Windows 8.1 Update 1 Released – Some Interesting Features

Within this week Microsoft is arranging a developers conference in San Francisco. This is an important event before the release of Windows 8.1 update 1 on April 8th. There may be several things that may be discussed, but the most important thing is the development of Windows Phone 8.1.

More things to Learn

In order to compete with Siri, it is going to launch Cortana. The major thing will be the announcement of the update to Windows 8.1. It is good news to mouse-and-keyboard users of Windows operating system, according to its VP Joe Belfiore.

Though “Woody Leonhard of windowssecrets.com” doesn’t speculate drastic changes to this new update. Neither does he mention that Windows 7 or Vista or XP users are going to jump the bandwagon.  Just to follow suit with Microsoft’s idea of contemplating change to its old OS users.

What are the Windows 8.1 Update 1 Features and Expectations

The changes are trivial and you will not notice anything drastic to hail the updates. But truly speaking Microsoft has heard it’s mouse-and-keyboard customers and is making some amendments in this update.

Changes Not Noticeable but Significant …

The thing that is much worthy to talk about in this update is the “Boot to Desktop” feature. Suppose you are owning a PC and installed the Windows 8.1 freshly and over that Update 1 is made, then you will directly boot to classic desktop. Even new Windows 8 PCs without touch-screens should have the same feature.

This will save lot of tech-support calls for Microsoft, as many customers are requesting this feature. In-case this didn’t workout for you, there is a small tweak that needs to be made.

Right Click Desktop Taskbar, click Properties, select the Navigation tab and check the option that says “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”

With Win8.1 update 1, the installer scans for touch-screen devices and if it doesn’t find one, it will take the above option.

Some Changes to the Start Screen

It may not be that significant but these are helpful for mouse users. There are two new icons on the Start Screen that come in handy for the casual Windows user. windows_8.1_update_1_start_screen_features

[Image Source : windowssecrets.com]

So before you enter the desktop mode, you decide to “get out” of the OS, then this power off  icon just right to the user-name will be useful. Using this you can turn off the machine, switch the user, sign out, or go straight to Sleep mode.

The Search icon is for the adapting users of Windows 8. An advanced user already knows that by going to the Start Screen and typing some text, you can automatically search for anything. But for previous users who are more accustomed to click something to get Search, this will be useful.

Changes to Window Title Bar of Metro Apps

When the Windows 8 Metro apps are in full-screen, you will get a title bar. The bar appears when you hover the mouse to the top of the screen and disappears when you move away from it.

The look of this window title bar looks like that of the classic version of Windows. It  has a “_” and “X” icons at the upper right hand side to minimize and close. There is also a drop-down list of options when you click the icon on the upper left hand side. For example the “Weather” metro app can be seen here.

weather_metro_appYou can split the screen to the left or right, minimize the app or close it.

Changes to Support for Universal Apps

The Update 1 brings compatibility of apps. If an app is developed for one device, it works on other devices also. For example if you have developed an app for Windows 8.1 Desktop, it works on other devices like Windows Phone 8.1 and Xbox one.

Changes to Windows Store App Navigation

The Store apps are one of the significant features of Windows 8.1. Now the navigation of these apps has become lot simpler. There are more options and more clickable elements in the new update.

Changes in Web Browsing

In IE11, which is the new metro browser for Windows 8 has brought new developments. Now there is seamless browsing without any interruptions. Suppose you have left somewhere in the browsing mode, you can continue from where you left off.

Changes to Taskbar and Start Screen

Without this new update, it was difficult to pin the Metro apps to the taskbar. Now going with the rumors, you can pin them. You can also right-click on the tile and have several options. This reduces the headache of customizing the quick-access feature.

windows_8_1_tile_features_update_1

The Start Screen has also some changes. Just like the opening screen, you also have the “power-off” and “search” icons on the top right hand side. These are useful features if you are mouse-and-keyboard user.

search_shut_down_icons_windows_8_1_start_screen 

Changes to Performance Improvements

You may think that only UI changes are being done in the Update 1. But there are significant performance improvements like better memory efficiency via Process Lifetime Manager and better system compatibility with IE11.

The other significant improvement is in the RAM and footprints. Earlier it was required 2GB RAM to run Windows 8.1 system, which has been reduced to 1GB in this new update. Also the installation footprint has decreased from 32GB to 16GB.

This is a significant improvement when the competition becomes rough with Chrome OS. Also some modern Metro UI apps require lot of memory which has been lot reduced with this new update instead of running in the background. This will also speed up start-up times.

For the ultrabooks, it will have some important SSD storage saved.

Changes to App Notifications

Earlier in 8.1, when you installed a new Metro app, a new tile was ‘automatically’ added to the Start Screen. But this changed with the new update. So if you want to pin any new app as a tile to the Start Screen, you have to do it ‘manually’.

You will also get a notification when a new app is added and that will be pointed to the Apps screen. You will have a label NEW beside the app which is highlighted in the list of apps. That notification all depends on the color scheme of the Apps Screen.

windows_8_1_apps_highlight_notification

Changes to Hot Corners

This features is one of the hottest in 8.1. If you move your mouse cursor to any of the corners of the desktop screen, there will be some shortcuts. This is for non-touch users. But for tablet like devices, you can use swipe like gestures.

But some-times these movements can create confusion. Normally a Windows user would like to minimize or close a window and can move to the corners. At the same time these hot corners come up annoyingly. In order to minimize this ‘clumsiness‘, Update 1 has added longer time delay before hot corners are triggered.

Conclusion

Whether you like this update or not, Microsoft is making it mandatory in-order to have any new patches installed in further release. This benign attempt is to make mouse-and-keyboard users happy and let the dragon of touch-UI capabilities shower less fire on the calm.

Also Windows is toying with the idea of a FREE OS for more important devices like Phone etc. Keeping in view of this, this update should make existing 8.1 users happy and one should not expect too much from a common update like this.

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