The Building Windows 8 blog has detailed lots of app updates that will be pushed out in the run up to general availability (GA) of the new Microsoft OS. Steven Sinofsky wrote “Across Microsoft we’ve been busy since August adding new features and improving the apps that come with Windows and will be updating these apps before GA. We’ll introduce new features, improve performance, and increase reliability.” The apps are easy to update, you will see a notification on the Windows Store icon on the Start screen as and when the updated apps are rolled out.
The first built in app update is for the Bing app, scheduled for today. All the other updates should be rolled out before GA on 26th October. The Building Windows 8 blog says that the updated apps will be made available for PC makers to include, by default, in their new PCs.
What apps are updated?
If you are going to use Windows 8 these may well be the apps you use more than any others, so it’s important that they are slick, work well and have the features people want. Let us take a look through the updates and improvements on offer in these built-in default apps...
The Bing app will offer “richer search results” including location based results and images. Also zooming into search results will reveal related queries. If you don’t like the, usually appealing, range of picture backdrops used by Bing then you will be able to choose your own. Finally, for our US cousins, there will be Bing rewards integration too.
The Mail, Calendar, People and Messaging apps will show a conversation view of your inbox. There will be improved search functions within these apps too. Also, important to many people there will be “complete IMAP support” in the updated Mail app.
Another app with what seems to be major improvements is the Maps app. Maps will have “a bird's eye view, 3,000+ indoor venue maps, driving directions hints, improved navigation and layout, improved customization including custom pushpins and roaming options, integration with Bing and Travel apps.” The indoor venue maps sounds particularly interesting; hopefully it will include plenty of UK places and not just be a US-centric improvement.
Many many other built-in apps also have tweaks and improvements coming up shortly including SkyDrive, Photos, Finance, News, Sports, Travel, Weather, Video, Music and Games apps. If you are interested in particular improvements to these apps have a look over at the Microsoft blog post for further details.
These are welcome updates which will add polish to Windows 8 before GA and lots of consumers getting the new OS on their shiny new desktops, laptops and tablets. Meanwhile Microsoft may be fretting a little bit about getting more third party apps into the Windows Store before 26th October.