterthought, unfortunately. You can find more information on the official blog