BETTER SEARCHES WITH WINDOWS 8.1

windows-8.1-apps-view-searchWe love the new search function in Windows 8.1. Click the “Start” button and type the name of a country. “Morocco,” for example. You’ll see a list of any files that mention Morocco. (On Joy’s computer, Bob’s bio came up, since he went on an archaeological dig there.) You also get a map and basic stats about the country, such as its population and GDP. Slide to the right to see links to videos, tourist information and other links. We typed “England,” and got main attractions, tours, pictures, history and — rather oddly — some apps for New England Patriots fans. (The computer just latches on to key words.)

Another tip: Press “Start” and type the name of a musician to get their music. We typed “Dave Brubeck” and pressed the “play” button for “Take Five.” We also got an article about him, a YouTube link and other stuff. Some of the music streams from the online Xbox Music service, which is similar to Pandora but has worse ads. Like Spotify, our favorite music service, Xbox Music lets you create a list of tunes under a category you make up, like “Jazz” or “Cole Porter.” It costs $10 a month to listen without ads on Xbox Music or Spotify; ad-free Pandora is only $4 a month, but we don’t like its selection as much.

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