Windows 8.1 Update 1 paves the way for a unified experience

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 31, 2014
Updated • Feb 6, 2014
Windows, Windows 8

When Microsoft released Windows 8, it became clear quickly that the company wanted to create an operating system that could be installed on any type of device, well, apart from smartphones that is.

What Microsoft missed at that time was that the majority of its user base was not using touch-based devices, or tablets, but desktop PCs.

The company neglected the needs of its core audience and even made decisions that would make it more difficult for users to work with the operating system.

The forced boot to the start screen, the missing start menu, and the search that always opened the start screen were three issues that the company was heavily criticized for.

Ever since that release, Microsoft has been at work to improve the usability of the operating system for desktop users. Windows 8.1 was a small step in that direction, as a boot to desktop option was implemented natively into the system.

Previously, you had to use third-party software to do so.

It appears that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will move further in that direction.

One of the most avid leakers of information about private Windows 8.1 builds Wzor claimed recently that the operating system did boot directly to the desktop after installation. This was later questioned by Mary Jo Foley who did not get a positive response from here Microsoft sources in this regard.

The feature set for Windows 8.1 Update 1 is believed to be locked-in at this point, according to one of my contacts. While there's no reason Microsoft couldn't opt to make boot-to-desktop a universal default -- or even just the default on non-touch devices/machines -- my contacts don't believe this is currently the plan.

It would make sense in my opinion to boot directly to desktop on desktop PCs, and to the start screen for tablet and touch users. Microsoft should be able to make that distinction, and as long as tutorials or guides are made to highlight the Store and start screen area to desktop users, it should not really have such a negative effect on overall use of the new interface.

Another change that is rumored to come with the update is the ability to pin apps to the taskbar. This looks like another small change, but would make sense in light of the new boot to desktop rumor.

Microsoft might pin some apps -- the store for example -- to the desktop so that non-touch users get exposed to it as well. It also means that you won't have to switch to the start screen first anymore to launch apps that you use regularly.

Another change that comes with Windows 8.1 Update 1 is the context menu that you get when you are on the Start Screen interface. A right-click displays a toolbar at the bottom or top currently only, which will change when the update gets released.

Now, you get options in a context menu that you can use directly at the position of the mouse cursor without having to move the mouse in a long arc to the top or bottom menus.

That may not be all however. A screenshot leaked by Wzor today shows the Bing Finance app and the desktop taskbar underneath it.

According to him, the taskbar becomes only available on mouse over. What's interesting here is that the taskbar is displayed when you run apps, so that you can quickly use it to switch to desktop programs, the start menu, or other taskbar features.

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It is likely however that the feature won't make it into Update 1 of Windows 8.1, as it is already feature complete according to Mary Jo Foley.

It is clear that Microsoft tries to improve the attractiveness and usability of Windows 8 for desktop users, and while Update 1 is definitely a step in the right direction, provided that some of the features mentioned in this article will be implemented, it is likely that it won't convince critics of the operating system yet to make the switch.


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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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