Leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 screen shots point to more tweaks to aid desktop users

Leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 screen shots point to more tweaks to aid desktop users

Summary: Microsoft is continuing to tweak the Windows 8 user interface to make life easier for users who prefer the desktop experience, as new Windows 8.1 Update 1 screen shot leaks indicate.


Microsoft's Windows team is continuing its march toward making Windows 8 more palatable for users who spend a lot of time in the desktop mode, if screen shots from an alleged leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 build are any indication.


Known leaker WZor posted on January 22 screen shots which appear to be from a build of the Windows 8.1 Update 1 release which sources have said will be out around the time of Microsoft's Build 2014 conference in early April. 

Windows 8.1 Update 1 is designed to bring Microsoft's Windows operating system more closely into alignment with its Windows Phone operating system, from what sources have told me. Windows Phone 8.1 also is expected to arrive, though possibly only in test/preview form, around the time of the Build 2014 show, as well.

WZor's screen shots indicate that users will be able to pin Metro-Style/Windows Store apps on the desktop taskbar. It's not clear whether clicking on a Metro-Style app from the desktop taskbar would open and run that app on the desktop or take users back to the Metro environment.

Either way, allowing desktop users to pin Metro-Style apps would be a step along the way to making the transition between the two different environments in Windows 8 -- the desktop and the Metro worlds -- less jarring. It also would be yet another nod to users who prefer working in the desktop environment to the Metro one.

Microsoft is believed to be moving along a path toward improving the Windows 8.x experience for users who are accustomed to existing Windows releases and who are attempting to use the operating system on larger screens with mice and keyboards. Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott has previously reported that Microsoft is planning to allow users to run Metro apps in floating windows (not just full screen) on the desktop. Microsoft also is bringing back some kind of start menu to Windows. The floating desktop windows and start menu are unlikely to be part of Windows 8.1 Update 1, but may be part of a future Windows update delivered some time in 2014 or possibly not until the "Threshold" release in the spring of 2015.

(By the way, for what it's worth, I'm hearing from my sources that WZor's claims this week that Threshold will be released to manufacturing in October 2014 are inaccurate. Maybe he's hearing about something like another Windows 8.1 Update.)

While on the topic of Windows 8 usability, Microsoft has made available for download a free, 20-page Windows 8.1 guide aimed at helping business users navigate the Windows 8.x operating system. I've heard Microsoft plans to allow companies to customize the guide and distribute it to their own users. 

Update: WinSupersite's Paul Thurrott says he's hearing Microsoft also plans to add with Windows 8.1 Update 1 the ability to "click to close" Metro-Style/Windows Store apps in the same way they can on the desktop.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • The 20 page guide seems like a very good idea...

    ...if not a bit late
    • Seriously? A 20 page guide to use Windows 8.1?

      Reminds me of the Mac versus PC commercial where there was a stack of documentation beside the PC and a leaflet floated down alongside the Macintosh. IMO a 20 page guide is a step backwards.
      • Only 1/5 of iPad User Guide

        It must be Jobs reality distortion field in operation.

        Simple iPad? No Start menu in iOS 7.

        Simple OSX? Learn yet another UI, different from iOS 7. Learn another set of apps. No Start menu.
        • Not sure what the relevance of any of this is

          as neither of these are Windows products, and don't come with any historical expectations related to Windows products, or how such products would be used.
          • it's relevant to the post that's it's a reply to

            it's relevant to the post that's it's a reply to "Reminds me of the Mac versus PC commercial where there was a stack of documentation beside the PC and a leaflet floated down alongside the Macintos"
          • nope

            Not really. That post was just to show that MS made things complicated with an analogy of d PC v Mac ad not an actual comparison btw Windows and OSX/IOS
        • OS X isn't too bad.

          I tried it once and if you've used both Ubuntu and the 1st-generation Samsung Chromebook, then a Mac is not that hard to figure out.
          Richard Estes
      • Yep. One of the main selling points

        of a GUI was that you could get rid of the massive documentation and learning curve.
        • Want massive documentation? Look at the "man pages" which come with ...

          ... Linux!
          M Wagner
          • Gotta agree with you there, Wagner

            Worse, I got Linux for Dummies, and it's the worst-organized book I've ever tried to read. Almost as bad as Windows 8.

            Even so, it's too late for me to go back to deaf MS. Took me 10 years to realize they hate their customers. At least Linux does have GUI alternatives to get me over the hump. Maybe in 10 years I'll have mastered the man pages; but meanwhile, Mint 13 suits me just fine.

            Linux is great for doing what Windows cannot. I'm a dedicated, die-hard, even (ahem) religious user of XP and DOS, with 7 for internetting. But you know, so many of the needed functions those three OS cannot do well, but Linux does VERY well. And I only know two Linux commands, sudo su and yam transaction complete. Everything else I use via the GUI, and on a PEN DRIVE. Yay.
        • yes for standard usage that maybe so

          However the more flexible you make an OS the more information users will need to lever that flexibility. This is one reason I never made a move to apple which has a one size fits all approach. Windows made a big mistake of almost following down the simplicity route and are rapidly getting back on track. If you are just a plain consumer wanting email, the internet and a few productivity apps then simple set ups are fine but a lot of us want to be able to tweak and adjust things to personalise and make the system work they way we want it to rather than the designers view of what we want.
          Actually very cheap and very good programmes exist already to provide the kind of functionality needed - I can run Windows 8 apps from my desktop in windowed mode quite easily - occasionally you will get one that insists on returning you to the modern UI when you close it but that is not a huge problem - any one using my system would think it was windows 7 except for the improved speed and stability
          • So you bought Windows 8 and then did everything you could

            To make it look and behave like Windows 7? LOL. Okee then!
          • why not?

            The underpinnings of W8 are better than W7 - except for the lack of wireless network management. Give the desktop of W8 a spin, you will see.
            (they especially improved the performance when copying very large files)
          • Missing Wireless Network Management

            Try this 3rd party one - I don't think it's as good as what was in Win 7 and can't figure out why they'd remove it in Win 8/8.1 but whatever:

            The Windows Club: WiFi-Profile-Manager
          • THIS is why W8 is so irritating!

            It's a great release with a lot of behind-the-scenes improvements but the UI/UX are terrible and some basic requirements such as these have been removed or forgotten.

            Having to install 3rd party software to manage WiFi is a big fail on MS's part, and let's not forget the furore around the Start Menu. Regardless of progress for progress' sake, or your own personal preference, a large number of Windows users have spoken out against the Metro interface and are not happy - it reminds me of the uproar over 'New' Coke and the quick turnaround to bring back Coke 'classic', maybe MS know what they're doing here and are deliberately mocking us...?

            Either way, this does need attention and MS need to address a lot of the backlash they have been going through since the release.
          • M$FT Attempted ....

            have your notebook/desktop have the functionality of an iPhone 3G.
          • iPhones, WinPhones, & tablets... I work on a COMPUTER !

            Not one of those other devices is either appropriate for use in my work in a regulated industry, and for MicroSoft to try to jam this view of the world onto my laptop is not only arrogant, but it is absurd.

            I made the incredible mistake of allowing Win8 to be installed on my new laptop, and have spent hours undoing all of the damage I could, starting from unhooking skydrive to trying to delete bing, to disconnecting every dumbed-down "app" in the system that I could.

            Making a system, that requires me to reach across my desk to fondle a large monitor to accomplish some task is so ridiculous it defies consideration.... but some genius at MS decided that it was the way that I should work. unforatunately, I disagree, and so far, I still get to decide how I spend my money; I am just unhappy that I spent a single dollar on Win 8 ! I should have gone with Win 7, but I wanteds the more powerful computer, and it had came with Win 8. What really aggravated me is the when I tried to UPgrade - yes, I said UPgrade ! - to Win 7, HP refused to help, and for that reason I will never again buy an HP product...

            I will decide on what software I use, as well as where my inforomation is saved... not some gamer who thinks he/she can tell me the best way I should use my computer. Additionally, I would NEVER use a MS account, nor allow my data to be held on some file server outside my own firewall(s) and/or SAN, and the insistence of the O/S and all of the MS programs in sending information to skydrive is irritating at best, and a high security risk at worst.

            PLUS... there are many settings in the O/S that YOU CANNOT CHANGE that control what information is sent to MS for their purposes and when. If any of that is legally-protected health or financial data - depending on your business - you might be liable and subject to legal penalties for allowing the exposure of that data beyond the scope of your busijess needs. I am bewildered at the lack of coverage of this single bit of information in the major media....

            When I have a need for a spreadsheet, the last thing I want to see is one those idiot "apps" pop up, instead of the software I wnat to start... ditto for writing letters or reports, reading or sending email, or any of the other things that those intrusive "apps" inject themselves into my presence to do.
      • 20 page guide

        Take a PC person (like myself) and give them a Mac and they would be wishing for something more than a 20 page guide. I find those machines real frustrating.
        • Been in IT for 33+ years and I have to agree.

          My first experience with the Macintosh was the 512KB "Fat Mac" (in 1984) and I still find the Macintosh paradigm confusing to use. Not so with Windows, or any version or flavor of UNIX/Linux.
          M Wagner
          • interesting problem, OSX is a derivative of BSD

            When I really need work done I use linux, no GUI. CLI all the way, baby!