Microsoft released Windows 8.1 online Thursday, making it possible for users to begin updating their computers to the company's latest operating system.
Windows 8.1 is the Redmond, Wash., company's first major update to Windows 8, a new version of the Windows operating system that was released last year. Windows 8 represented a major change for Microsoft, as it was designed and fine tuned for touchscreen devices.
Users who purchased Windows 8 can get Thursday's update online for free. Other users can also download the update but will have to pay. A DVD version of the operating system will also be available at retail stores Friday.
Users can get the standard version of Windows 8.1 for $119.99 or the Pro version for $199.99.
Windows 8.1 isn't a drastic change from last year's Windows 8, but the company has added quite a few new features and changes.
One of the most visible changes is the ability for users to customize their Start Screen backgrounds even more than before. Users can now arrange their apps on the Windows 8.1 with more tile sizes and use animated backgrounds and photos as their backgrounds -- they are no longer limited to using color backgrounds provided by Microsoft.
Microsoft has also improved multitasking on Windows 8.1. Previously, users could only have two apps running on the screen at the same time. Now, they can have up to four apps.
Another change is in the Windows Store, where users can download apps. Microsoft said it has redesigned the Windows Store, which now features a "New & Rising" section that highlights apps users might want to try.
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