All About Windows 8.1 Update - a Roundup of Microsoft's Released Update

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By Judith Aparri | April 4, 2014 5:44 PM EST

Microsoft finally unveils its coming Windows 8.1 update - a big revision which will add various functionalities to the desktop OS. For a lot of users, the focus of the update is on the enhancement of Windows 8.1 for laptops and desktops.

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Joe Belfiore, vice president of the operating system group at Microsoft, holds a pair of mobile phones featuring the new Windows 8.1 operating system during the company's "build" conference in San Francisco, California April 2, 2014.

Where touch is not the main way of input on laptops and desktops, Microsoft made an effort to accommodate tablets with Windows 8 which comprised the mouse and keyboard experience. This time, Microsoft is making amends, by means of Windows 8.1 update.

First, Microsoft promised to bring back Start menu to Windows, not in Windows 8.1 Update. The Redmond firm did give a brief glimpse of the new Start menu and said it will be introduced again in another update. While the next update is in the works still, you can check on Classic Shell if you need the Start menu right now.

Here are some of the features of Windows 8.1 Update are the:

  • Booting and resuming will be direct to the Desktop screen. The Windows Store apps can directly be docked in the Desktop taskbar as well.
  • A running Windows Store app will be displayed by the taskbar. So that those who do not like the "Metro" view, do not need it just to launch and jump among Windows Store apps.
  • Minimize and Close buttons are back. This cures another big pain which Windows 8 and 8.1 caused. Title bars for example, show for Store apps. When you run a modern app, a title bar appears above the window which reappears if you move the mouse cursor up the screen. You can then use Close and Minimize buttons, with animations informing you what's going on.
  • Music players minimized in taskbar have hover media controls.
  • Search and Power buttons are static on the Start screen so that those who use keyboard and mouse do not need to look for them.
  • There is a bit of a mouse tweak. Position the mouse on the screen's corners and a fundamental Windows 8 interface of "edges for touch screens and corners for mouse cursor" brings you to basic Windows menus as well as changing windows.
  • Placing the mouse to upper left corner to go to the Browser's back button will not show the thumbnails of the running apps.
  • The Windows Store apps is brought to the desktop, even pinning by default the Windows Store apps to the taskbar. Actually, any store app can be pinned to the taskbar. If users do not want this, they can change the Taskbar properties to disable this capability.
  • Apps arrival becomes transparent. Installed apps will not get tiles on the Start screen but added to the All App section below. They go there and the down arrow will lead the way to the list of all apps. The icons on the App screen become denser and friendlier for mouse use.

The current updates of Microsoft do not even come with a version number but has tweaks to appease laptop and desktop users, and even much better in tablets. Furthermore, it is even released for free. Microsoft indeed takes the mantra "change is bad, unless it's great."

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(Photo: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith / )
Joe Belfiore, vice president of the operating system group at Microsoft, holds a pair of mobile phones featuring the new Windows 8.1 operating system during the company's "build" conference in San Francisco, California April 2, 2014.
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