Microsoft Unwraps Windows 8.1

This past week Microsoft announced a package of updates to Windows 8.   The new release - formerly called “Blue” but now named “8.1” - will be a free upgrade if you already have Windows 8.   The updates in 8.1 include an enhanced search capability (it integrates Microsoft’s search tool called “Bing”), the ability to boot directly to the desktop, and the return of the “Start” button.  

Adding back the Start button isn’t much because it’s just the button - the Start menu itself isn’t returning.   Really, all they’re doing is adding an anchor on the screen for people who can’t remember to press the Windows button on the keyboard. 

The ability to boot to the desktop is likely far more significant to businesses.  Why?  Being able to configure Windows 8 systems to boot directly to the desktop means the Windows 8 “metro” interface can be hidden to a certain extent.  By hiding it, the transition to Windows 8 will be easier for users moving from Windows XP or Windows 7.   Thus, the orientation and training required to move to Windows 8.1 won’t be as significant as would have been required to move them to the original Windows 8.

Here’s a good article that provides more details on Windows 8.1.   The release date is June 26.