You know that I have been running Windows 8 on my second PC ever since Microsoft released the first public preview version of the operating system. While it is not my primary PC, I do use it regularly for things like Steam, browsing the apps store and to test programs on Windows 8.
I'm looking forward to the release of Windows 8.1 later today as it seems to improve the operating system in many regards. While it won't resolve major points of criticism like the missing start menu, it appears that Microsoft will at least improve it in other ways to make it more tolerable for users who are opposed to the system.
At the very least, it is improving for current users of the operating system. It is not a brand new system, more of a service pack of sorts that takes care of several issues of Windows 8.
Here is a list of five features that I'm looking forward to the most in Windows 8.1
1. App management improvements
It is currently only possible to uninstall one application at a time. If you want to uninstall ten apps, you have to mark them all individually and select the uninstall option each time to do so. With Windows 8.1, you can mark them all at once and uninstall them in one go. Plus, you can do so across multiple PCs as well if you are running multiple devices with Windows 8.
Another new feature is the ability to snap apps to the screen so that they take up the same space on it. This mimics Windows 7's Aero Snap functionality on first glance as you can now display two apps side by side so that each takes up 50% of the screen. It is however possible to snap three apps to the screen so that they all take up 33%.
Apps last but not least can now update automatically so that you do not need to do so manually in Windows Store all the time.
2. Start Screen modifications
The Start Screen of the operating system has received its fair share of improvements as well. You can now display the desktop background wallpaper as the start screen wallpaper as well if you want for instance.
Microsoft has furthermore increased the maximum number of app rows on the Start Screen to nine. Two new tile formats are introduced in Windows 8.1 as well, one half the size of the smallest Windows 8 tile format, the other double the size of the largest Windows 8 tile format.
3. Boot to desktop / Charms
It is no longer necessary to use third party tools to boot to the Windows 8 desktop directly. If you want to bypass the start screen on boot, you can do so now natively in Windows 8.1.
As far as the Charms menu goes, it is now possible to disable the top Charms of the system when you move the mouse to the hot corners.
4. Internet Explorer 11
While it is not really clear what Internet Explorer 11 will bring to the table, some features like the ability to sync tabs are already known. It also appears as if Internet Explorer 11 will support WebGL and Google's SPDY among other things. What's not clear if IE11 will be a Windows 8.1 exclusive or if it will also be made available for Windows 7.
5. Global Search
While I have not tested the new global search option yet, it sounds as if it could become a winner. Instead of having to switch between apps, settings and files, it now seems possible to browse a unified search results listing instead which makes a lot more sense in my opinion.
Some of the changes are disappointing on the other hand. The start menu button that Microsoft introduces again is really nothing else than a button that links to the start screen. While you can right-click it for an improved context menu, it is not comparable to a "real" start menu.
Windows 8.1 downloads will go live later today on this page.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.