Windows 8.1 update aims to fix common issues

With new functionality for the Start button and separate experiences for desktop and tablet users, the Windows 8.1 update finally gives people what they want.

Jason Parker

Jason Parker

Senior Editor / Reviews - Software

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

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The latest update to Windows 8 will be available on April 8 and brings much-needed tweaks for desktop users, restoring some of the features Windows users have been missing since the Metro interface first launched.

First and foremost, the OS now detects whether you're using a tablet or desktop and mouse setup, and delivers the best experience for your device. This means that upon launch, if you're on a desktop computer, the OS will boot straight to the desktop, and on a tablet, you'll get the touchable tiles of Microsoft's modern interface. But don't worry if you prefer the way Windows currently behaves; you still have the option to choose your startup preferences in the settings.

5 big changes in the Windows 8.1 Update (pictures)

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Microsoft also made some changes with full-screen apps making them a lot more intuitive for desktop users and more in line with the history of the Windows OS. Full screen apps now (once again) have a title bar at the top, with the X in the upper right so you can quit out of an app easily with a click of your mouse. You also can pin Modern apps to the taskbar alongside your other pinned apps for a more unified experience.

With the modern interface out of the way on your desktop, it makes sense that Microsoft would find a way to make the Windows Store more accessible. Now, with this latest update, the Windows Store is automatically pinned to the taskbar on your desktop.

One of the biggest complaints about Windows 8 was the loss of the Start Button as we knew it in previous versions of Windows, and we're still not going to get a fix in this update, but there's some good news. As we know, Windows 8.1 brought back the Start Button for some functions, but still didn't offer many of the most used features in older Windows versions. Microsoft announced that a future update will give us a mash up of both the traditional Start Button view and the live tiles. So, with a click you will be able to get recently opened apps, your documents folder, and other common options found in older versions of the Start Menu, but on the right, you'll get the live tiles from the modern interface. It seems like a good compromise between the two, and I think it's the setup most people have been asking for.

Be sure to check back next week for our review of the Windows 8.1 update.

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