Menu
Microsoft slates April 8 release of Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft slates April 8 release of Windows 8.1 Update

Free refresh to roll out next week via Windows Update

Microsoft today said that it will ship a Windows 8.1 refresh, a set of new features primarily designed to make the struggling OS easier to use for customers navigating with mouse and keyboard, on April 8.

The announcement was anticipated by leaks weeks ago, and the April 8 launch date by reports from long-time Windows observers, including ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

Most of those reports were based on leaks from the Russian website Wzor.net, which went dark two weeks ago, just a day after U.S. federal law enforcement officials arrested a former Microsoft employee for allegedly stealing trade secrets, then sharing them with an unidentified French blogger.

Dubbed "Windows 8.1 Update," the refresh will be available to all Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users through Windows Update, Microsoft's standard consumer- and small business-grade patching and updating service, and which also powers the enterprise-level WSUS (Windows Server Update Services).

Windows 8.1 Update will be free.

Coincidentally, April 8 is also the last day Microsoft will patch the 13-year-old Windows XP, which exits all public support that day.

Joe Belfiore, the Microsoft executive in charge of Windows Phone and Windows 8's user experience, ran through several of the new features in Windows 8.1 Update, ranging from a default boot-to-desktop setting for non-touch devices to desktop-style title bars on the "Modern," ne "Metro" apps. Also within the update, said Belfiore, are always-visible power and search buttons on the Start screen, the ability to "pin" Metro apps to the desktop's taskbar, and right-click contextual menus for Metro apps.

All of those changes had been leaker prior to today by a variety of sources, including Wzor.net.

"Windows 8.1 Update will be smoother and easier to use for folks with mouse and keyboard focus. We want to make Windows 8.1 easier to use and easier to learn," said Belfiore, implicitly acknowledging what customers and reviewers have said since before Windows 8's 2012 launch -- that the radical overhaul lacked enough hand-holding, and more importantly, stressed touch at the expense of more traditional user interface (UI) navigation and control.

Belfiore also reconfirmed that Windows 8.1 Update has been modified to work on lower-priced devices that sport just 1GB of system memory and as little as 16GB of on-device storage.

As a sop to the Metro UI and its tile-style, touch-first apps, Windows 8.1 Update will also feature a pre-pinned Windows Store -- the only authorized distribution channel for those apps -- on the taskbar, said Belfiore. The store itself will undergo a design overhaul in the near future, he added.

"Users will find the store much more discoverable," Belfiore said.

Although customers won't receive Windows 8.1 Update until next week, developers with MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) subscriptions can download and install the refresh today.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags App DevelopmentMicrosoftWindowssoftwareoperating systems

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments