If you’ve used the final version of Windows 8, you know that the built-in apps, while pretty good, are somewhat limited in functionality. Microsoft plans to rectify this – as I knew they would – before the big launch on October 26 by releasing new updates for sixteen essential apps, including Mail, Games, and Music. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait until the big day to get these updates, as they’ll begin rolling out tomorrow, starting with the Bing app.
While we don’t have a full change log, Microsoft has provided us with a few highlights of what we’ll find in the updates:
SkyDrive: Search within SkyDrive, rename and move folders and files, a new first-run experience, and custom sort order.
Mail, Calendar, People, and Messaging: Conversation view of your inbox, complete IMAP account support, accepting and declining invitations in email, capturing and updating your account picture, improved search, and search for a contact within the Messaging app.
Photos: Crop and rotate photos; new auto-curated collage slideshows; view photos and videos on network locations in your Pictures Library such as Windows Home Server, network shares, and HomeGroups; and move through photos in your Pictures Library even when you open them from the desktop.
Maps: Bird’s eye view; 3,000+ indoor venue maps; driving directions hints; improved navigation and layout; improved customization, including custom pushpins and roaming options; and integration with Bing and Travel apps.
Bing: Richer search results for local content and images, Bing Rewards integration, use zoom on your search results to see related queries, and use the file picker to select an image from Bing to use on your lock screen or in your other apps.
Finance: Additional news and magazine content, more market exchanges enabled, and finance videos.
News: Additional news content from partners such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal; enhanced article reader, including font customization, zoom, pagination, and more; improved offline reading experience; news videos; and slideshows.
Sports: Additional news and magazine content; sports videos; slideshows; and new soccer leagues, including MLS, J. League, and Brazilian League.
Travel: Additional news and magazine content, improved flight search and new flight progress indicator, improved hotel listing page, and interactive 360-degree panoramas (gyroscope supported).
Weather: Improved default location usability, hourly weather forecasts, and up to 10 days and day & evening high/low temperatures.
Video: Purchasing in local currencies, closed captioning, and search by actor or director.
Music: Expanded music services, a rich “Now Playing” experience, and discover more music with SmartDJ.
Games: Exciting new games, in-game purchasing, and invites and turn notifications.
I’ve been hoping Microsoft would add many of these features for some time now, so it’s great to see things like complete IMAP support, expanded music services (an ad-supported Xbox Music Pass, a cloud music collection, and SkyDrive support?), and Bing Rewards integration included in the updates.[Building Windows 8]