On October 17, Microsoft launched the general rollout of Windows 8.1, the first major update to its revolutionary operating system, Windows 8, which was released last year. It fixes many of users’ concerns with the OS, and works to continue the vision to merge the tablet and PC market.
The main purpose of Windows 8.1 was to change the public perception of the product, implementing mostly positive changes to the OS. A major change was the re-addition of the Start button, which many users were calling for. Other changes were the introduction of a universal search function, a redesign of the Xbox Music app, an improved All Apps view, the ability to run up to 4 apps side by side, and more.
All these features are only minor changes, but it isn’t until you actually sit down and use it for a while that you can appreciate everything. Microsoft almost literally tweaked every feature in Windows, making for an overall improvement in performance and flow. For example, the transition from the Modern UI (formerly known as “Metro”) to the traditional desktop is less jarring, and there are now options such as making the computer boot to the desktop and the Start screen defaulting to the All Apps view, which make the experience friendlier to the user who wants to stay in the desktop environment. Plus, the overall experience feels more snappy and ordinary tasks can get done quicker.
Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade for all existing Windows 8 users, and it is available as a download in the Windows Store app. For Windows 7, Vista, and XP users, it costs $119.99 for the Core edition, and $199.99 for the Pro edition.