Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits

Windows 8.1 does a lot more than bring back the Start button. These 10 features may give it a much-needed popularity boost with enterprise users.

Jeff Bertolucci, Contributor

June 13, 2013

11 Slides

Hey, Windows 8, who loves ya, baby? Not many, it seems. Microsoft claims the new OS is a blockbuster, of course, and has the numbers to (sort of) prove it.

Exhibit A: Microsoft Windows program manager (and longtime company veteran) Iain McDonald, speaking at the June 3 keynote presentation at TechEd 2013 in New Orleans:

"Now, we've had Windows 8 out for eight months so far. We've been getting lots of feedback. We've sold over 100 million copies, a few more than that, but we'll announce some numbers later this month. We've got over 70,000 apps in the store, and we know we've got hundreds of millions of downloads of those apps. And are we happy with it? Yeah, we're happy with it."

Exhibit B: Antoine Leblond, corporate VP of Windows Program Management, in a May 30 blog post.

"The response to Windows 8 has been substantial -- from new devices to strong app growth to key enhancements to the OS and apps. We've learned from customers on how they are using the product and have received a lot of feedback."

Replace "feedback" with "criticism" in both quotes, and you've got a more accurate take on the state of Windows 8. Adoption has been weak thus far, and studies have shown that consumers aren't thrilled with Windows 8's touch-oriented Modern UI and mobile-style apps.

It's no wonder that Microsoft is working feverishly on Windows 8.1, a soon-to-ship upgrade that addresses many Windows 8 gripes. Most notably, the desktop Start button -- but not the Start menu -- that was cruelly stripped from Windows 8 will be restored in version 8.1, albeit with some changes. And traditionalists who want to bypass the Modern UI entirely will have a boot-to-desktop option.

There's a lot more to Windows 8.1 than a few interface tweaks, however. Microsoft is adding numerous under-the-hood enhancements for its corporate customers, many of whom aren't thrilled with retraining costs associated with a Windows 8.x upgrade.

For Windows 8 and RT users, the Windows 8.1 upgrade will be free when it ships later this year. Microsoft is expected to release a preview version by the end of June.

Click through the slideshow to see 10 lesser-known features that may boost Windows 8.1's popularity, particularly in the enterprise. One unanswered question: How will longtime Windows users -- no doubt the fiercest critics of the Modern UI -- react to Windows 8.1's changes?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Bertolucci


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

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