Microsoft promises major Windows 8 app improvements before Oct 26 launch

Windows clouudsMicrosoft has taken some flak for the purported condition of Windows 8 in recent weeks; Intel and Redmond tangled on the topic last week in a bit of corporate he-said/she-said. A new blog post from the Building Windows 8 team indirectly addresses some of the concerns potential W8 adopters might have in the wake of the public spat, by promising a number of updates will be delivered between now and launch day.

According to Gabriel Aul, new updates will start rolling out today with an improved Bing app, but that’s just the beginning. After Bing, Microsoft is rolling out improvements to SkyDrive, Mail, Photos, Maps, its News service, and a number of others.
The full list of app changes is available on the BW8 blog. We’ve put together a some of the highlights and most important differences below:
MS updates
One of the most significant deficiencies of the current Mail client in Windows 8 is that it lacks support for POP or IMAP. Microsoft apparently doesn’t plan to support POP at all, but IMAP, at least, is coming before launch day. Other changes are clearly intended to improve Metro functionality (Windows Photo) and simplify switching between the Window 8-style UI (Metro) and Desktop. Content pagination and zoom levels are other areas where Windows 8 has been measured and found wanting; these updates will hopefully solve some of the ongoing problems.
Closed caption support, meanwhile, might seem like a low-priority issue, but it’s actually a major concern for the hearing impaired. The FCC ruled earlier this year that broadcasters had to begin including closed caption support in streaming video; Windows 8 support is an important step to making such capability ubiquitous.
Other improvements are less clear. “Improved offline reading experience” and “rich ‘now playing’ experience” don’t tell us much about the new features or what users can expect. Integrating content from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal will improve the range of information “News” presents, but we’ll be curious to see how Windows 8 treats the NYT’s 10-article-a-month preview option and the WSJ’s paywall.
Part of noteworthy here is how Redmond has successfully changed updates from something it delivers to a monolithic OS to fix security issues into targeted features and bug fixes that expand application capability. To be sure, some of that expanded capability is being put towards things Windows 8 should’ve done before it went RTM — but applying continuous improvements on an app level lets the company talk about new features far more effectively than the standard Windows Update screen.
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