More Details about Windows 8 Update 1, Due April

John Lister's picture

A leaked set of documents reveals some additional changes planned for Windows 8 due next month. The changes are aimed at making the operating system easier to use with a mouse and keyboard, but without returning to the traditional Windows desktop interface.

The free Windows 8 update will be officially released in April through Microsoft's Windows Update system. It will be known as Windows 8.1 Update 1, a sign that the changes won't be as major as the previous update from version 8 to 8.1 (which was released October 2013).

The details became public as Microsoft briefly made the update available on its website. That was most likely a mistake, though it's also possible it was a deliberate "leak" in order to stir up a media frenzy and interest in the changes. (Source:

Windows 8 Taskbar Improved for Desktop Users

The biggest change in Windows 8.1 Update 1 is the taskbar. The taskbar is where the Start button is located; next to it are icons and shortcuts to programs that run on the system.

With the new changes, the taskbar can now display two different types of icons: those for Windows Store apps which run in the new-style user interface introduced in Windows 8 (also known as "Metro"), and those for desktop programs which run in the traditional Windows desktop interface. (Source:

If the user clicks on an icon in the taskbar, Windows will automatically switch to the appropriate interface. That saves the need to manually switch interfaces first, then find and launch the software. The latter was one of the biggest complaints of Windows 8 to date.

Windows 8 to Boot into Desktop Mode, Depending on Hardware

Close study of the code in the updates suggests that there will also be a major change for anyone who buys a computer with Windows 8.1 (including this new update) already installed. If the computer is designed for use with a keyboard and mouse rather than touchscreen, it will ship with Windows configured to start up in the traditional desktop mode by default.

Another notable change comes in the new interface when running Windows Store apps. Moving the mouse to the top of the screen will now reveal a new display known as the title bar. This includes buttons to minimize or close the app, similar to those used in program windows in the traditional desktop interface.

What's Your Opinion?

If you use Windows 8, do you think these changes will make using the operating system any easier? If you don't yet use Windows 8, does the news that new desktop PCs will boot into the more familiar Windows interface make you more likely to purchase a new PC running Windows 8? Lastly, do you think these are productive tweaks, or is Microsoft simply losing the battle in trying to make one system for both traditional and touchscreen PCs?

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wallflower27986's picture

I can hardly wait for the update. The learning curve has been hard to climb and I still have trouble doing some things so an update might just make navigation easier. I think 8 is faster and I have already updated to 8.1 so I'm ready to roll with this next update and have high hopes for using it.

bigjohnt's picture

I also run Linux, but, I am also a windows fan.
They both have their place.

bigjohnt's picture

I'm with you, wall.

rcummings641's picture

I've been using Stardock's Start8 application which appears to already do what this new update will. I don't know if or how this update will affect Start8, and it may make it useless. But this is something Windows should have thought of to begin with. I'm glad to see most of the arrogant Windows 8 executives gone now.

bigjohnt's picture

I also use and like this app. We will see....

BikeMobile's picture

Double-crossed myself when I tried to improve the longevity of a new SSD drive C: by moving the Users folder to a hard drive D:. Now I can't take advantage of the 8.1 upgrade without undoing a lot of customizing. And 8.1 Update 1 is still another fruit just out of reach for the moment. When someone says the latest patches give me back the capabilities to set fonts for icons, and other simple customizations I had been used to with earlier versions, then I may consider reverting to a standard install and updating from there. Otherwise, ... How long till Windows 9?; if ever. Perception is, if not everything, very persuasive.

philipreeves46's picture

I don't care what Microsoft does with Windows 8. I'm very happy with Windows 7 on both my computers. Therefore, I see no reason to change operating systems, until I have to replace one of them. When that time comes, the computer I buy will have on it whatever flavor of Windows Microsoft is selling at that time.

John Bowling's picture

Well sounds like a good move. I've already after 4 days of torture getting used to 8.1, and making it look like 7, got my 1 machine with 8.1 booting into desktop mode.
I still use 3 other machines with 7 thank goodness! :-)

oldmanwest's picture

I still have a working Win 98 laptop. It's retired now. Keep it for nostalgia reasons. Win 2000 replaced my 98. A good thing as it was a much improved OS. My Win XP replaced that. A good thing as it was a much improved OS. My three Vista machines (yuck) got a much needed upgrade to Win 7 after it came out. A good thing as it was a much improved OS. My old Win XP home office machine just got replaced with one of my old Vista machines (that I had upgraded to Win 7) because of the discontinuing support for XP. Works like a charm. One of the other Vista machines got an upgrade to Win 8.1. A good thing as it is a much improved OS. Summary... I have working machines with Win 98, XP, 7 and 8.1, (not including the Apple and Android devices.) Which ones run the best? Win 8.1. Now I have three machines with 8.1 on them. If you don't like Win 8.1 it is either because you are scared of it or just too lazy to learn how to use it... Win 8.1 is a good thing. Win 8.1 update 1 is just going to be that much better and easier to use, especially on older machines that are not touch screen.

darylhutchins's picture

This is getting really tedious!
Seriously, the industry can't find anything better to whip themselves into a "frenzy" over than minor tweaks to the Windows OS?
If you're not on a touch device (and let's face it, no-one does anything too serious on them) click the damned desktop tile and get on with it. If they've taken your Start Button, don't bleat about it ... put it back ... it's free!
Normal users would not know the difference from Win7.
It is nice to see MS arrogance finally wilting a little ... if only a little.

fejoas's picture

I have Win 8.1 Pro. It's fabulous! You don't need to download a third party start button. Simply right click on the desktop task bar, click on properties then navigation tab. Check the first box under start screen and uncheck the second box. Computer will boot to desktop and operate exactly like Win 7.

I also have a Win 8 mouse which also makes navigating Win 8 a breeze:
$18.00 at Costco.