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3/7/2014
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Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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Windows 8.1 Update 1: 10 Key Changes

Windows 8.1 Update 1 makes the Modern UI and Start screen a little friendlier for the mouse-and-keyboard crowd. But it won't silence critics.
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Update 1... already?
Microsoft is prepping yet another Windows 8.x update, one it plans to make available the first week of April, according to various reports. As its name suggests, Windows 8.1 Update 1 isn't exactly a dramatic overhaul of Windows 8.1, which Microsoft released just five months ago. Rather, it offers incremental improvements designed to make Windows 8's touch-oriented Modern UI a bit more appealing to mouse-and-keyboard users.

Window 8's interface has been controversial since its official launch in 2012. Does the hybrid UI represent the future of computing? Is it useful? Half-baked? An ambitious experiment gone hideously wrong?

More pundits these days seem to be migrating to the hideous camp. For instance, here are two recent -- and very bearish -- takes from seasoned Windows bloggers Paul Thurrott and Woody Leonard.

In a Feb. 9 post titled "What the Heck is Happening to Windows?" Thurrott wrote:

Windows 8 is not well-designed. It's a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word.

Leonard, in a Feb. 10 article ("The sorry state of Windows 8.1 Update 1") for InfoWorld, was just as scathing:

Personally, I don't see anything about Update 1 that warrants a complete reversal of faith; it simply lumbers along in the ill-defined path of its predecessors. Windows 8 is bad, as I've been saying for years, and Windows 8.1 did little to improve the situation. Win 8.1 Update 1 is just more of the same, piled higher and deeper.

InformationWeek's Michael Endler takes a slightly more positive view in a Feb. 28 column:

Windows 8's reliance on touch alienated many longtime Microsoft customers, and Windows 8.1 appears to have undone only some of the damage to the product's reputation. The update coming this spring appears to still lack a Start menu, which will disappoint desktop users. Still, a version of Windows 8 that works better on non-touch devices can only help.

Tech pundit criticism doesn't  mean that Windows 8.x (and its oddball, dual-interface design) is doomed. However, data points from the field, including declining PC shipments and surging tablet and Chromebook sales, suggest the OS is in serious trouble.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 is a minor upgrade, not something designed to correct the operating system's core flaws. On the plus side, it does manage to make the Modern UI a bit more palatable to mouse-and-keyboard users by blurring the boundaries between the Windows desktop and the tile-oriented Start screen. Are its changes welcome? Yes. Will they be enough to silence Windows 8's critics? Not even close.

But, hey, decide for yourself. Click through the slideshow to see 10 significant changes in Windows 8.1 Update 1.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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anon1746232690
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anon1746232690,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/15/2014 | 8:24:13 PM
windows 8.1 awesome
Those updates look awesome can't wait.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/13/2014 | 6:29:39 AM
Re : Windows 8.1 Update 1: 10 Key Changes
@ UberGoober, there is hardly any doubt that Windows 7 was the zenith of Windows experience. It was so stable and smooth that it made users forget about the failed Windows Vista. But I think there is no point in sticking to an old thing just because it was easy to use. I have read the reviews of some users who happened to have the leaked Windows 8.1 update 1. Those reviews are really positive especially for mouse/keyboard users.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/11/2014 | 11:38:51 PM
Re: Not so bad
Update 1 is considered minor I believe. The .2 would be for a major release ... Like 8.1
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
3/11/2014 | 9:38:31 PM
Re: Not so bad
Agreed, a few right steps in the right direction have been taken with the UI aspect. I wonder why Microsoft did not choose a different naming format for this update. I mean, first there was Windows 8, and then come Windows 8.1 wouldn't it be easier for consumers if this was called Windows 8.2 rather than Windows 8.1 update 1. 
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
3/11/2014 | 9:26:10 PM
Re: Yawn...
Good points all, especially about there being shades of gray between the definition of consumption and production. If someone was watching a video lecture (long term investment) on a desktop or mobile device, then I would classify it as a productive activity. In which case the question would become whether it would be right to classify an activity as productive without user input, YouTube videos on the other hand would fall into the consumption category.

Statues updates and Tweets are mostly created with 160 characters. A website that has a large number of both mobile and desktop users will have a ton of data that can identify whether 500+ character posts are coming from mobile devices or desktops.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/11/2014 | 2:01:19 PM
Re : Windows 8.1 Update 1: 10 Key Changes
@ Laurianne, I second you in this. Tablets are no more entertainment devices or something that people would like to have in their hands only because they it is in other people's hands. People who require travelling a lot either within the city or without find it necessary to have a tablet with them for connectivity.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2014 | 8:07:13 PM
Re: What is the point?
@Mark... I'm not sure why someone would want the modern UI version of an app on a desktop.  I like 8.1 but the app versions.. I'm not a fan of them.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2014 | 7:59:02 PM
Not so bad
I was a big critic of Windows 8 but with 8.1 they have fixed many mistakes. With update 1 they are fixing more. I have upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.1 and so far I am happy with it. One of my few complaints is making you use IE11. By forcing IE on everyone I think they are forcing users to use another browser.
Mark532010
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Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
3/9/2014 | 12:17:28 PM
What is the point?
But do any of those people you see in the boardroom use a Windows tablet? Will these tweaks (some kind of title and task bar that sounds quite difficult to use on a small form tablet) make people run out and start using Windows tablets?

 

I do not own a windows touchscreen of any kind so I have zero knowledge on that side. For the desktop I dont see how any of this would make me want to switch to the Modern app version of anything. That it can (kind of) mimic the desktop behaviour seems bizarre. What is the point?

Mark

 
twilliamson423
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twilliamson423,
User Rank: Strategist
3/7/2014 | 5:55:34 PM
Re: Yawn...
I attended a security conference just his morning and everyone I saw taking notes was using a tablet of some kind. The only people not using them were the presenters and I would imagine that was mainly due to needing to connect to projectors and use flash drives with their presentations on them.

We have a salesman working in our company now who only uses a Surface Pro tablet for all of his computing. He loves it because he can take it to meet a customer and enter quotes on the spot and then return to the office and dock it to print the quotes, place the orders, and whatever else he used to do by lugging a laptop around all day.

And as for using Windows 8.x on a desktop, I have no problems. Some of these fixes actually seem like a step backwards to me.
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