These are six of the new features in the Windows 8 Release Preview:
1. New Apps: New Microsoft apps in Release Preview include Sports, Travel, and News, all three of which make good use of photos and information from Bing. New apps for Release Preview include the Financial Times, Box, Major League Soccer, and Fruit Ninja. All of the apps in this preview version of the Windows Store are free.
2. New App capabilities: The new and updated apps make use of several Windows Metro interface features. You could always pin an app to the Start screen as a tile from which you could launch the app and see live updated info. But now you can pin subsections from within an app, too. For example, the Mail app now lets you pin a particular inbox – if you use the app to view a Hotmail and a Gmail account, for example. Likewise, the Sports app lets you pin a particular team, and the Finance app a particular stock symbol.
3. Updated Windows Store: Windows 8 is starting to take hold in the developer community, and particularly among major software houses. The Windows Store itself has undergone some tweaks (details available in the Windows Store Blog). Desktop apps, as well as Metro apps, can now appear in the Store, but you still have to obtain the desktop apps directly from their publishers via a link.
App pages in the Store show an app bar when you swipe or right click, with options for easily returning to the home page and seeing your purchased apps. Pause and Cancel options are now available from the Install page, and you can now share info about apps using the Share charm.
4. Flash in the Metro Web browser: This one comes with a caveat: You don’t get full Flash capability in the Metro interface’s Internet Explorer, and you don’t get it for all sites. Microsoft worked with Adobe to create a subset of Flash 11.3, and only sites on an approved list will be able to use Flash. But the desktop flavor of Internet Explorer offers full Flash functionality.
5. Multi-Monitor Support: Though only a minority of PC users take advantage of multi-monitor setups, those who do find it indispensable. Windows 8 enables new, appealing multi-monitor options not available in Windows 7. Perhaps most useful is the ability to have the Taskbar show up on more than one screen, with the option to just show the taskbar buttons of apps running on the screen at hand. You can move Metro and Desktop apps between screens, and now one wide desktop wallpaper can span multiple monitors.
6. Upgrade Pricing for Windows 7: Not quite a feature of Release Preview, this bit of news arrived together with the OS version. Anyone who purchases a Windows 7 PC between June 2 and Jan. 31, 2013, will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for just $14.99.
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