Microsoft offers peek at features in Update 2 for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft offers peek at features in Update 2 for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2

Summary: Here's what to expect, feature-wise, when Microsoft rolls out its second update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 on August 12, according to the company.


A week ahead of availability of the second update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft officials are sharing a list of what users should expect, feature-wise.


Update 2 -- which Microsoft execs won't be calling out publicly as Update 2 (it's just refered to as part of the "August updates") --  is set to arrive on August 12, next week's Patch Tuesday.

Up until a couple of months ago, Update 2 was going to include the new mini Start menu. But officials decided to postpone availability of that new Start Menu, as well as the ability to run windowed Metro-Style apps on the desktop, for Windows Threshold. (Threshold, a k a Windows 9, is due in the spring of 2015.)

Next week's Windows 8.1 Update 2 deliverables are fairly minor, as previously rumored. For Windows 8.1, those updates include:

  • Precision touchpad improvements: Three new end-user settings have been added: Leave touch pad on when a mouse is connected; allow right-clicks on the touchpad; double-tap and drag.
  • Miracast Receive: Exposes a set of Wi-Fi direct APIs for Independent Hardware Vendor (IHV) drivers or OEM drivers to develop Windows 32-bit applications that run on all supported x86-based or x64-based versions of Windows 8.1, enabling the computer as a Miracast receiver.
  • Minimizing login prompts for SharePoint Online: Reduces the number of prompts with federated use in accessing SharePoint Online sites. Users who select the "Keep me signed in" check box when logging on for the first time, won't see prompts for successive access to that SharePoint Online site.

Windows Server 2012 R2 users will get bug fixes that will improve infrastructural performance and reliability as part of Update 2. Officials said there will be no changes to system application programming interfaces (APIs), so applications should "just work" without the need for re-certification or re-validation.

For current Windows 8.1 consumers who have elected automatic updates, the Windows 8.1 Update 2 feature rollout will be gradual to ensure all customers receive the update in a timely manner. Those who wish to install the update ahead of automatic updates will be able to do so beginning August 12 manually via Windows Update.

The second Windows Server 2012 R2 update will be delivered automatically via Windows Update and optionally through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). Enterprises can take the update anytime. Further details on the update will be available on August 12, according to company officials.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Windows Server


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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  • But Wait! There's More!

    I see why it's no longer being branded as a major update.
    diane wilson
  • !!

    Wow i never knew this! Amazing!
    Jesus Nico
    • You've marked the date in your calender?

      (Apart from LD)
  • Miracast Receiver

    Can anyone explain what the new miracast functions will be able to do
    • re: Miracast Receiver

      Miracast Receiver is usually a device connected to a TV or built into the TV that allows other devices to playback video and/or audio on that TV wirelessly. So in this case I assume the other devices will be able to stream video/audio to a PC instead
    • Nothing to the end user

      It's exposing an API for developers, so it doesn't do anything as far as end user function.
      Buster Friendly
      • Miracast support

        Sounds like future drivers will allow you to wirelessly display your tablet/phone on your computer in one form or another. maybe windowed, maybe full screen.

        Great feature! and now you won't have to buy extra hardware to display them on your PC monitor.
        • miracast

          I think its also a standard for in car displays, so furthering the MS eco system into our lifestyle.
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  • Why call it Update 2...

    ...when it doesn't include any major new features? All the rumors and speculation and hype for something that isn't any different from what we get on every patch tuesday anyways. I mean, if they labeled every one of these updates like that, we would be at Update 10 or 12 already. Therefore, I can understand that they refuse to call it Update 2 now.

    But, seriously, why not release the Start menu and windowed Metro apps right now? Are these features not ready for primetime yet? Or is it just marketing? I asume the latter because if they were released right now for Windows 8.1, no one (including enterprise) would have a reason to buy a new version of Windows by spring next year...
    • Use the toolbars

      If you really still can't figure out the start screen, use the toolbars to create all the cascading taskbar menus you want.
      Buster Friendly
      • ?

        The point is you shouldn't have to jump through hoops to use Windows. It's Microsoft's fault you have to do so and it's their job, not the users', to fix it. Unfortunately it looks like it will be another year before Threshold restores some semblance of usability to Windows - supposing Microsoft doesn't find other ways to mess it up in the meantime. So, not only will you have to wait a year for the Start menu to return and the Touch interface to be sublimated, you'll undoubtedly have to pay through the nose for Windows 9. As for moving people from Windows 7, it will depend entirely on whether Microsoft has learned the right lessons from the Windows 8 debacle. I wouldn't hold my breath - learning from their mistakes is not something MS does very well.

        In the meantime they can count on losing even more money with their tablet PC strategy, no matter how good their or their OEM's hardware is, because they are chained to an inferior version of Windows. It's an open question whether or not Microsoft's hardware venture can hold out long enough for Windows 9 to rescue it. You might want to hold onto your Windows Surface if you have one. It may some day be a collectors item.
      • Or get one of a gazillion Start menu replacement apps . . .

        Or get one of a gazillion Start menu replacement apps. Ever since Windows 8 was released, they've been popping up all over the place.
      • Why?

        I'm fine with the Start screen, didn't really use the Start menu back in Windows 7 days. But I know there are people who think different...
    • It's all about the money..

      why add something promised, back in, when you can wait a while, and charge for it. The only thing new at Microsoft is that they will soon be spelling it Micro$oft - it used to be a joke, now it's for real.
      • no it's not about the money

        rumours are W9 will be a free upgrade, so it's not about the money
    • Except

      Microsoft is not calling it update 2, they are just calling it August updates. The press is calling it update 2.
      • True

        True, but MS was calling in Update 2 too just a short time ago. But yeah its not Update 2 anymore after the feature cuts, its just August update as every month there has been minor update pack.
    • Perception is key

      I think it is more about perception. Win 8 has an (undeserved IMHO) stink on it. To many incremental improvements before Threshold, or Win9, or whatever, would lead to the next OS being just am upgrade to 8, not a whole new thing, leaving the legacy of Win 8 in the past. Windows 7 would never have taken off if it had been Vista II. You need some whiz bang stuff to introduce, that is clearly a departure. I think it is marketing begging them to hold off so they have something to market. Many indicators point to the next OS being free or very low cost to Win 8 and maybe lower, so I don't think they are holding out for upgrade bucks.