Software // Operating Systems
News
4/18/2014
09:36 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Windows 8.1 Update: 8 Tips To Avoid Headaches

Windows 8.1 Update offers the best blend of legacy and Modern apps yet -- but only if your device is properly configured.

"Properties," which brings up the "Taskbar and Navigation properties" menu. The "Taskbar" tab lets you choose whether Windows Store apps can be pinned to the taskbar, and the "Navigation" tab includes the boot-to-desktop and hot corner controls implemented last fall.

2. You can do almost anything from the desktop.
If you want to pretend the tiled Start screen doesn't exist, Windows 8.1 Update makes it easy to do so, even if you still want to use a few Modern apps.

If your machine is configured to pin Windows Store apps to the taskbar, you can launch them directly from the desktop. They still launch into full-screen mode but otherwise behave more like traditional desktop apps. Modern titles now feature a title bar, for example, though it's hidden unless you mouse to the top of the screen. It includes minimize and maximize buttons, and when an app is minimized, Windows now jumps to the previously-used app, instead of to the Start screen.

Windows Store apps can now be launched from the taskbar.
Windows Store apps can now be launched from the taskbar.

Another change: The taskbar remains accessible even while Modern apps are in full-screen mode. Similar to the title bar, the taskbar is invisible unless you mouse to the bottom of the screen. It displays not only pinned software, but also any running apps, both Modern-style and legacy. The taskbar includes a thumbnail preview of each app, some of which include controls for playing songs or performing other minor tasks that don't require the full screen.

The taskbar remains accessible even when Modern apps run in full-screen mode.
The taskbar remains accessible even when Modern apps run in full-screen mode.

Taken together, the changes mean you can not only launch Windows Store apps from the desktop, but also switch seamlessly between Modern and legacy apps.

Windows 8.1 Update doesn’t let you ditch the Start screen completely. If you want to pin a new app to the taskbar, you have to do so from the Start screen’s All Apps view (see tip 7).

Open Windows Store apps are viewable on the taskbar as thumbnails, some of which, such as the Xbox Music App, include basic controls.
Open Windows Store apps are viewable on the taskbar as thumbnails, some of which, such as the Xbox Music App, include basic controls.

3. Windows 8.1 Update makes it easy to monitor storage space.
Windows 8.1 Update lets you monitor how much space your apps take up -- which is a good thing, since Microsoft, hoping to facilitate

Next Page

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

Previous
2 of 4
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2014 | 6:10:42 PM
slowly but surely

MS is finally listening to users. They could have avoided a lot of criticism from the start by just getting all of this in the first release of windows 8. The main point is that they are finally making "improvements". One thing I don't understand is why they are forcing the latest version of IE. They are forcing users to find another browser.

 

jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
4/19/2014 | 12:00:54 PM
Re: Does Microsoft have a clue?
Whether or not you like Windows 8x or even Microsoft, this newest update, with its obvious shift back in the direction of non-touch, demonstrates that they are listening to customer feedback. From some of the comments, it sounds like some folks might be happier if they left the broken / fragmented original version of Windows 8 intact rather than put efforts into building in customer feedback.

I've only been a Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Update user for about a week. I was waiting until that first major update came out. For the naysayers, Vista with SP 1 was a very solid product. Feedback was received and incorporated. From my limited use of Windows 8.1 so far, I can say that the touch features are handy on my new Dell Precision notebook with a touch screen. It also boots about 20 times faster than Windows 7 on the same machine. I'll give Microsoft solid marks for recognizing the issue and addressing some of the concerns and complaints from its customers.
heatlesssun
IW Pick
50%
50%
heatlesssun,
User Rank: Strategist
4/18/2014 | 4:05:38 PM
Re: Does Microsoft have a clue?
I'd say this is a very logical and fair assessment of this update. 8.1 Update is clearly better for keyboard and mouse users accustomed to the nearly 20 year old UI introduced in Windows 95. And while not the most elegant OS, the level of flexibility and capability is through the roof. 8.1 Update can effectively run on a mobile device with the same level of hardware a base iPad all to the fastest and most powerful desktops around. Adding back the Start Menu will only increase the incredible about of functionality. You speak of having lots of money and buying separate devices. And there you have hit to purpose of Windows 8. Why not spend less money for one device that can do what otherwise would require two devices?
heatlesssun
50%
50%
heatlesssun,
User Rank: Strategist
4/18/2014 | 3:56:49 PM
Re: Does Microsoft have a clue?
The majority of the changes that have been introduced since 8.0 RTM have been additive mostly in the form of new configuration options or naturally occurring behavioral changes based on the input type. In fact most of the changes introduced have been for the specific purpose of NOT having to relearn anything for keyboard and mouse users while keeping touch behavrior the same. Modern apps in the task, a title bar with close and minimize buttons, defaulting to desktop apps instead of modern apps for mouse driven devices, all of these a major changes in this update that require zero relearning, they are simply making things more consistent for desktop users in a fashion that they've see for decades.

 

DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2014 | 3:29:21 PM
Re: Does Microsoft have a clue?
It is getting better, but nothing in the Win8.1Update makes me want to give up Win7 on the desktop.  Still too much of a learning curve for the existing Win7 customer base and I'm sure most corporations feel the same.  Most will be glad they skipped Win8 just as most were glad they skipped Vista.  Bandaids don't help when the wound needs surgery to fix.  Plus I'm not so sure a "kinder and gentler" Nadella-Myerson duo is going to do better but at the same time they've got to try very hard to do worse.
MiltinSB
50%
50%
MiltinSB,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2014 | 3:09:39 PM
Re: Does Microsoft have a clue?
I'm not questioning that W8.1 Update is a big improvement.  My comment addressed the volatility of the UI.  Microsoft seems to think that the W8 user base has nothing better to do than keep relearning how to use its product, and probably with no end in sight.

Sheer arrogance heaped upon the incompetence of their initial design decisions.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
4/18/2014 | 2:38:57 PM
Re: Does Microsoft have a clue?
I stand by the assertion that Windows 8.1 Update is the best version of Windows 8-- but I admit, I toyed with a paragraph along these lines: "Windows 8.1 Update offers the best blend yet of Windows Store and legacy apps, but to the OS's critics, that might not mean much; Windows 8 set the bar pretty low." I didn't end up including the passage, but it seems from the comments so far that concept resonates with some of our readers.

To be fair, I think Windows 8.1 Update is fine. It could be better-- and I think Microsoft showed at Build that it will be, whether in another 8.x update or Windows 9. But I find the update very usable. It's definitely made me more productive than I was with Windows 8.1, and it's miles ahead of Windows 8, which I found to be more trouble than it was worth. If money were no object, I'd probably still buy a MacBook Pro instead of a new Windows PC, and then just deal with a separate tablet if I wanted to touch. And if money were a definite object, I'd have to think long and hard about the merits of Chromebooks versus cheaper Windows devices. But I think it's obvious by now that all major computing platforms have merits and disadvantages. Windows 8 was a mess, and Microsoft is still cleaning it up, but by and large, Windows 8.1 Update is pretty good.

But for a lot of people, Windows 8.1 Update's improved usability might not mean much. A lot of people consider Windows XP usable, as you point out. Microsoft reportedly had to dramatically reduce the cost of extended XP service for some larger enterprise customers, so I think the current Microsoft leadership appreciates that a lot of customers simply haven't felt incentivized to upgrade.

Satya Nadella and Microsoft have been riding a hot streak the last few weeks. But they'll face challenges over the next couple. First, they'll announce earnings, and even though revenue will surely be massive, analysts will pay attention to several potential weak spots-- Surface sales, Windows revenue (especially commercial revenue, which will speak to post-XP retention), enterprise and cloud revenue (which will surely grow-- but now that Microsoft is giving away a lot of its Windows licenses, will Azure, MySQL, Office 365 et al grow fast enough?); etc. And then we'll get the OS market share reports around May 1, which will further speak to post-XP fallout, as well as Windows 8.1 Update adoption. So for those who are annoyed with Microsoft, the company will have to answer some tough questions soon.
MiltinSB
50%
50%
MiltinSB,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2014 | 1:25:10 PM
Does Microsoft have a clue?
Seriously? How many iterations is it going to take for Microsoft to stabilize Windows 8?

Somebody at Microsoft must think it's a good idea to keep changing the UI for the whole W8 user base, as if users have nothing better to do but follow along like sheep.  

Do they really expect the user community to keep screwing around with their incremental fixes to a flawed concept?
cetude
100%
0%
cetude,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2014 | 11:49:30 AM
Windows 8 is a flop
I have a better tip: Don't buy it until Windows 9 comes out.  Windows 8 is a flop. 
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.