Cheaper Windows 8 tabs, phones on the way as slew of new hardware partners announced

Microsoft confirm update for Windows 8.1 and WP8, and also announces a new line up of partners at the Mobile World Congress.  

Windows 8.1 is to get another tweak in ‘spring’ said Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore at Microsoft’s MWC 2014 press conference today, with the updates facilitating mouse users, especially.  

Microsoft’s touch-based 8.1 update includes: new mouse UI for right-click (start) and close apps; easy launching, switch via task bar; and discoverable search, power and settings on Start, according to reports from the event. 

Admitting some difficulties for traditional mouse and keyboard users, vice president of Microsoft Windows Phone, said:  
“Some of those touch affordances weren’t really tuned as well as we could do for those mouse and keyboard users.

“We found people weren’t aware of where they should look in the UI. Those are the things we’ve really started to improve for this update coming this spring.”

Microsoft have also lowered hardware spec requirements for PC makers – 8.1 will now work on devices with just 1GB RAM and 16GB storage, which should mean the touch based OS will be found on more affordable devices, meaning it is a serious competitor for cheap Android tablets.   

This, along with a rumored 70% price cut of 8.1 licences to OEM’s for tablet and PC devices below US$250, planned by Microsoft is also part of the 8.1 tweak, in a bid to get into the hearts and screens of PC’s, tablets, phone globally. 

And Microsoft are planning similar upgrades for Windows Phone 8 (WP8), Belfiore confirmed. 

Redmond are reducing the hard keys requirement and announcing a slew of new hardware partners such as Lenovo, Foxconn (the largest third party manufacturer in the world, Apple is a big client), and unheard of names like Gionee; Karbonn, Xolo and JSR Longcheer. 

Belfiore also told today’s press conference a lot of “vegetables” were eaten last year, as the software giant sought to improve touch-based mobile OS, reports The Register.

“There was a lot of blocking and tackling that needed to be done in WP for it to reach escape velocity,” said Microsoft’s Windows Phone boss.

“2013 was the year we ate our vegetables,” he admitted.  

“We love touch, we don’t want to degrade the touch experience, none of our work has a negative impact on touch experience … but we think we can improve it”.
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