Hands-on: Windows 8.1 Update review
Microsoft has released its first major update for Windows 8.1 as promised and Pocket-lint has installed it on a desktop PC to see exactly what the more significant changes do. And we can start by saying that it's a hark back to Vista.
The software giant has hardly scrapped its ambitious tiles and start menu structure, but it recognises that the conventional desktop mode is perhaps more suited to desktop and laptop PCs - especially those without touchscreens.
The update changes the default option for boot-up. While Windows 8.1 introduced an option to change which mode boots from scratch, it still required you to switch them manually through settings. That has been swapped this time around. You can still alter the default setting, but now desktop and laptop PCs will open straight to the desktop, while tablets will remain with the start menu when it opens.
This, our initial impressions tell us, marks a significant step by Microsoft to re-establish boundaries between devices. Perhaps it was so keen to make a unified experience it forgot that different machines require different methods and functions. This one significant change alone shows that the firm is now more confident in its product to stop trying to appeal to everyone equally.
Either that or the Surface tablets have underperformed in sales enough for Microsoft to realise where its bread and butter market lies.
Another major change in the new update centres in the start menu itself. Right-click on a tile and you can now choose to pin it to your desktop task bar. This makes opening apps much more simple when you spend more time in the desktop mode. You can't yet open them in individual, resizable windows - that is coming with a further update in the future - but you can switch back and forward between them much more easily.
Other changes include the simple renaming of OneDrive, thanks to a losing battle run with Sky over the SkyDrive brand last year. A few changes to Internet Explorer 11 and a host of other tweaks and changes, some large some not so. It also seems to boot more quickly than before, but that might be machine specific. Once we've played with the new version of Windows 8.1 we'll know more.
For now, it's looking good, if not a little winter of 2007.