Microsoft has revealed some of the changes coming to Windows 8.1, and one of them is the resurrection of the “Start button” which is in the left-hand corner of the computer screen, and makes it easier for users who use a mouse and keyboard. The button was removed in Windows 8, the touchscreen-centric software that was released for laptops, desktops and tablets in October 2012.
Corporate Vice President of Windows Program Management, Antoine Leblond, says that the way we navigate through Windows 8.1 will be completely revised, starting with the familiar Windows Logo Start button. The Start button in the lower left-hand corner won’t bring you to the traditional Start menu, but it will bring you back to the Start screen.
But that’s just one of many new additions that Microsoft plans to add to Windows 8.1, which will be released as a free upgrade for Windows 8 users later this year.
Start Screen and Application Improvements
The new Windows 8.1 operating system will still be centered on the Start Screen, which is full of tiles and/or applications. However, 8.1 will have new tile sizes that can be moved around much more easily; you’ll simply press and hold the tiles, similar to the way you rearrange applications on an Android.
There are other small changes coming as well; such as the way applications are downloaded. New applications won’t be automatically added to your Start Screen; they’ll be put in a new application view instead.
Microsoft has also improved its own applications. The new global-search function will now search Bing in addition to Window’s current browsers; and the Music and Photos applications have also been redesigned. You’ll still have the ability to place two applications side by side with Snap, but you’ll also be able to change the sizes of the windows, and even run three applications side by side.
The most improved application might be Internet Explorer 11, with its speed and touchscreen improvements. Instead of having to swipe down from the top of the screen to make the address bar or tabs appear, you can set them to be visible all the time. Those tabs will also sync across Windows 8.1 computers and tablets.
Microsoft understands our need for simpler navigation within an operating system, but they’ve also added some fun new features. In Windows 8.1, you can add a slideshow of pictures to your lock screen, as well as new colors and backgrounds for the Start Screen. You’ll even be able to use animated graphics as your Start Screen.
Tami Reller, Microsoft Chief Management and Financial Officer of Windows, says the most common piece of feedback regarding Windows 8 has to do with non-touchscreen computers. And LeBlond tells us that they’ve focused on a variety of improvements in order to ensure that individuals using a mouse and keyboard will have an easier time navigating through Windows 8.1.
Microsoft will be announcing many other Windows 8.1 features during the next few months. Although Windows 8 has sold over 100 million licenses since October, users have complained about many of the changes.
Leblond says that Microsoft has learned a lot from customer feedback, and plans on using the latest advancements in hardware, cloud services, applications and the operating system in order to provide users with a unique experience in everything they do.
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