Windows 8 is dead. Long live Windows 8.1! Never has an Operating System been so polarizing. While many people loved Windows 8, there were just as many that loathed it. The jump from Windows 7 to 8 was so jarring for many users, they resorted to downgrading back to Windows 7 in an attempt to bring some normalcy back into their computing lives–even though Windows 8 is a far superior Operating System under the hood.
New Features in Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 takes the user by the hand and leads them back down the path a little. Below are some of the most appealing new features in Windows 8.1. So if you’ve tried Windows 8 in the past, this free upgrade is definitely worth a try.
Boot Directly To Desktop
If you don’t like the Modern UI tiles on the Start screen, you don’t like them. One of the most frustrating things about Windows 8 was all of the extra steps it took users to get to the normal Windows 7-like Desktop. You now have the ability to boot directly to that safe haven.
To boot directly to the Desktop in Windows 8.1, right-click the taskbar and select Properties. Under the Navigation tab, you will see the option to go directly to the desktop instead of the Start screen.
Blurring The Lines Between The Desktop And the Start Screen
In Windows 8, there were stark differences between the desktop and the Modern UI Start screen.
Windows 8.1 now allows you to share the desktop background between the two, so as you switch back and forth between them it seems like you’re using one Operating System and not two different ones.
From the Start screen, hover your mouse over the upper right corner of the screen, and then click the search option. Type backgrounds, and you will see the option to choose a new background for your Start screen. Included in these options will be your current Desktop background. While some might not consider this a big deal, it brings some familiarity to the alien Start screen many users despise.
More Skydrive Integration
Skydrive has now become your default save location for documents, pictures, music and more.
When saving, you have the option to save your files elsewhere, but by default they will now want to live in your Skydrive folder, which is synced to the cloud and accessible from anywhere in the world. This folder resides on your C drive under the path C:\users\username\skydrive.
Automatic App Updates
Applications that have updates will no longer pester you to manually update them. They will do it quietly in the background without nagging you at all. Finally!
Monster Search Upgrade
The search feature in Windows 8.1 received a major overhaul, as well. Now, when searching for something, Windows searches both your computer and the Internet at the same time.
No more having to open a browser to search online. Windows 8.1 does it for you. In the above search, you’ll see a result for Windows 8.1 on the computer and links below that for Internet results relating to your search criteria.
No More Secret Hot Spots
Windows 8 has corner hotspots that–when your mouse happens upon them–expand the Charms area. In the past, these locations were only known by a secret society of Windows users. Normal people never used hotspots in previous versions of Windows and Microsoft did very little to explain the new feature to Windows 8 users.
As you can see above, Windows 8.1 boldly announces the Charms section, explaining to users there is a secret place in the upper right corner that expands the functionality of Windows.
Windows 8.1 Is An Improvement
There will always be those that swear they will run Windows XP or Windows 7 forever. There are also those intrepid users trekking through the wild wild west of Linux. But Windows 8 is here to stay. Fortunately, Microsoft has stepped back a little and listened to end-user’s complaints about its first attempt at the modern OS. They have taken steps to improve the user interface and have tweaked things under the hood to make it a leaner, more efficient Operating System than we saw a year ago. If you have Windows 8.1, get the free Windows 8.1 upgrade here and let us know what you think.