Microsoft released the newest update to their Windows 8 operating system last night and it is currently rolling out worldwide as a free update for all windows 8 users.  As a point release it isn’t a complete change like the update from Windows 7 to 8 but there are a number of improvements.

Windows 8 was designed to bridge the gap between touch screens and PC’s and many think it went a little too far in the touch screen direction with few liking or actively using the tiled interface.  8.1 is aimed at fixing the smaller complaints made but does not back away from the tiled interface as a concept.

The changes include:

  • The tiled Start screen is far more configurable with different sized tiles, far more wallpaper options and more flexible groupings and controls.
  • Side by side application snapping, a core Windows 8 feature has been enhanced with more flexibility and multi-monitor support.
  • The Windows Store has been given a makeover and the ability to update apps silently in the background.
  • The built in Windows apps have all had upgrades, mainly focusing on looks and UI but with a couple of real features such as far more filters in Fresh Paint.
  • A Start Menu button has been added to the Desktop view.  This will not give you back the Windows 7 Start Menu, but will take you to the Start Screen but it at least provides a clickable button for those used to it.
  • Skydrive integration has been expanded throughout the OS.  This means that far more of your files and settings will be automatically backed up to the Microsoft servers.  It also does away with libraries replacing the service with the Skydrive directories.

To update your Windows 8 system go to the Windows Store in the Modern UI an the first option should be to upgrade.  If its not there for you yet don’t worry – its being rolled out slowly and should get to everyone in the next couple of days.  Once you have upgraded don’t forget to check with your PC and part manufacturers for updated drivers over the next few weeks – there will probably be some coming.

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