Windows 8.1 Is An Incremental Improvement From Windows 8

Senior Contributor
10.17.13

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If you haven’t already had to download it, Windows 8.1 is officially here. You’re probably waiting for it to finish downloading as you read this. So, what’s new? Not much, actually. Mostly it’s just a bunch of under-the-hood tweaks, but they are at least welcome ones.

Boot To Desktop

Everybody hated Windows 8 because it was neither fish nor fowl. The desktop was just crippled enough to make it useless if you hated the tile interface, and the tile interface was a little too timid and hard to use unless you had a touchscreen to play with. Obviously, fixing this was the first order of business.

It’s buried in Properties, but once you find it, you’ll be all set, and at least you have the option. And the functionality has been overhauled so that you can actually use it as your primary environment.

The Start Button Is Back

Technically it never left, but it’s had functionality restored. If you missed this, and many seem to, Microsoft has heard your cries. It’ll still do that annoying interface switch, though.

Search Is Improved

It’s still going to try to lock you to Bing, but at least the internal search is a lot more effective. It feels a lot like the Xbox 360’s search function, in that you now can literally find anything on your computer now. It’s actually fairly useful in that respect and makes it feel more open.

But Frustrations Remain

That said, Microsoft hasn’t given up entirely on the more annoying aspects. Want to run two web browsers at the same time? Microsoft hates you. Want to view your battery time? It’s still hidden. Want to get rid of Bing in IE? You might as well download Chrome.

Essentially, Microsoft is trying to be more like Apple, and it doesn’t work. They’ll push the App Store pretty hard, and it’s pretty, but few people want to buy third-party software from Microsoft. The entire appeal of Windows is that it’s flexible. OK, so it’s often buggy and broken, and it’d be nice to choose what you want to use at work, but if you’ve got a Windows device you can generally do what you want with it.

Microsoft is trying to take that away, and unsurprisingly, users are rebelling. If you’ve got Windows 8, this will offer some welcome tweaks, but if you hate it, this isn’t going to change your mind.

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