The wait to download “Windows 8.1 Update” is almost over, next week, on April 8th, Microsoft will make the update available to PC running Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 via Windows Update. However the company is releasing the bits today, April 2nd, for MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Microsoft officially announced the news during the first day of Build 2014, the company’s yearly developer conference in San Francisco.
In the event Microsoft demoed “Windows 8.1 Update”, which is the official name and not Windows 8.1 Update 1, and you have been following my write-ups about the recent leaks, you pretty much know everything that’s coming: boot-to-desktop, power options, Start context menu, disk management option in PC settings, the ability to easily close and navigate apps between the Metro and Desktop environment. All the new changes and improvements are focus on making Windows 8.1 a better operating system suited for keyboard and mouse PCs, something Microsoft admits it missed out on.
When you think, you have seen it all, Microsoft is including a few new (under-the-radar) tweaks to the update:
- Taskbar everywhere: One big tweak added to Windows 8.1 Update that we didn’t see before is that the taskbar will extend to the Metro environment as well. Simply moving the mouse cursor to the button of the screen will make force the taskbar to pop up.
- Delayed hot corners: Another additional tweak added to the update is on hot corners, now Charms and quick app switch, which appear from the edges are delayed, that way they will no longer show up suddenly when closing an app or reaching an app options in the top-left corner.
- PC settings tile: The update will also add a new “PC settings” tile on the Start screen for easy access to those options.
- Boot-to-desktop behavior: Also Windows 8.1 Update will make the PCs boot straight to the Desktop, however Microsoft will let PC manufactures decide how new PCs and tablets should boot depending on their capabilities. But be careful here, if you choose to boot-to-desktop by default, Microsoft will also include new changes. For example, if you select to bypass the Start screen, the operating system will assume that you like Desktop more than Metro, as a result photos, music, and videos will default to open to desktop applications instead of Windows 8 apps.
Although the new tweaks will definitely help the keyboard and mouse user, the boot-to-desktop behavior seems that it will put the OS in an odd position as desktop apps are not fully integrated with the Microsoft cloud services, which could hurt a little on the company’s effort to push cloud computing. However, may be this is just temporary as Microsoft will also make Windows 8 apps float on the desktop in the next update. In theory apps will then be able to default to Metro-style apps even though boot straight to desktop option is enabled as it will be easier for users to use.
Windows 8.1 Update isn’t a touch-first operating system anymore, now it’s clearly a touch and keyboard/mouse operating system all around, and Microsoft admits that there is much room for improvement, it’s listening to feedbacks, and it’s acting very quickly.