Microsoft talks Windows 8.1 Update 1 features, April 8 release, teases future Start menu

windows 8 1 update news win

At Build 2014, Microsoft’s annual developer-focused conference, the company dished out some details about Windows 8.1 Update 1, the first significant Windows update since it became available back in October. Here’s a rundown of the changes that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will bring about once it’s released as a free update for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users on April 8, which happens to be Microsoft’s next regularly scheduled Patch Tuesday.

  • 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.

Overall, Windows 8.1 Update 1 is a minor refresh as opposed to a dramatic makeover. Microsoft also reiterated that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will drop the minimum system requirements to 1GB of RAM and only require 16GB of storage, allowing the OS to run on lower-end PCs.

Return of the Start menu?

Microsoft also teased that in the future, a form of the classic Start menu will make a return, and have Modern UI-style Live Tiles embedded within it. Apps will be able to run in Windowed mode as well. The Start menu will function similarly to how it did prior to its elimination when Windows 8 launched, permitting users to find and run programs and apps through it. However, it sounds like those features will be added to the OS as part of a future update, and not Windows 8.1 Update 1 when it hits next week.

Windows 8 Start Menu

We look forward to spending time with Windows 8.1 Update 1 once its released next week, and we’ll follow up with our hands-on impressions as well. 

Body image credit: Cnet

Computing

An update to Microsoft To-Do will help you keep up with your resolutions

If you're looking to stay productive in 2019, you might want to check out the freshly updated Microsoft To-Do app, now with additional integration with the Windows 10 Start Menu and more.
Computing

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Computing

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.
Computing

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering ergonomic mice alternatives. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.
Gaming

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.
Apple

Want a MacBook that will last all day on a single charge? Check these models out

Battery life is one of the most important factors in buying any laptop, especially MacBooks. Their battery life is typically average, but there are some standouts. Knowing which MacBook has the best battery life can be rather useful.
Computing

Want a Dell laptop with an RTX 2060? Cross the new XPS 15 off your list

The next iteration of Dell's XPS 15 laptop won't come with an option for an RTX 2060, according to Alienware's Frank Azor. You could always opt for a new Alienware m15 or m17 instead.
Computing

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.