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What to expect from Windows 8.1 Update 1

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February 19, 2014

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be released in a couple of months and here's what you can expect

Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be released in a couple of months and here's what you can expect

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Whether you love it or hate it, Windows 8 keeps moving forward. Windows 8.1 added a lot of features and interface improvements to the first iteration. Now another improvement is coming, which Microsoft is calling Windows 8.1 Update 1. It's like a service pack that improves security and stability under the hood. But what's most notable is how it makes the Start screen and modern interface easier to use with keyboard and mouse on traditional computers.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 interface changes

The most notable change is that the Start screen is more mouse-friendly. When you right-click on a tile, a Context menu now appears, just like when when you right-click an item on the desktop. The Context menu gives you the option to pin modern apps to the desktop Taskbar, resize app tiles, uninstall the app, and turn live tiles on or off.

If you right-click a modern app on the Start screen, you get a Context menu

While being able to pin a modern app to the desktop Taskbar is all good, when you launch one, it still goes full screen. But now there is a title bar at the top that gives you the basic minimize and maximize features of desktop programs. It also includes the ability to snap apps to the left or right side of the screen.

Modern apps now have a title bar that lets you move the window

Though the modern apps do open in full screen mode, now you'll have access to the desktop Taskbar at the same time. To pull it up, just point the mouse pointer to the bottom of the page.

The desktop Taskbar can be access from modern apps running in full screen mode

When you hover over a modern app that's pinned to the Taskbar and running, you'll see a thumbnail pop up, just like we've had since Windows 7.

Modern apps pinned to the Taskbar and running will give you thumbnails

Windows 8 has always let you group similar apps together on the Start screen and label them. Naming groups usually took several touch or mouse gestures. But now you can right-click an empty area of the Start screen and rename all of your groups faster.

Right-click an empty area on Start screen to create and name app categories

Recently Microsoft announced that it's renaming SkyDrive to OneDrive due to a trademark dispute with British Sky Broadcasting. With this update you'll see that SkyDrive has indeed been officially rebranded. If you're using SkyDrive currently, no worries about having to learn anything new, only the name is changing.

SkyDrive has been officially rebranded as OneDrive in Update 1

There's a new way to access search and power features. A prominent search icon has been added to the upper right part of the screen, next to your user name. This makes it easier to search and power down your PC without first accessing the Charms bar. Do note, however, that if you want to search from the Start screen, you can just start typing. Windows 8-savvy users are already aware of this, but having more visual cues should help new users.

Search and power options are easier to find, no more opening the Charms bar first

On the Apps screen you can now change the size of the tiles. When on the Apps screen, open the Charms bar and select Settings > Tiles. Here you can make them larger or smaller and also make Administrative tools show up.

On the apps screen you can now make the icons smaller for more detail

Some final thoughts

These are just some of the new features that will be in Windows 8.1 Update 1 when it's released in late March or early April. Some of the features you might enjoy more, or the opposite may be true. One thing is for sure though, since the resignation of Steven Sinoksy, former President of Windows Division at Microsoft, the company is back-pedaling on a lot of his original vision for Windows 8.

For instance, the return of the Start button, easier boot to desktop options, and now making the Start screen easier to use with a mouse. The new regime at Microsoft is making the modern interface more like the desktop, which I doubt was Sinosky's plan.

About the Author
Brian Burgess Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Gizmag, he’s the Editor in Chief at groovyPost.com and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him listening to heavy metal, playing guitar, or watching Star Trek.   All articles by Brian Burgess
19 Comments

oh well I guess when support for 7 stops I'll go Mac.

Sean Brendan Phelim Moore
19th February, 2014 @ 03:13 am PST

Nice. I guess the strategy was trying to get people to use the all touch interface and they are now introducing desktop like functionality.

Should have been like that from the start, but I'm glad anyway.

Thijmen Put
19th February, 2014 @ 04:03 am PST

@Sean Brendan Phelim Moore: Why?

Don Wright
19th February, 2014 @ 04:11 am PST

It's been said that stupidity has a radius of about 10m. You'll understand this if you happen to be out in your local bar district at 3:00am. But the same rule applies to many aspects of life. I happen to think that Windows 8 and its awful Metro interface is completely stupid; one of many dumb decisions made by Microsoft over the years (I have a list). Therefore, I'd like to stay 10m away from it at all times.

It's entirely up to Microsoft. I'm not buying Win 8; ain't happening. Call me when Win 9 is out, and it had better be different. Meanwhile, it's more likely that a Mac is on the shopping list.

Anonymous756
19th February, 2014 @ 08:06 am PST

Imagine your Microsoft hot water faucet upgraded: You *now* can get hot water by lifting your left foot while saying the word "hot" three times aloud. Why? Because, brother, it is upgrade time!

Once running, you will find you can no longer turn *off* your hot water unless you get an account with your hot water provider, and log out properly. Why? Because, brother, all the added new functionality you never knew existed. Isn't that great?

Also, the old way of always getting all water to stop, your water mains, is now controlled by this handy function, the hot water user account. How is that not better, oh brother? Only communists would hate that!

Aren't we lucky to have innovative companies controlling these things? Endowing us with upgrades we never asked for, to do old things in new and unintuitive ways, and to relearn them every so often? I can't wait for them to upgrade my toilet seat, front door, and many other appliances with the potential to become great high-tech gimmicks.

BeWalt
19th February, 2014 @ 09:34 am PST

Windows 8.1 is phenomenal; there are still some kinks to be worked out, but isn't that to be expected considering this is the first major overhaul of the Windows UI since 1995? In its current state, I can get more done with Windows than I ever could before. And I'm not talking about downloading some third-party app that lets me pretend I'm using Windows 7. I frequently use Metro apps in conjunction with the traditional desktop - for instance, it's incredibly useful to be able to dock a Skype chat to the right of one of my monitors while I'm doing other work.

Sometimes you have to accept change, especially when it comes to technology. This goes for all those who think that they can somehow boycott Windows 8 by sticking with the previous version: I'm sorry to disappoint you, but your misguided opinion isn't important enough to make a multi-billion dollar tech giant call for a complete reversal of all the work they've done in the past two years.

But if you instead want to fork over $2k to Apple for a machine whose primary function is looking pretty, be my guest.

Keith Pickering
19th February, 2014 @ 09:42 am PST

Window 8 looks terrible and I have no loss of productivity by not using it.

There seem to be a few Microsoft trolls here. But what I wish Microsoft would do is start a Pro line that starts from XP and just improves that OS and UI each year until it's faster and more solid than ever and it's already pretty fast and solid.

And the idea of switching to Mac if W7 somehow goes away is not a new thought to me. I think about that all the time. W7 is bad enough. And talk about trying to look pretty -- isn't that what W8 is all about and fails at?

DemonDuck
19th February, 2014 @ 11:04 am PST

The only pain I've received from 8.1 upgraded from 8 was that it now wants to log in using my Windows Live account. No more PC-only accounts which I prefer to use.

They are still there but you need to reinstall everything again. PITA.

Matthew Giles
19th February, 2014 @ 08:47 pm PST

What I would really like is to have XP continue to be supported and still available to purchase, but I was forced into W7 and its freaking libraries when I purchased a new computer.

If I cannot get XP, I would accept continued support for W7 with the ability to purchase a licence allowing my use of it on any new computer. It would be nice to discard libraries - I like things my way, not the way someone at Microsoft thinks I should have them. There might be hope. Microsoft have extended their support for W7 Pro and are continuing its availability for new business customers past the original October cut off.

It would like to know just how much Microsoft costs the global economy by forcing multitudes to lose productive time while they repeatedly learn to use new operating systems that they did not ask for nor need. On top of that, there must be a number of businesses who put off buying new computers because of the same upheaval.

Mel Tisdale
20th February, 2014 @ 08:32 am PST

I dont understand peoples infatuation with Windows 8. A touch screen interface is a nice idea if you are doing any type of design work where interacting with the screen improves design options, such as drawing, circuit design, etc. As a primary interface on a desktop or laptop it is highly inefficient. How is stabbing at the screen with my fingers, which requires full arm movement, more efficient then nudging my mouse?

The people, like myself, who find Windows 8 to be distasteful seem to be more interested in making their software work then dealing with a radically different and dumbed down interface. Windows is a software platform. It is designed to be the foundation that software runs on. It should be efficient and effective. It is not necessary for it to be pretty nor an orgasmic experience. Windows 8 tries to be one (or both) these and fails completely.

I use a third party menu software to remove all the charms, apps, pop-ups, tiles, etc and to give me a real Windows 7 start button. Why? All that extra stuff gets in the way of finding my files, configuring the system, accessing and interacting with my software. The 8.1 update fixed some of these problems but failed allow me to disable other things so the menu software is still necessary.

The specific menu program I use is Classic Shell. Some people think that the only choices are Windows 7 or Apple. I think that Classic Shell removes the explicit necessity to avoid Windows 8 in favor of Apple. Apple makes great machines and there are a number of things that they excel at compared to Windows systems but "it's not windows 8" is not a good reason to switch as Apple (like Windows) has its limitations. Classic Shell makes Windows 8 usable and effective. If I had tried Windows 8 before I bought a Win 8 machine, I would have bought a Windows 7 system instead. I did try Win 8 before my machine arrived and I immediately set out to find a solution to the problem of windows 8 since I didn't want to hassle with returning the computer. It was the first program I installed on my new system. Windows 8 is now usable. Try it and see for your self.

Someone indicated that the Windows 8.1 update requires a MS account. That is not correct. I run my Windows 8.1 machine without one. I dont even have an MS account.

Lyinggod
20th February, 2014 @ 02:08 pm PST

Using an app like Classic Shell is a lot better than sticking to Windows 7, but I still feel like it's our responsibility as technologically literate people to become familiar with the changes to the OS rather than just pretending they aren't there. Chances are someone's going to ask you to fix their computer at some point. What are you supposed to say when you know less about the interface than they do?

Keith Pickering
20th February, 2014 @ 04:02 pm PST

People on the Internet rarely agree on anything but the feedback on Windows 8/metro UI has been pretty consistent.

A huge majority of people dislike it and people like me get by mostly only because we are in "classic" nearly all the time save for using metro as a start menu.

Even microsoft employees have gone on record saying it is intended to cater more to the novice than power users but novice users seem to have the most trouble of anyone figuring out how to use metro based apps because almost all the controls in metro are invisible.

Daishi
20th February, 2014 @ 04:41 pm PST

Windows 8.1 is phenomenal; .... In its current state, I can get more done with Windows than I ever could before. ...... for instance, it's incredibly useful to be able to dock a Skype chat to the right of one of my monitors while I'm doing other work.

Sometimes you have to accept change, especially when it comes to technology. This goes for all those who think that they can somehow boycott Windows 8 by sticking with the previous version: I'm sorry to disappoint you, but your misguided opinion isn't important enough to make a multi-billion dollar tech giant call for a complete reversal of all the work they've done in the past two years.

Mark Eastaugh
20th February, 2014 @ 06:15 pm PST

All for the best. Win 8.1 x64 Pro smooth as butter once get hang of it. Fast, stable, multi-task several windows & programs much better than even Win 7. 16GB helps.

Changes mentioned are improvement, esp pinning Modern to desktop will help.

Usually work in desktop as normal but a radio app or such be nice to launch from

within the desktop. Will keep me away from the one button Mac mouse thing.

beergas
20th February, 2014 @ 06:41 pm PST

I only find Win 8 tolerable because I am using a thrid party Win 7 interface. Without that, I will never touch Win 8. I am also lucky that when I tried to upgrade to 8.1, the system hanged and reverted back to Win 8. Now I will NEVER try to upgrade to 8.1 again.

People always argued that a free market system works. But in reality, it does not. Win 8 is a perfect proof why it does not work.

JC
20th February, 2014 @ 10:02 pm PST

windows 8 is the biggest piece of sh** OS,

i work in retail and i'm a technician,

i have customers coming in everyday and

windows 8 just makes them vomit,

i have customers asking for win 7 computers or

thay just buy win 8 computers then that just

delete win8 and install win7,

i've had customers ask me if i can install android os or they just buy a tablet instead. :)

foxcopy
21st February, 2014 @ 01:53 am PST

beergas,

You're doing nothing but proving that too many Mac haters speak from a position of ignorance. Apple desktops haven't shipped with single-button mice in almost a decade.

Gadgeteer
21st February, 2014 @ 03:56 pm PST

I've configured the charms menu to only appear if the cursor is in the top right corner of the screen so of course it will not, under any circumstances, appear when the cursor is there of course any time I don't want it and just want to move my cursor 1 inch to the left BAM charms menu, lost app focus, pain in the ass misery

Cordelia Blythe
1st March, 2014 @ 04:21 pm PST

Hope we get all these perfectly.

Win Migration
6th March, 2014 @ 01:59 am PST
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