Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available from April 8th

If you've made the move to Microsoft's much-maligned operating system, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available on the 8th April. This is the update set to improve the OS and its interface for Microsoft's core audience: us keyboard and mouse-using folk.

The big changes seem to revolve around the taskbar. With Update 1, it's possible to pin Modern UI apps to the taskbar—the Store icon is pinned there by default—and it will also appear within the Modern UI. This should give you a bit more consistency in your experience if you're moving between the interfaces.

They have also added in a title bar at the top of Modern UI apps if you push the mouse to the top of the screen. It'll pop up with the familiar minimise and close buttons in the top right corner, meaning no more dragging down to shutdown your apps. The Modern UI interface will also get more traditional with the addition of a right-click context menu, and there's now a power button to make it simple to shut down from the Start screen.

Another welcome touch is that Windows will now detect what your general control setup is and adjust where your machine boots to by default. If it sees a mouse attached to your PC then it will automatically boot directly into the desktop. You can change the settings around yourself, but it's still good to see.

It does seem like a bunch of relatively minor tweaks to the OS, but I'm sure most of them will be pretty welcome—even if they still don't seem to go quite far enough. Having a bit more of a consistent control scheme should help first time users find their way around the new Windows.

Importantly they still haven't seen fit to introduce a proper, fully-functioning Start menu along the same lines as Start8 (or, y'know, Microsoft's own Start menu from every version of their OS since Windows 95).

At their BUILD conference this week, though, Microsoft did announce that the next update to Windows 8.1—presumably Update 2—will have such a thing, as well as the ability to run Modern UI apps in windows on the desktop.

That's no bad thing as I'd heard we might have to wait until next year's release of Windows 9 to enjoy the new menu goodness. With Win9 touted for April next year, I'd guess the second update for Windows 8.1 will release sometime in the Autumn.

It seems unlikely that the Update 1 changes will quell the Windows 8 scepticism. Is anybody out there convinced enough to upgrade to Windows 8.1?

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.