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Precision touchpad improvements
Three new touchpad settings will be introduced: leave touchpad on when a mouse is connected, allow right-clicks on the touchpad, and double-tap and drag. You might wonder why these settings are considered new because your touchpad probably already supports these features. Most laptop vendors have their own touchpad tools where you can configure these settings. Thus, I guess only users of older laptops will benefit from an integration with the Windows Control Panel. Perhaps it is also an interesting feature for Chromebook users who want to switch to Windows.
Miracast is a standard that allows you to project video and audio via Wi-Fi Direct connections from one device to another. The new features will add APIs to Windows 8.1 that developers can use to turn your PC into a Miracast receiver. For instance, this would enable you to project a video from your phone to your PC screen. I have been doing this recently with my Android phone and a TV, and I think this is a pretty cool feature. I guess it won’t take long for the corresponding Windows 8.1 applications to be available.
Minimizing login prompts for SharePoint Online
This appears to be a fix rather than a new feature. It seems the “keep me signed in” feature of SharePoint Online didn’t work properly in federated environments (on-premises AD account is synced with Office 365).
Yes, these are not breathtaking new features. I somehow think the main purpose of this update is that Microsoft wants to demonstrate that it really will add new features to Windows more frequently than in the past. Many organizations are used to “upgrading” Windows only every 5 to 15 years. These times are over. 5 to 15 months is now more realistically.
I think Microsoft should make this new paradigm more evident by introducing a new versioning scheme. This would have an enormous psychological effect on conservative IT departments. According to my reckoning, Microsoft is about to release Windows 8.12.
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I also think Microsoft should give up the different branding of the client and the server version. Why not just call Windows Server 2012 R2 “Windows 8.1 Server”? I mean, what should we call a Windows server that has the new updates installed? “Windows Server 2012 R2 August updates”?