You have been using Windows 8 for a while now and becoming more familiar with the new interface. The tiles are quite a departure for any Windows veteran. I have found them interesting and a fresh way to start programs. But if you are like me you must miss the “Start” button down in the left corner.
How many times by habit have you click there to not find the start program list. Additionally, using the charms bar and having to switch to the desktop every time has become something to get used to. Well, Microsoft has been listening to all the complaints concerning Windows 8 and has written an update to try and address all those issues. Windows 8.1 is here and ready to be installed. So how do you get it on your computer?
The best way for users to get the final release of Windows 8.1 is to go to the Windows Store. If you go there on a device using Windows 8, you will find there the Windows 8.1 Preview page. After installing the Windows Update Standalone installer package, you will be prompted to restart your Windows 8 computer and you will see this text.
Installing it this way you need to have a Microsoft account, at least initially. You can switch to a local account later. If you are running Windows 8 Enterprise, you cannot update via the Store. Likewise, you’ll need to use an alternative mechanism if you want to set up a dual boot system or perform a clean install on an existing partition.
Developers and IT pros should start at the Windows 8.1 ISO Download page, where links are available to download ISO files that can be burned to a DVD, copied to a bootable USB flash drive, or mounted in a VM for installation. ISO files are available in 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) versions in 14 languages. This page also includes the universal product key for the preview: NTTX3-RV7VB-T7X7F-WQYYY-9Y92F.
The pic below shows the “Start Button” back where it was.
What’s New in Windows 8.1?
This upgrade is no minor software pack, it’s a major rewrite to Windows 8. In it is a whole slew of new features an modifications to make the user experience better. There is a long list of enhancements but I have included just a short list of the most significant.
- A Start hint that appears on the taskbar, where the Windows 7 Start button is located
- More flexible Start screen customization options
- The option to go directly to the desktop instead of the Start screen
- Much tighter integration with SkyDrive
- More options for arranging modern (Metro) apps side by side
- New “first party” (Microsoft-authored) Windows 8.1 apps
- A redesigned Windows Store
- New capabilities for third-party Windows 8.1 apps
- A greatly enhanced PC Settings module that duplicates the desktop Control Panel
- Support for smaller tablets
- Internet Explorer 11, with significant improvements in tab handling and security
- Some new capabilities for the on-screen keyboard on touch devices
- Integrated search
Some features and apps that will be in the final release of Windows 8.1 are not yet in the preview. This includes a significant update to the Mail client, which Microsoft has shown in demos but did not include in the preview release.
A few features that were in Windows 8 are not in the Windows 8.1 Preview at all. Some have been changed radically, with features removed, at least for the preview.