As Microsoft is getting closer to release the next small-major update for its operating system, a new version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 managed to leak (again) online revealing the new features and changes the software giant is locking in the next update — reportedly coming in April 8th.
I shared some of the recent changes Microsoft added in Windows 8.1 Update 1, but now I had the chance to install the standalone package (KB2919355) and play with the latest bits (on a spare PC) and I can confirm that after updating Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update 1, the system indeed boots to desktop by default on traditional PC without touch. Although, I’ve been hearing that on touch-enabled devices, such as Surface Pro 2, by default Windows boots to the Start screen, which it only makes sense.
OneDrive — SkyDrive no more
Perhaps one of the “biggest” changes in the latest Windows 8.1 Update 1 leak is that Microsoft has finally changed the name of SkyDrive to OneDrive system-wide.
PC settings tile no more
One tweak that appeared in previous leaks was the “PC settings” tile in the Start screen for easy access to Windows’ Metro-style “Control Panel”, but in the latest leak the live tile is nowhere to be found — though you can still create your own shortcut and pin it Start.
Also the new Power Options located in the top-right corner of the Start screen seems that will only appear on non-touch PC hardware to make it easier for people with keyboard and mouse to Shut down, Sleep, and Restart. The same behaviour will occur with the new context menu for live tiles in the Start screen, it will only appear for non-touchscreen devices.
Windows 8-style apps changes
Another Windows 8.1 Update 1 changes included in the near-final version of the package is the new black title bar that appears at the top of Windows 8-style (Metro) apps. Interesting enough this new black bar with the options to minimize and close apps becomes visible for a few seconds while launching an app, indicating you have those options.
When launching or switching to a running Windows Store app from the taskbar, the taskbar stays visible until you move the mouse away, but now the taskbar is transparent once again.
The “Show Store apps on the taskbar” option now is enabled by default, but the option has been renamed to “Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar”. So this means that you’ll see running Metro apps on the taskbar and by default you’ll see the minimize option on apps.
Jumplist and playback controls for Metro apps
Some, but not all Metro apps also are getting support for jumplist in the taskbar, which are quick shortcuts to specific app options and recently opened files. Also a few media player apps are showing playback controls while pinned in the taskbar, like in Windows Media Player, Music, Spotify, etc.
Default file viewer
Now photos and audio files that are open on PC without touch hardware will default to Windows Photo Viewer and Windows Media Player, while in touch-enabled hardware Windows 8.1 Update 1 will open such files on Metro-style apps by default.
You’ll also be able to include a PC into a domain from the PC settings with a new “Join a domain” option located on PC and devices, PC info. However option is only available on Windows 8.1 Pro and Enterprise.
Internet Explorer 11
Internet Explorer 11 shows the Enterprise Mode that helps companies to transition from previous version of the web browser to the latest. There is a new “Report website problems” option in the desktop and modern version of IE to tell Microsoft a web page isn’t working the way it should, information that will help to improve the software. Also you can now configure the modern version of IE by clicking the wrench icon in bottom-right corner of the screen and selecting Options.
Finally I heard that users will be able to bring up the taskbar while using a Metro app by simply moving the mouse to the bottom of the screen or by using the + T keyboard shortcut, but I can’t confirm the functionality in my installation. (I’ll update this article when I can actually confirm it.)
Keep in mind that all changes and features are suggest to change as Microsoft has yet to complete and officially release Windows 8.1 Update 1 to the public.
It is clear that the company is making the necessary changes to help users with keyboard and mouse to be more productive using the operating system. And not surprisingly many of the changes we’ll get in the next small-major update will only be available when a keyboard and mouse is detected, which only makes sense.
Stay tuned for more…