From the perspective of a power user who games on Windows what is Windows 8.1 like? Here is my answer to those questions in the form of a video. A word of caution do not use this preview unless you are really computer savvy. Who knows what could go wrong on different hardware than mine, which was made by/for Windows 8.
A picture is worth 1000 words, a videois worth 1000 x 30fps x 60 s x however many minutes. So, I will spare a long written description. The short version is that windows 8 was OK for games but it had issues. Windows 8.1 preview is better for games than Windows 8 and possibly even windows 7.
The installation is simple enough if you have windows 8 you can get it via the Windows Store. (ISO files for non windows 8 users ). There is a restart and the the computer will direct you to the windows store to install the update. The update runs in the background and the computer is fully usable. After the update there is a sign on to a Microsoft account and a two step verification process. So one needs to have a cell phone for receiving a text message.
The start button is back, but it takes you to the start screen. In my opinion the start screen is a marked improvement over the start menu. It displays timely information on“live tiles” at a glance. It also places websites like Facebook or the various Google Apps on the same footing as Windows applications. One launches “pinned” websites in the same manner as applications. The start menu is here to stay and it's about time someone took a chance on UI design and broke from the herd.
Last but not least to many tech savvy younger users is gaming. I have played every “Total War” ™ game since Shogun 1 way back in the early 00's on Windows ME, plus Dos games like Doom before that. You all want to know what I wanted to know. Will this update kill my games? Why should I choose this over Windows 7 for a gaming computer?
As the video shows games that did notwork, or which were broken under Windows 8, now work perfectly underwindows 8.1. I'll let the gameplay towards the end of the videospeak for itself. Just to avert comments yes I lost the battle, but I was playing one handed and my AI ally got slaughtered. Can't win 'em all.
Why is Windows 8 better for gaming? On my old laptop Windows 8's lower graphics demands leaves more resources for games themselves. Windows 7 uses tons of VRAM and RAM for its “Aero Glass” user interface. The user interface in Windows 8 is totally flat and simplified for the sake of working equally well on an ARM processor as on a PC with a dedicated graphics card. Why should your GPU or APU waste cycles on transparency and eye candy that does nothing? Windows 8 boots faster, and simply has less baggage than Windows 7.
If one is building a new gaming PC consider Windows 8.1 preview as it's OS.
Update: Windows 8.1 improves on the preview in numerous ways of course. The only annoyance is that it has a built in spell checker which automatically changes what you write. Sometimes this causes more problems than it corrects. Especially when a word one wishes to use is close to a word that's in its dictionary.