Windows 8.1 Update revealed. Focused on non-touch users

Microsoft have officially lifted the lids off its latest update to Windows 8.1 at the ongoing BUILD Conference 2014 and it has been named “Windows 8.1 Update”. The update will be available as a free downloads via automatic Windows update.

The main reason why Windows 8 was struggling is because the “Metro” and “Desktop” worlds are two separate things. There were not able to co-exist as both had their own separate environment. The update doesn’t come packed with new features but rather it arrives with some small tweaks which would be welcomed by the non-touch users with open arms as Microsoft tries to find that sweet spot between Metro and Desktop users.

Boot to Desktop set as default

This option was introduced with 8.1 but it was a “opt-in” feature and as a result many casual users were unaware of this feature. With Update 1, this will be a “opt-out” feature and you would boot to desktop directly. If you want to be greeted with the metro start screen, you’d have to change the settings yourself.

Universal Apps

This feature would greatly enhance the experience for the end user. With the Update 1, the apps would be universal. It means that an application designed for Windows 8 would also run on Windows Phone 8 and Xbox One as well

Internet Explorer enhancements

Despite some usual bug fixes, Microsoft claims that the update would provide better compatibility and stability for Internet Explorer 1. Another exciting feature is that you can now sync your browsing session across all your devices. So if were browsing the internet on your PC, you would be able to pick up from that page on your compatible Windows phone

Power Controls on Start Screen

Microsoft has now added power controls on the start screen which makes shutting down and restarting our computers just that much easier

Pin Metro Apps on Taskbar

Uptill now, you could only launch a desktop program from the taskbar but that is about to change. Now you will be able to pin metro apps to your taskbar aswell so that you do not have to keep alternating between taskbar and Modern Start Screen to run an app.

Taskbar on Metro

Now you’d be able to call upon the good-old taskbar even from the Metro apps. This makes it easier for people who are adjusting to the Modern UI as they would see a similar item at the bottom of the screen regardless of where they are.

Tweaks to Metro UI

Newly install apps will now be labeled as “New” on the start screen and the tiles on the start screen would show a pop-up (rather than a bar at the bottom) when right clicked

Another nifty feature is that, now you will be able to close metro apps using the traditional “X” button on the top right corner of the screen. Currently, you had to drag an app to the bottom of the screen to close it (which works quite beautifully for touch screens, but not for desktops). To close a metro app, all you have to do is move your pointer to the corner and you would be presented with an option to close or minimize the running application


These are some neat additions and its good to see that Microsoft is listening to its users. What do you think about these features? Let us know!

Ali Moin

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