Thursday, April 3, 2014

Windows 8.1 update arrives on April 8th

We're less than a week away from the long awaited Windows 8.1 update. An update that promises to fix the  most common gripes users have with Microsoft's Windows 8 metro interface and its reliance on "touch-oriented usage", and be a lot more friendly for keyboard and mouse users... which... as far as I'm aware, are still most of us.

The changes in this Windows 8.1 update are not revolutionary, and might even go unnoticed at first sight. But they prove noticeable enough to make classical windows users feel more at home when facing Windows 8... and hopefully make them reconsider going back to Windows 7, as many did.

For instance, right clicking on a Live Tile will show you a familiar context menu; moving your mouse pointer to the corner will have a slight delay before presenting you with the charm menus; and metro apps can now be stacked on the tray bar and show a title bar on top, reminding us they're mostly a full screen app.

There are also a few other things: Windows will now be free for smartphones and tablets with screens under 9"; and MS reminds developers they can easily create universal apps that can run in Windows Phones, tablets, desktops, and even the Xbox. If you consider you often have to buy an app for your iPhone, and the buy it again for you android tablet (or vice-versa), and then another for your desktop... you'll soon begin to appreciate the concept of buying one app and be able to run it on all your devices.

The only thing that was kind of a let down... and more so, because MS actually showed it, was the lack of a Start Menu on this Win8.1 update.

MS did show us how a Start Menu could be, mixing the Win7 start menu with the Win 8 Live Tiles. Unfortunately, they didn't even confirm if this Start Menu would make it to the public in a future update. For me, they should simply provide it via download for anyone wanting it. That way, they could keep their official Windows "menu-free"... but let power users (or more traditional ones) keep their trusted start menus. For me, it would be everything I need to start using Windows 8 as my main OS (instead of sticking with Windows 7, until they do).

This Windows 8.1 update will reach users worldwide on April 8th.

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