Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 - and restores start button

Update to Microsoft's operating system also includes better search functionality and improved multi-tasking

Microsoft has released Windows 8.1, the long-awaited update to its current operating system Windows 8. The update will be free to those already running Windows 8 but cost £75 for those running Windows 7.

(Click here to read our guide to installing Windows 8.1)

The new software, which is now available for download from the Windows Store, addresses several criticisms of Windows 8; restoring the start button and the option for a traditional desktop style interface.

Windows 8’s user interface was essentially a series of tiles, designed to unify the operating system’s aesthetic across multiple Microsoft platforms including mobile devices and the Xbox.

However, it’s reliance on touch as a navigation method proved unpopular, with critics and the public demanding the return of a more traditional interface. Windows 8.1 is still a compromise between traditional mouse and keyboard in put and touch, but Microsoft will be hoping that this time they've got the balance right.

The update comes at an uncertain time for the company, with CEO Steve Ballmer slated to retire in less than a year; a decision that was announced just two months after he outlined a vision for Microsoft’s future.

Ballmer’s ‘ One Strategy, One Microsoft’ plan hinges on focusing the company on “devices and services”, but its their key device, the laptop-tablet hybrid Surface, that has failed to take off with consumers.

It’s hoped that the update will improve sales of the new Surface 2 device as well as stem the general decline of PC sales, a market that has been overwhelmed by smartphones and tablets.

Windows 8.1 includes an update search function powered by Bing that aggregates online and computer-based content.

Windows 8.1: what’s new?

  • The start button has returned but not as the traditional start menu – but users can click it to move back and forth between a desktop and tiled layout. One long press accesses system settings.
  • A new app locker can be accessed by swiping down on the start screen – an arrangement familiar to Android users
  • An upgraded search function (powered by Bing) lets you search your hard drive and the internet at the same time
  • Better multi-tasking functionality allows users to view multiple apps at once, tweaking how much screen space each takes up
  • Users can choose to boot to their app locker or their desktop – not just to the start menu
  • The lock screen can be turned into a slideshow with pictures store on the hard drive or sky drive
  • New customization options including backgrounds that move as you swipe the screen and extra colour themes
  • Updated start screen gives more variation for tile sizes – including both an extra small and an extra large option

 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

    Day In a Page

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border