Last week we heard from Brandon LeBlanc about the new Windows 8.1 Update. In his post, he gives details on the update
that offers refinements to the current Windows 8.1 experience. Iím happy to let you know that the update is beginning to roll out to customers worldwide today via Windows Update. The rollout will take a few weeks to get to everybody, so you might not see it right away. If you have automatic updates turned on, youíll get it automatically
. Iíve been using the Windows 8.1 Update
for a few weeks now, and I wanted to share some of my impressions of it.
Hereís my deal: I have a Surface
, a Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
touch laptop, and an HP desktop PC that I have hooked up to two monitors, a mouse, and a keyboard. I affectionately refer to the HP as my ďBig Olí Desktop.Ē
Before you start judging me as someone with too many devices, let me say: you can never have too many devices. Even before I worked at Microsoft, I had a reputation for having multiple devices and possibly being a little bit obsessed with them. I love and use all of them, and I have them all connected to OneDrive
and my Microsoft account, so itís easy to switch from writing a document on my Big Olí Desktop to editing that same document on my laptop without sticking it on a flash drive or emailing it to myself. (I remember back when I was in school, Iíd burn an ENTIRE CD just so I could bring a paper from one computer to another.)
But the convenience of OneDrive and access to all my stuff from anywhere was already around before todayís update (though it used to be called SkyDrive).
The main reason I love the Windows 8.1 Update is that now, Windows responds to what kind of device and what kind of input method Iím using in order to make things as convenient and easy as they can be. Let me explain further:
If Iím using a mouse, Windows optimizes for a mouse
One of the first things I noticed with the update is that when Iím on my mouse-and-keyboard desktop PC, there are now more familiar mouse controls that show up to make it faster for me to get around. When I open up an app, if Windows detects that Iím using a mouse, itíll show me a title bar with familiar-looking minimize and close buttons.
Also, if I right-click something on the Start screen with my mouse, itíll show me a menu right next to my mouse pointer instead of the more touch-friendly app controls at the bottom of the screen.
If Iím using touch, it shows me touch options
One of my machines is a laptop with a touch screenóso sometimes I use the touch screen, and sometimes I only interact with the keyboard and a wireless mouse.
With the latest update, Windows now switches seamlessly to show me the controls that are most useful for how Iím interacting with my PC. If I press and hold something on the Start screen instead of right-clicking it to select it, the app commands at the bottom of the screen, which are big and easy to touch, pop up instead of the mouse-friendly but not finger-friendly right-click menus.
And all the same great gestures that Iíve gotten used to using with my Surface and touch laptop still work just like they always did. Itís nice to be able to choose and experience the best of both worlds.
Less separation between the desktop and Start
Now all the apps show up on the taskbar on the desktop, and you can pin apps from the Windows Store to the taskbar in addition to desktop apps. When youíre using a mouse, you can also point to the bottom edge of the screen to bring up the taskbar from wherever you are in your PCófrom within an app like Mail or the Windows Store, from the Apps view, or from the Start screen. Itís no longer just a thing of the desktop. Iíve found this makes it especially easy to switch between apps and to launch apps I use often without leaving where I already am.
The Windows 8.1 Update doesnít change any of the things Iíve already learned how to do with Windows 8.1, but it adds a few new options that make it more personalóso I can do things in a way that fits the kind of device
Iím using, and fits the kind of thing
Iím trying to get done.
If youíre wondering when the update will be available to you, you can check to see if itís available for you in Windows Update
. If it is, you can install it right from there. Remember that because itís a rolling update, it wonít be available for everyone right away. Also remember that if you have automatic updates turned on, youíll get the update without needing to do anything. You can check to see if thereís a search button near your account name on the Start screenóif so, youíve got the latest update!
To read more about the Windows 8.1 Update, check out What's new in Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update?
For any support-related questions, be sure to post in the Windows forum
where there will be folks whoíll be able to help troubleshoot any issues or answer any specific questions.
Thanks, and enjoy!