Dead Tree Alert: Windows 8.1 Is Minor but Meaningful

The best updates are often the ones that clean up after the alleged blockbusters.

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[image] TIME cover


In the new issue of TIME, I have a story on Windows 8.1. If you’re a subscriber, you can read it here, but trust me: It’s better on paper. (For one thing, the magazine version has a list of new features, which isn’t in the online version.)

The story is very far from being the final word on Microsoft’s big update to Windows 8. For one thing, it’s only a page long. For another, while Microsoft has released some general information about what’s new, it hasn’t yet shown off the changes in detail. It’ll do so next week at its BUILD conference in San Francisco, and will release a beta version of 8.1 which will let anyone who’s interested get hands-on time before the final release. I’ll be one of the folks who downloads and tries this preview edition–and will let you know what I think once I do.

That name Microsoft chose for the software that was code-named “Windows Blue” is meaningful. As the “.1” in “Windows 8.1” indicates, this is still Windows 8, with incremental improvements. It’s neither a great leap forward nor a sweeping rollback of the things some people either actively dislike about Windows 8 or find off-putting enough that they haven’t bothered to try it. (Microsoft is bringing back the Start button, sort of, but in a form that feels grudging: Pressing it still bounces you out to the new Start screen rather than to the familiar-but-still-dead Start menu.)

But you know what? As I’ve written before, major upgrades are overrated: They often break things that didn’t need fixing, and even worthwhile new ideas are introduced in half-baked form. Minor upgrades such as Windows 8.1–the sort that polish up rough edges, swat bugs and otherwise have aims that are level-headed and eminently attainable rather than wildly ambitious–often do more to make products usable.

Windows 8.1 won’t turn teeming masses of Windows 8 doubters into Windows 8.1 lovers: The changes Microsoft has imposed on its operating system are so radical that a goodly chunk of its customer base will remain skeptical for years to come. But if all it does is make the new Windows feel less experimental and more practical, it’ll matter more than its name suggests–as the best minor upgrades always do.


I would be happy if the new start menu wasn't full screen.


I love windows 8. It is very fast and stable os. I feel whatever I can do on win 7 can be done in Win 8 (may  be much easier with usage). Some of the metro application are really good. Overall it is a very user-friendly os. Hope Blue aka windows 8.1 will add a lot on top of a solid os 

AgostoNuñez 3 Like

Windows 8.1 (Blue) actually adds A LOT of features that weren't included in Windows 8, mostly on security level, and all the things people missed about previous-versions of Windows, I personally don't get how people hate the start-screen without trying it, they go to fora and find people calling it ''mouse- & keyboard-unfriendly'' but anyone who has used it for a longer term knows that this is untrue.

I haven't tried Windows 8 on a touch screen after I've used it for 6 months on a desktop, and I must honestly say that I prefer the mouse & keyboard over my hands &/or stylus, Windows 8 & now Windows 8.1 (Blue) have major security improvements that are vital for any internet-go'er. Windows 8 gives you the 4.000.000 Windows apps + 90.000 Windows R.T. apps, you can easily browse and switch through both, Xbox Music (Zune) gives you 30.000.000 songs to chose from and Xbox Video has over 200.000 video's-on-demand, Xbox LIVE (Games for Windows - LIVE) gives you both the ''Xbox classics'' and the ''Windows classics'' to chose from.

Windows Defender will receive full integration with Windows 8.1 (Blue) and Microsoft has unleashed a bounty hunt for the world's best hackers to perfect their O.S. this isn't ''a superficial'' update, this is in fact a major upgrade. There is more difference between Windows 8 and WIndows 8.1 (Blue) than there is between Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Windows 8 symbolises a unified ecosystem across all Microsoft platforms and operating systems, and it can act and function as all the former, one O.S. to rule them all, optimized for fingers, styli, mice and keyboards. You can easily switch between any imput form without trouble.

I welcome anyone who is sceptic of this O.S. to thoroughly test it first before they judge it, it's a major improvement over any previous O.S. and I used to be O.S. agnostic, I've tried Macs and Linux based O.S.'es and had my hands on a few Chromebooks, but Windows 8 is untill now the best O.S. I've ever seen. The best part comes from it's built-in cloud-integration, switching between Windows 8 devices is a seamless and easy experience, I'd gladly advise anyone to try it out, if you haven't tried it, you have no idea what you're missing.