Coinciding with Microsoft’s BUILD 2013 conference this week, the public preview of Windows 8.1 has been released over at Microsoft’s Windows website.

Windows 8.1 (née Blue) is Windows 8’s first service pack, presenting Microsoft’s first chance to iterate on Windows 8 after the OS’s rocky launch. This goes for both the traditional desktop/mobile PC environment, and the tablet environment where yearly OS updates have come to be expected.

Consequently a number of the changes in Windows 8.1 are to the Metro/Modern layer, such as changes to tile management and window snapping, however there are some low level changes that techies will also be interested in. Among other things, Windows 8.1 will ship with support for Intel’s Connected Standby technology for Haswell, and a revised DPI scaling mechanism that is better suited for driving the high DPI displays that are coming down the pipeline for both Ultrabooks and desktops. We’ll have some updates on these features once we get a chance to tinker with Win8.1 in depth.

Windows 8.1 is being made available as both an update and an ISO. The update itself is being distributed through the Windows Store app – after downloading and installing the requisite platform patch from Microsoft’s website – and weighs in at a hefty 2.44GB for the Windows 8.1 Pro Preview. The ISO files have not been posted yet, but are expected to be available tomorrow.

Update

To go along with the release of the new OS, AMD has released a new Catalyst preview driver set. The new drivers bring support for WDDM 1.3 and its associated features to Trinity and GCN hardware, though the driver also covers last-generation VLIW5 hardware.

Update 2

Like AMD, NVIDIA has also released new drivers, version 326.01. However unlike AMD these drivers are only being distributed through Windows Update to machines running Windows 8.1.

Source: Microsoft

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  • inighthawki - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    All is software except tiled resources which is split into two parts. Tier 1 implementations which will work on existing hardware with new drivers, and tier 2 which requires new hardware. Certain functionality is not available on tier 1 devices. Reply
  • Willardjuice - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Where is this information? Reply
  • Willardjuice - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    seems tier 1 = d3d 11 and tier 2 = 11.1 Reply
  • inighthawki - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Tier 2 will only work on a small subset of hardware, such as amd's newer 7000 cards (likely harnessing their support for partially resident textures). As far as I am aware other existing 11.1 cards will not work, and will require 11.2 hardware. Reply
  • Willardjuice - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    Well I believe the only other existing 11.1 hardware is haswell, so that should be easy to test. According to Dave from AMD, it should work though (I would post the link from b3d, but apparently anand thinks I'm a spammer). Perhaps he meant all AMD cards that support 11.1 support tier 2? The whole situation is pretty ambiguous. Reply
  • inighthawki - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    This would make sense, since AMD's newer cards (7900, not sure if the other 7000 cards do) supports partially resident textures already, and thus it seems logical that this hardware can be leveraged for tier 2 support. I'm unaware of any other 11 or 11.1 grade hardware that supports it (the GTX700 series is also 11.1) Reply
  • Willardjuice - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    No Nvidia products are 11.1. They only support feature level 11.0. Reply
  • inighthawki - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    It actually seems like it's a bit confusing. They do support 11.1, but not 100% compliant:
    http://www.guru3d.com/news_story/nvidia_kepler_not...
    Reply
  • Willardjuice - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    If I query a kepler card (titan, gtx 7xx, etc), it'll return feature level 11.0. Nvidia supports some optional features but they don't support feature level 11.1 (they lack the hardware support for target independent rasterization iirc). It's confusing because Nvidia doesn't like to openly admit they don't support the latest feature level. ;)

    So the big question is, does haswell (and generic d3d 11.1 cards) support tier 2?
    Reply
  • inighthawki - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    "If I query a kepler card (titan, gtx 7xx, etc), it'll return feature level 11.0"
    Correct, it features some 11.1 features but because it is not compliant it is still reported as FEATURE_LEVEL_11_0

    "So the big question is, does haswell (and generic d3d 11.1 cards) support tier 2?"
    No, it does not.
    Reply

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