The desktop you're used to—with its familiar folders and icons—is still here. And not just still here, it's actually better than before, with a new task manager and streamlined file management. And you can always get to your desktop—and back to your Start screen again—with a tap or click.
Use them the way you always have. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other programs you count on work the way you're used to. Use a mouse and keyboard and organize your stuff in folders on the desktop.
Windows Defender and Windows SmartScreen can help guard your PC against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software in real time. Family Safety gives your kids some independence while still keeping tabs on them.
You can use a mouse and keyboard to work on your Windows desktop the way you always have. And things you do with touch, like using apps from the Windows Store and getting around on your Start screen, can also be done with a mouse and keyboard.
When you're working on the familiar desktop, all apps you've opened will appear in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen. This includes both apps you opened from the desktop and apps from the Windows Store you opened from your Start screen.
Photos, news from friends, your favorite apps and sites—put what's most important to you on your Start screen. Choose your colors and move stuff around until it's just the way you like it.
More about the Start screen
Your favorite apps, sites, and people: Make each one a tile you can resize, move around, and organize the way you want. Some tiles animate with the latest information so you see live updates at a glance. Get status updates, weather forecasts, and Tweets as soon as you sign in.
More about tiles
Your lock screen displays a slide show of your favorite photos. Plus, you can answer Skype calls, and take photos before you even unlock your PC.
More about the lock screen
Instead of typing a password, you can unlock your PC by drawing shapes on a picture with your finger or mouse. Three taps or clicks on your dog's nose? Tracing the smile of your toddler? The choice is yours.
More about picture passwords
Bing Smart Search gives you results from your PC, your apps, and the web. Results are in a clean, graphic view so you can quickly get to what you're looking for. (Certain features unavailable in some regions.)
More about search
Windows 8.1 lets you work the way you want, and flow smoothly from one thing to another. Pull up a Wikipedia article during a chat with a friend to settle a debate. Play a music video while polishing your resume. Depending on the size of your screen, you can see up to four apps at once.
More about using apps
It goes where you go.
Use your Microsoft account to sign in to any of your devices running Windows 8.1, and you'll see the same layout, apps, and settings. Signing in with your Microsoft Account (which is simply an email address and password of your choice) also gives you access to a world of apps from the Windows Store, and lets you save, view, and edit your documents and photos online with OneDrive.
More about Microsoft accounts
OneDrive is free online storage that's built into Windows 8.1. Save documents, photos, and other files to OneDrive automatically, and get to them anytime, from any of your PCs or devices. And you can use OneDrive to protect your files if something happens to your PC.
You can also use OneDrive to share and collaborate with others, and see your stuff on mobile and non-Windows devices.
More about OneDrive
Internet Explorer 11 is built for touch—now with larger tabs, simpler controls, and fluid response to gestures. Internet Explorer harnesses the power of hardware acceleration, so sites load faster and browsing’s smoother.
More about Internet Explorer
The always-on app that makes staying in touch with all your contacts easier than ever. Keep in touch with video and voice calls and instant messaging, all from one app. Call any phone quickly and easily. All Skype-to-Skype video and voice calls are free, and your messages are delivered straight to you no matter what you're doing. Snap Skype left or right and do more while you IM, video call, or keep an eye on your home screen.
More about Skype
Open the Windows Store right from your Start screen to browse and download apps for cooking, photos, sports, news, and a lot more—many of them free. Sort by price, rating, and category. Find old favorites and hot new apps.
More about the Windows Store
Get email from your accounts—including Outlook and Yahoo!—all in one place.
Explore, download, and listen to the latest music.
Browse and watch movies and shows. Watch on your PC or play to your TV.
Photo editing for touchscreens, the way it's supposed to be. Crop, fix, and apply filters quickly and easily.
Discover the hottest new games, classic favorites, and exclusives for Windows. Track your progress and compare scores with friends.
Take photos and videos, browse through them, and share the best ones with your friends and family.
Stay connected and start conversations with contacts from your social networks and email accounts.
Quickly pinpoint, save, and explore the locations you care about. Get driving directions and see traffic conditions.
Keep track of your schedule in month, week, or two-day view. Get appointment reminders so you’re always on time.
Comprehensive financial news and market data from the global sources you trust.
Set up and customize multiple alarms for all the things you need to be reminded of. Turn them off when you want to focus.
A reliable classic, still there for you, and now optimized for touch.
Get thousands of recipes, instructional videos, and tips from renowned chefs.
Easily record a sound, and then trim, save, and replay it on your PC.
Save stuff you're interested in to read later, or share it with friends.