Microsoft has announced Windows 8.1 Update, a follow-on to its Windows 8 operating system which provides what the company called “a more familiar and consistent experience across touch and non-touch devices”.
While Windows 8 shines in a touch-based experience, users who had rarely used touchscreen-based devices prior to getting their Windows 8 machine had found the new OS more of a steep learning curve.
On the Windows Experience Blog, author Brandon Leblanc, who is Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Microsoft, said: “We believe deeply in the notion that delivering a compelling personal and modern experience across all the devices that matter in your life should not mean sacrificing familiarity. Windows 8 and 8.1 were first steps, and we continue to make refinements based on customer and partner feedback.”
Key features of the update, announced at Build 2014, its Developer Conference, include user interface improvements for mouse and keyboard users, the ability to access the taskbar from any screen and the Windows Store apps that are pinnable to the taskbar, alongside desktop apps and favorite websites. Performance and compatibility enhancements have also been added to the Internet Explorer 11 browser.
“We’ve made it so your mouse works more consistently anywhere in Windows. If you move your mouse to the top of the screen when using a Windows Store app, you will see the familiar Close and Minimize buttons,” LeBlanc said.
Contextual right-clicking has returned, too. Right-clicking on an app tile will deliver a context menu that shows the user what can be done with the tile, similar to the experience with previous Windows operating systems.
According to Microsoft, these improvements provide faster, more direct access to the things customers care most about, so activities such as powering down, searching the Web and switching between apps are easier than ever. Increased consistency ensures that navigating with the mouse and keyboard will feel more familiar and intuitive, the company said.
Current Windows 8.1 customers will receive the Windows 8.1 Update for free through Windows Update, while Windows 8 customers will receive the update free through the Windows Store, beginning April 8, 2014 (connection charges from the ISP may apply).