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Microsoft messed up with Windows 8. The operating system wasn’t a complete failure, and it contained lots of valuable upgrades. Unfortunately, these upgrades were overshadowed by Microsoft’s confusing decision to force users into accepting stupid interface changes.
Those confusing changes included forcing users to boot into the little-used Metro or Modern UI, along with the removal of the Start button and Start menu – things that had made Windows the world’s best operating system since Windows 95.
With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has made small steps in the right direction, and the new Windows 8.1 upgrade will be enough to convince users to finally make the jump to Windows 8. Although the update won’t officially be released until Fall 2013, you can download a preview today.
The Start Button is back…sort of
Hey guys, Microsoft has heard your complaints and they’ve decided to bring back the Start button. Hooray! Oh wait, the Start button doesn’t actually do anything? It just takes you to the Modern UI or ‘All Apps’ screen? Well, it’s better than no Start button, I suppose. I also like how you can move the Start button and the taskbar to any corner of your screen.
Instant access to a power user menu
Another confusing problem with Windows 8 was the inability to access simple menu settings. New Windows 8 users couldn’t intuitively figure out how to power down their system, for example. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft is adding instant access to a number of important system features that ‘power users’ will access on a regular basis. You can view those power options above. To access this menu, simply right click on the Start button.
Hot corners can now be disabled
If you’re using Windows 8, then you may have learned to stay away from the corners of your screen. When you move your mouse to the corners of your screen, it automatically activates “hot corners”, which are basically navigation menus and settings menus. Microsoft made it impossible to disable hot corners in Windows 8. In Windows 8.1, you can now disable this setting.
Multitasking is one major advantage that Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets have over their iOS rivals. And judging by recent commercials, Microsoft is clearly trying to exploit that advantage. With Windows 8, users can have two windows open side by side. With Windows 8.1, users can have an unlimited number of apps open side by side, and the number of multitasked apps is only limited by the resolution of your screen.
Other minor changes
-New tile sizes, allowing for better customization of the modern apps screen
-An ‘All apps’ drawer that can be accessed simply by swiping up on the Start screen or by clicking a small arrow on the bottom left corner of the Start screen
-Move multiple Start screen tiles at once
-Add custom wallpapers to the modern UI (why wasn’t this an option in the first place?)
-Redesigned Xbox Music app with Radio functionality
-Bing search for desktop
-No more ’10 tab’ limit for IE10; Windows 8.1 allows IE10 to support up to 100 simultaneous tabs
-Better onscreen keyboard
Windows 8.1 addresses many of the issues people had with Windows 8. But why didn’t Microsoft simply add these changes to the original version of Windows 8? And will these changes be enough to get users to switch back to Windows 8? Wait until Fall 2013 to find out.