Windows 8.1: What You Need To Know

As Microsoft Windows 8.1 approaches general availability in just a couple of weeks, consumers and channel partners both will need to clear the marketing chatter from the basics to understand a few fundamental things about this Windows newcomer.

Windows 8.1 is an update to Windows 8. Everyone knows that. Make note, too, that the Windows 8.1 update will be free and available by October 18 for those with computers activated with Windows 8. Those without Windows 8 will have to pay, and the prices start at $119.99 for the basic edition and $199.99 for the Pro edition.

But back to the good news. Retail copies will include a full license, meaning that not only Windows 7 users will be able to upgrade but also those with no previous Windows version installed. Even if you do not have Windows running on your machine, you can still get a Windows 8.1 installation.

As for differences between the basic and Pro editions, you pay extra for the Pro to get enterprise features. In the case of Windows 8.1, there will be business network features such as Workplace Join, where administrators can more easily manage desktops along with meaningful control of devices. Also, features include remote business data removal so businesses can have control over corporate content that cane be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then wiped when the relationship between the corporation and user has ended.

Mail Experience

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been continuing to peel off layers of its 8.1 debut news, showcasing each of the new apps that are bundled with Windows 8.1. The Redmond giant began its blog series a few weeks ago to announce new "experiences" to come with the release. On Thursday, Microsoft posted the latest news about the Mail app for Windows 8.1.

Think full integration with Outlook.com and...

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