Here is why Windows 8.1 Update 1 is a step in the right direction, but...

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 7, 2014
Updated • Mar 7, 2014
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft has released one major update so far for the Windows 8 operating system that raised the version of it to Windows 8.1.

The update corrected several usability issues that users of Windows 8 experienced, for instance the lack of tile resolutions, no option to set a unified background image, or the option to boot straight to the desktop.

Windows 8.1 Update 1, or the Windows 8.1 Feature Pack, builds on that foundation, but addresses mostly issues that are specific to mouse and keyboard users.

Windows 8 has been designed with touch-control in mind, and while it is possible to use the system with a mouse and keyboard, it is apparent that the solution is not optimal, especially so on the Start Screen, but also partially on the desktop thanks to the Charms menu for instance.

mouse right-click menu

With Windows 8.1 Update 1 come changes that improve the system for mouse and keyboard users, and only slight for touch users.

Several changes have been made to the start screen area for instance. When you right-click a tile now, you get a context menu right at the location of the mouse cursor, and not the toolbar at the bottom anymore which means less mouse moving to select actions from the menu.

Shutdown and search buttons are now displayed on the start screen which improve the usability for mouse and keyboard users further. Here you can select sleep, shutdown or restart when you left-click on the icon.

The account icon next provides you with right-click options to lock the system, sign out, and to change your account picture.


You will also notice that apps that run on the screen have a titlebar now that resembles the bar that desktop programs display. While it hides after a couple of seconds, it can be displayed again by moving the mouse in that area and leaving it there for a short bit.

That toolbar enables you to close the app window, to minimize the app, or to split it. If you minimize it, or use other means of hiding the app, you will notice that the app appears on the taskbar displayed on the desktop part of the system.


A click on it opens it up again, while a right-click and the selection of close window from the context menu shuts it down.

You can disable the display of apps on the taskbar though.

  1. Right-click on the taskbar while you are on the desktop and select properties from the context menu.
  2. Select Taskbar, and remove the checkmark next to "Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar".

Internet Explorer Enterprise Mode

As far as other changes are concerned. Internet Explorer 11 ships with a new Enterprise Mode which allows businesses to select which sites should be loaded in Internet Explorer 8 compatibility mode. It is not clear if this feature will only be available in the Enterprise version of Windows 8.

I checked Internet Explorer 11's Emulation menu after installing the update (by hitting F12 and selecting Emulation from the menu or pressing Ctrl-8) and the new compatibility mode did not appear on a Windows 8.1 Pro system.

Another feature that allegedly made it into Windows 8.1 Update 1 is that boot to desktop is on by default for mouse and keyboard users.

Apps View changes


The apps view has been improved on the Start Screen. New items are now highlighted with a different -- lighter -- background color so that you can spot them easily here.

The second option that you have here is to increase the number of apps displayed on the screen. You do that by opening the Charms Bar with Windows-C, selecting Settings > Tiles, and switching "Show more apps in Apps view" to Yes.


It is clear that windows 8.1 Update 1 is not a massive update. It makes laser targeted changes to the Windows 8.1 operating system to improve its mouse and keyboard friendliness.

I like the context menu that Microsoft added to the Start Screen, even though it feels quite alien here, as apps do not make use of context menus at all.

Still, it saves quite a bit of mouse movement when you work with apps on the start screen.

The shut down and log off options that are displayed all the time are also useful, as they speed things up if you want to change the power state of your PC when you are on the Start Screen.

Sure, you can just hit Alt-F4 and be even faster, but most users probably use the mouse for that instead.

The real problem however is not the usability issues. It is great that Microsoft is fixing those, don't get me wrong, but the main issue is that Windows 8 has two interfaces that could not be more different in terms of how they work.

The feature pack is just another baby step into consolidating those two interfaces. While I cannot say if Microsoft will do so when Windows 9 comes along in 2015 or before that, I'd estimate that we will see a  unified interface by 2015 again that will resolve this major issue.

Anyway, if you are running Windows 8.1 and you are using a mouse and keyboard as your main ways of input, then you will certainly like what the update brings along.


Tutorials & Tips

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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

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