Windows users unhappy with Microsoft’s flagship operating system, Windows 8, can find many of their complaints answered in its latest update, Windows 8.1, released October 17.
It’s been a year since Windows 8 was launched, and the biggest frustrations Windows users have leveled at the software makers have been the interface challenges that changed the way doing the tasks they were used to doing looked.
Windows is in the midst of quarter after quarter of declining revenue, and has launched a massive reorganization and a campaign to overhaul its look, feel and use. With the vast majority of its purchases coming in as bulk purchases from companies using PCs and laptops, Windows can afford to ignore little from its software users.
And although sleek and swipe are all the rage, Window’s users want more of the familiar and less of the fanciful.
The changes in 8.1 include:
- Start Button – tapping once on this brings up the tiled interface and a long press opens up system controls.
- Desktop Mode – lets people avoid the tiled interface entirely.
- Keyboard Shortcuts – removes the need to toggle between different on-screen keyboards when typing numbers and letters.
- Gesture Control – some applications, such as those for cooking, can now be paged through without touching a screen.
- Tile Sizing – the blocks on the touchscreen interface can be in one of four sizes.
- Web Browsing – Windows 8 machines will now display separate web pages side by side.
While these are the biggest updates to the operating system, there are others as well, including better support for multi-tasking and improved links to Microsoft’s Xbox game console.
Users are likely to quickly learn and update their software, though the question still remains (and is somewhat reflected in the six-quarter long declining sales stretch) how and if Microsoft can understand its users’ needs from the get-go. Time will only tell.
Whether the restoration of the start button and options to ignore the tile screens completely, among other changes, will restore user confidence is yet to be seen.
The update is free to those already running Windows 8. If users are upgrading from Windows 7, charges will apply.