Windows 8.1 Update 1 is now available for free to everyone running the Windows 8 operating system. At its launch, Windows 8 proved to be a controversial operating system, largely because of its bias towards tablets and touchscreen interfaces. The previous upgrade to Windows 8.1 made strides in the right direction to address consumer concerns, but problems persisted. Update 1 makes further revisions based on the resulting consumer feedback. Every Windows 8 user, particularly those with desktop or laptop computers, should update sooner rather than later.
Here are the biggest changes and improvements that you can expect.
Windows 8.1 introduced a manual setting allowing users to bypass the Start screen and go straight to the desktop. This made a lot of sense for desktop users who didn’t need the Metro-based Start screen the way a tablet user would. Update 1 automatically configures this setting to provide the best user experience for a given device.
With Update 1, applications display in the best style for the device on which they are executed. Applications on a desktop will display in the familiar desktop style, while those on a tablet will continue to display with Metro. A vast majority of Windows 8 users will once again have ready access to their desktops once the update is installed.
The right-click context menus of Windows 8 have also received some attention with Update 1. They now provide all of the familiar options present in previous versions of Windows. Update 1 also updates the Metro-based Start screen with its own context menu that provides new options such as "Pin to taskbar" and resize.
The original version of Windows 8 didn’t provide a quick and simple way to identify or close Metro-based applications. While Windows 8.1 partly addressed this issue, Update 1 goes a step further by providing title bars for all such apps. The title bars appear automatically whenever you move the mouse pointer to the top-right corner of the screen, so they don’t get in the way of the full-screen experience. The title bars also provide controls to minimize and close apps, as well as split the screen.
Update 1 has dropped the memory requirements from 2 to 1 gigabytes and the installation footprint from 32 to 16 gigabytes. Thanks to the lower system requirements, you’ll be able to install Windows 8 on older machines and possibly even netbooks.
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