Leaked Build Indicates Changes Ahead for Windows 8.1

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A leaked build of Windows 8.1 shows changes from the Preview edition which seem likely to appear in the final release of Microsoft’s new OS, including new video tutorials, wallpapers, a revamped Mail app, and more.

Build 9471 is a test version of the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) build slated to be issued to PC makers later this month.

The video tutorials are part of a new Metro Help & Tips app which, while present in the Preview, hasn’t been functional.

Help & Tips

As it appears in Build 9471, Help & Tips includes six separate sections: Start and apps; Get around; Basic actions; Your account and files; and Settings. Animations are provided, too.

Also to make it easier to navigate the OS, Microsoft has made some changes to the UI. Through a new row of three dots, users can bring up an application bar for changing the settings in Mail, Calendar, and People.

New Mail, Calendar & People Apps

In addition, Microsoft has tweaked all three of these apps, delivering on a promise made at the recent BUILD Conference that all of Windows 8.1’s built-in apps will either be redesigned or brand new.

The new Mail app, highlighted at BUILD, has a “power panel” on the left hand side of the viewing pane that lets you organize messages by categories such as “social” and “newsletters.”

At the bottom of the panel, there are now ellipses which can be used for accessing an App Bar for Mail.

Also with the new Mail app, you can now drag and drop messages into folders.

The new Calendar app adds a “What’s Next?” view for taking a quick glance at your appointments for the next day.

Also within the built-in apps, Microsoft includes tips about swiping and accessing charms.

Other Changes Afoot

New apps such as Food & Drink and Health & Fitness have also made it into Build 9471. Food & Drink is aimed at letting you work in the kitchen in hands-free mode by using the camera to flip the pages without touching the screen.

Also as previewed at BUILD, SkyDrive is now completely integrated with the Photos app. Facebook and Flickr are absent, however.

In addition, Skype is now pre-installed.

The new wallpapers in Build 9471 include the “dragon” wallpaper demo’d at BUILD, along with wallpapers with fish, flower, and other nature themes.

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