Windows 8: Cortana assistant, universal apps and update 8.1 release date announced

By Stephany Nunneley
2 April 2014 19:08 GMT

Microsoft hosted a BUILD 2014 keynote today, in which the firm announced information on the latest Windows 8 update, as well as confirming the rumor that Windows Phone 8.1 supports a Halo-themed Cortana app offer voice control input like Apple’s Siri.

Granted, you won’t see her as the blue holographic lady like you do in Halo, sorry to disappoint.

Instead, the assistant is a circle you push to use and but you will still hear Jen Taylor’s voice when being replied to, so at least there’s that.

Universal Windows apps which will work across all Windows platforms and Xbox were also announced, which will allow those who purchase and app on a particular platform to access it on other devices. This will be accomplished thanks to an update to the Visual Studios 2013 development tools released for app makers.

At present, there are 400,000 combined apps in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store generating 14 million downloads per day.

Microsoft also detailed Windows 8.1 update which will arrive next week.

Along with new mouse and keyboard features, apps can now be pinned to the taskbar, which can be hidden, and to close any open apps, you will just mover your mouse to the top of the screen and click the X on the appearing title bar.

Basically, Microsoft has streamlined the context menus, making things simpler. There’s also a new power options menu in the top right.

OneDrive will also be released with update, and OEMs will include OneNote as well.

Internet Explorer has been tweaked and will show the address bar and tabs in the modern environment by default.

The Windows Store UI has been improved making it more mouse and keyboard friendly. Also, the Start Menu is coming back.

Those who are running Windows 7 or above will be able to run the latest version of Windows 8.1 which will only require 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

Microsoft will release 8.1 via Windows Update on April 8.

More information is available through Neowin. [1] which [2].

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

VG247 logo

Buy our t-shirts, yeah

They're far more stylish than your average video game website tat.

VG247 merch