What does Windows 8.1 mean to devs and designers?

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OK so now the dust has settled on the last big developer events from Microsoft, //Build and TechEd Europe 2013, looking past some of the attention grabbing headlines, what do the changes mean to devs and designers?

Here's what you might find useful to know with Windows 8.1:

With Windows 8.1 Preview, there are now more ways to resize apps, with new Windowing modes. Users can now resize apps continuously down to a minimum width. (The default minimum width of an app is 500 pixels.).This means apps no longer have the snapped and fill view states.

Instead, you develop your app to be functional and good-looking at any size down to the minimum. There also changes to tiles and the way you work with them - there are now four tiles rather than just the two in Windows 8.

The Windows Store has been completely redesigned, and has a new look and feel. We've created new and updated page types which improve the way your app is displayed to potential downloaders.

The Windows Store homepage features a brand-new design, with more apps visible when the Store is launched. There's also an updated product description page, with a different layout displaying information during a purchase, after a purchase and an entry point to discover new apps.

Customers have the freedom to purchase apps at bricks and mortar shops or e-commerce sites. They can pay using Windows Store gift cards carrying a redeemable code, or use a code on its own. They can also send a specified amount of Windows Store credit as a gift, or store any redeemed credit to spend when at a future point.

Windows 8.1 has over 5,000 new API's . Ones to watch out for include:

- Updates to the tools and templates you use to create Windows Store apps. For example, we provide support for migrating your Windows 8 app to Windows 8.1 Preview.

- Improved diagnostics, JavaScript editor, HTML and XAML design tools and controls. If you're using C++, you'll also see improvements.

- New app bundles that make submitting your app simpler than ever before. Resource packs allow you to offer extras, such as localisation assets for high-resolution displays.

- A new scheduler API that allows you to set the priority of tasks and manage jobs, so you can write apps more efficiently and provide a more responsive experience to users.

The Visual Studio 2013 Preview also has a number of new features, including:

A tool for mobile devs that lets you see how network and battery-efficient an app is. We know battery life is of prime importance to device owners, and an Energy Consumption Tool allows you to estimate how much power an app is likely to consume.

Productivity tools save time when working inside the editor, and are the result of feedback you gave us through user voice requests forum posts and Connect bugs. So it's thanks to you that we now have Peek Definition, an enhanced scrollbar and Navigate To.

Great UK development

The conferences highlighted some of the great work developers have been doing since the release of Windows 8. UI Centric published a Great British Chefs app, as well as six other Time Out apps designed to help users navigate cities around the globe. Facebook and Flipboard will also have new Windows apps to come, built with the aim of reaching a wide audience.

Take a look at the Windows 8.1 preview, play around with it and let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @ubelly

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