What's new in Windows 8.1

28.2.2014 Roberto Arduous
There is a lesson in hubris and humility buried somewhere along with Windows 8. Following the success of Windows XP and several subsequent blunders, Microsoft unilaterally tasked itself with developing an operating system of the future, a program of all programs, one that would unite all people and all platforms under one name, a piece of software so powerful it would grant each one of millions of irreconcilable wishes of tech geeks around the world, all that and more in one piece of monolith code for the ages.

Or at least that’s how Windows 8 was marketed. Needless to say, it fell a bit short of those goals. Or, actually, everyone felt the need to say it at the time, and Microsoft finally reacted, in one of its signature too-late-to-every-party moves. So with all the critiquing sure to ensue, exactly what positives can we expect from Windows 8.1 update?

Well, for starters, the update finally gives those malnourished diehard desktop fans a reason to rejoice. One of the major, yet most basic failures attributed to Windows 8 is the fact that it completely neglected the fact that many users will simply not like the new, modern user interface, and that they should be given an option not to. Windows 8.1 works hard(ish) to correct that, with an array of traditional-desktop-friendly new features.

Now, if you so wish to, you can almost completely erase the modern UI from your PC experience, which rather depressingly means that the main reason people will like Windows 8.1 is because it kills the essence of Windows 8. You can boot directly to desktop, and the Start button is back, although not the Start menu itself (at this point, nobody would be surprised to see that as the key feature of Windows 8.2)

Also, the transition between the two UIs is finally made smoother, with both the reintroduction of the Start button and the option of using your desktop background over the new UI (seriously, why didn’t they just re-ship Win XPs?). Another important update is the fact that you can at last have more than two modern apps open at the same time via Snap, in a split-screen fashion, which makes the new UI feel much more utilitarian.

The inner search engine is pretty revamped as well. The new Smart Search now combines results from multiple apps to answer your query, rather than segregating your results by Apps, Files and Settings. Although it sounds like a rudimentary upgrade, this may yet be the best feature of the new Windows.

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