- The desktop you're used to - with its familiar folders and icons—is still here. And not just still here, it's actually better than before, with a new task manager and streamlined file management. And you can always get to your desktop—and back to your Start screen again—with a tap or click.
- Use them the way you always have. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other programs you count on work the way you're used to. Use a mouse and keyboard and organize your stuff in folders on the desktop.
- Windows Defender and Windows SmartScreen can help guard your PC against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software in real time. Family Safety gives your kids some independence while still keeping tabs on them.
- You can use a mouse and keyboard to work on your Windows desktop the way you always have. And things you do with touch, like using apps from the Windows Store and getting around on your Start screen, can also be done with a mouse and keyboard.
- When you're working on the familiar desktop, all apps you've opened will appear in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen. This includes both apps you opened from the desktop and apps from the Windows Store you opened from your Start screen.
- Photos, news from friends, your favorite apps and sites—put what's most important to you on your Start screen. Choose your colors and move stuff around until it's just the way you like it.
- Your favorite apps, sites, and people: Make each one a tile you can resize, move around, and organize the way you want. Some tiles animate with the latest information so you see live updates at a glance. Get status updates, weather forecasts, and Tweets as soon as you sign in.
- Your lock screen displays a slide show of your favorite photos. Plus, you can answer Skype calls, and take photos before you even unlock your PC.
- Instead of typing a password, you can unlock your PC by drawing shapes on a picture with your finger or mouse. Three taps or clicks on your dog's nose? Tracing the smile of your toddler? The choice is yours.
- Windows 8.1 lets you work the way you want. Move easily from one thing to another by multitasking on any Windows PC or tablet. Pull up a Wikipedia article to settle a debate with the friend you're on Skype with. Or play a music video while polishing your resume. Depending on your screen size, you can see up to four apps at once.
- Bing Smart Search gives you results from your PC, your apps, and the web. Results are in a clean, graphic view that lets you do things and launch apps right away. Find a song and start playing it, or find a video and watch it right away.
Your Windows, everywhere
It goes where you go: Use your Microsoft account to sign in to any of your tablets or PCs running Windows 8.1, and you'll see the same layout, apps, and settings. Signing in with your Microsoft Account (which is simply an email address and password of your choice) also gives you access to a world of apps from the Windows Store, and lets you save, view, and edit your documents and photos online with OneDrive
- OneDrive - OneDrive is free online storage that's built into Windows 8.1. Save documents, photos and other files to OneDrive automatically, and get to them anytime, from any of your PCs or devices. You can also use OneDrive to protect your files if something happens to your PC. And you can use OneDrive to share and collaborate with others, and see your stuff on mobile and non-Windows devices.
- Internet Explorer 11 - IE11 is built for touch—now with larger tabs, simpler controls, and fluid response to gestures. Internet Explorer harnesses the power of hardware acceleration, so sites load faster and browsing’s smoother.
- Skype - Video, voice, and instant messaging. The always-on app that makes staying in touch with all your contacts easier than ever. Keep in touch with video and voice calls and instant messaging, all from one app. Call any phone quickly and easily. All Skype-to-Skype video and voice calls are free, and your messages are delivered straight to you no matter what you're doing. Snap Skype left or right and do more while you IM, video call or keep an eye on your home screen.
- Windows Store - Load up on apps. Open the Windows Store right from your Start screen to browse and download apps for cooking, photos, sports, news, and a lot more—many of them free. Sort by price, rating, and category. Find old favorites and hot new apps.
- Basic - Windows 8.1 Basic Edition (or just Windows 8.1) is intended for home users. This version includes the core features, but none of the business features. Basic Edition is great for those general consumers (mother, grandmother, father, step-uncle, far removed cousin).
- Pro - Windows 8.1 Pro is the operating system intended for small and medium-sized businesses. It provides abilities such as joining corporate domains, participating in Group Policy, allowing involvement in Work Place Join and Work Folders, encryption and more. You can find a good list of business features in the The IT Guide to Windows 8.1. Note that some of the new business features in Windows 8.1 Pro require a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 somewhere in the organization.
- Enterprise - Windows 8.1 Enterprise is the version that brings business premium features to Windows. Available through Windows Software Assurance, Windows 8.1 Enterprise includes all of the same features of Windows 8.1 Pro and then adds things like Windows To Go, DirectAccess, BranchCache, AppLocker, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and Windows 8 app deployment.
- Processor: 1GHz or faster
- RAM: 1GB (32bit) or 2GB (64bit)
- Hard disk space: 16GB (32bit) or 20GB (64bit)
- Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device or higher