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

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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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