Windows 8.1 Update 1 leaked build suggests Microsoft is moving in the right direction

Here I take a look at the Windows 8.1 Update 1 build that leaked onto the web earlier this month. I've made no bones about the fact that I have a strong dislike of Windows 8, so even I was quite surprised by the fact that I was pleased by what I saw.

A few days ago a Windows 8.1 Update 1 internal build leaked onto the web, and given the fact that I'm really curious as to the direction in which Microsoft is planning to take Windows in, I decided to take a look. I've made no bones about the fact that I have a strong dislike of Windows 8 , so even I was quite surprised by the fact that I was pleased by what I saw.

IMPORTANT: Everything here is based on a leaked build of Windows 8.1 Update 1, which means that it's not a beta, and not intended for public consumption. Also, we have to assume by the build date – 14th of January, 2014 – that quite a lot will have changed since, and that the final release might look different. The best we can get from this leaked build is a snapshot of where Microsoft is going. Windows 8.1 Update 1 is rumored to be set for official release in April .

Oh, and no, I won't tell you where to find the leaked build, so don't bother asking!

With that out of the way, let's take a look at some of the changes. And there are quite a few.

The first thing that struck me was that there were two new buttons positioned on the top-right of the Start screen. One opens the Search charm, and the other is a power button. Both of these are welcomed additions in my opinion because they both demystifies the operating system and reduces on unnecessary clicks and gestures.

Windows 8 Update 1

Another new feature is the ability to pin apps to the Taskbar.

Windows 8 Update 1

The Windows Store app is pre-pinned to it.

Windows 8 Update 1

You now also have better control over how you sort the Start screen. By right-clicking an app to get the context menu up which allows you to unpin that item from Start screen and/or taskbar, resize the tile, or even uninstall it.

Windows 8 Update 1

Feel blinded by having to search through dozens of apps? Well, now the App screen adds a new alphabetical view in search, which makes the job a little easier (if you know what you are looking for).

One new feature that I was quite taken aback finding was that apps now have a title bar when you move the cursor to the top of the screen. Not only does this make them feel more like regular Windows applications – which is what I think Microsoft is trying to do – but it makes arranging then, minimizing them, and closing them easier.

Windows 8 Update 1

Microsoft has also throwing enterprise users a bone by adding something called Enterprise Mode into Internet Explorer. The idea behind this is that is helps ease compatibility issues with websites . You currently have to dig in the registry to make it work and I plan to investigate this further.

What the leaked Windows 8.1 Update 1 build doesn't have is a boot directly to the Desktop by default – a feature which was widely rumored – you can still set the Desktop as a default manually (as you could do in Windows 8.1). This setting alone has boosted my Windows 8 productivity dramatically and I'm glad to see that it is still present. I would still like to see this checkbox checked by default.

Windows 8 Update 1

All that's left for Microsoft to do in Windows 8.1 Update 1 is offer a functional Start menu, and I think I might consider all the nonsense introduced with Windows 8 undone and the operating system fixed for regular desktop and notebook users.