Windows 8.1 Update: Everything you need to know about the changes to Microsoft's OS

Easier to navigate, more customization and - whisper it - the return of the Start Menu?

Microsoft has announced that the next major update to Windows 8 will make the operating system easier to use with a keyboard and mouse – as well as promising a return of the sorely-missed Start Menu.

Although Windows 8 offered perhaps the most substantial changes to the company's operating system for several decades, the software has not proven popular, with recent figures suggesting that even the soon-to-be abandoned Windows XP is more widely used.

This was mainly due to the introduction of the new Start Screen, a landing page which offers a grid of tiles displaying various programs and slices of live information about the weather, for example, or news updates.

Unfortunately, the Start Screen was primarily designed with touchscreen devices in mind, and the lack of customization and awkward navigation made the technology difficult to work on regular PCs. These latest revisions from Microsoft show that the company is doing its best to remedy the miss-steps of its over-ambitious operating system.

These changes include restoring more functionality to the taskbar with users now able to pin Windows Store apps to it, and access it within full-screen apps by moving the cursor to the bottom of the screen. This makes it easy to switch between programs as well as reducing the 'locked in' feeling of full-screen programs.

The teased image of the updated Start Menu

There’s also more functionality on the Start Screen itself, with the power and search buttons moved to the top right-hand corner and a new tile available for quick access to PC settings - rather than forcing users to hunt these out via a panel on the right.

And as for the start menu, well, this won’t be available in Windows 8.1 Update (a free download for Windows 8.1 users) but it will be arriving sometime in the future. From the sneak peek that Microsoft offered at its Build conference, it looks like the feature will blend the start menu from Windows 7 with the Windows 8-style tiles (see above).

All in all these revisions do a lot to bring Windows 8 back from the brink, making it more customizable and easier to navigate like the Windows desktops of old.

It also means it's less like the prescriptive, full-screen, all-about-the-apps experience that Microsoft had been trying to rip from iOS - and that can only be a good thing. Windows may be trying to make an OS that works on tablets, but they shouldn't neglect their core users.

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

    £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading web hosting pr...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn