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Windows 8.1 Update 1 is now live and available for download via Windows Update

Windows 8.1, which was first released back in October of last year, has received its first significant update.

That’s right! Windows 8.1 Update 1 is live right now. If you’re running Windows 8.1, you can head over to Windows Update to download and install it immediately. If it doesn’t show up for you though, don’t fret; Microsoft will be rolling out the update all day today, and not everyone will gain access to it simultaneously. If you’re in that crowd, it should be available for you to download soon.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 has been rumored for months now, and was officially unveiled at Microsoft’s annual Build conference last week. At the event, Microsoft confirmed multiple tweaks that were whispered about around the Internet leading up to the reveal. Here are the changes that Windows 8.1 Update 1 brings to the OS.

  • Boot straight to the Desktop: As was previously rumored, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will allow users to boot and resume straight to the classic desktop UI, allowing them to bypass the tiled Modern UI altogether. This will likely be a welcome feature considering that the Modern portion of Windows 8 hasn’t been well received since it debuted back in late 2012.
  • Changes to the Taskbar: With Windows 8.1 Update 1, you can use both desktop programs and Windows Store apps from the classic desktop UI. Windows Store apps will also work on the desktop UI’s Taskbar as well, and a new button on the Taskbar will permit you to access the Windows Store without forcing you to dive into the Modern UI to do so. With Windows 8.1 Update 1, the Taskbar will be accessible while using Modern apps by moving your mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen.
  • Tweaks to the Modern UI Start screen: The Modern UI Start screen will also receive some tweaks, including dedicated Power and Search buttons. The addition of a dedicated power button in the Start Screen will allow users to power their PCs off without having to open the Charms menu, shaving some seconds off the process of shutting down their systems. Newly installed Modern apps will be labeled “New,” and will pull up a drop-down menu when right-clicked, as opposed to the bar on the bottom of the screen.

Aside from these changes, Microsoft also teased a return of a revamped Start Menu at Build, but that does not make an appearance here with Windows 8.1 Update 1. Considering that they also kept mum about Windows 9, which also has been rumored and could hit the market a year from now, we strongly expect the Start Menu’s comeback to coincide with the next full Windows release.

We’ll follow up with a Windows 8.1 Update 1 hands-on, where we’ll give you our impressions of this patch.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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