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Windows 8.1 Update Released, With Improvements For Non-Touch Hardware 294

Posted by timothy
from the don't-touch-me-there-or-there-or-there dept.
DroidJason1 (3589319) writes "Microsoft has released the highly anticipated Windows 8.1 Update, adding numerous improvements for non-touch consumers based on feedback. It is also a required update for Windows 8.1, otherwise consumers will no get any future security updates after May 2014. Most of the changes in the update are designed to appease non-touch users, with options to show apps on the desktop taskbar, the ability to see show the taskbar above apps, and a new title bar at the top of apps with options to minimize, close, or snap apps."
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Windows 8.1 Update Released, With Improvements For Non-Touch Hardware

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  • It's a start (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:32PM (#46695939) Journal

    Well, it's a start. I doubt I'm unique in that I won't be happy until I get a proper, Win 7 Start menu back, at least as an option. Live tiles on my desktop would be nice too.

    Basically, give me back the Win 7 UI with the ability to put live tiles on the desktop, and run apps in a windows. Remember "windows"? Call be weird, but I'd like a version of Windows with, you know, windows.

    • Re:It's a start (Score:5, Insightful)

      by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:34PM (#46695955) Journal

      There used to be this thing called Windows Gadgets. But I guess that wasn't cool and trendy enough.

      • Re:It's a start (Score:5, Informative)

        by BLToday (1777712) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:46PM (#46696141)

        "There used to be this thing called Windows Gadgets. But I guess that wasn't cool and trendy enough."

        Or useful enough. Remember there was Konfabulator (Yahoo bought them), Google Desktop (widgets, discontinued). Only one left and barely alive is Apple's Dashboard.

        • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:39PM (#46696741) Homepage

          "Most of the changes in the update are designed to appease non-touch users"

          Do they exist? Really????

          How out of touch can a company be?

          • Re:It's a start (Score:4, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:42PM (#46696775) Homepage

            Do they exist? Really????

            How out of touch can a company be?

            LOL, you can have my 23" Acer flat panel (with no touch, thank you very much) when you pry it from my cold dead hands (or it suffers failure).

            We don' need no steenkin' touch screens.

            For my tablet and phone, I like touch. For a desktop? I can't even understand why you would.

            • Re:It's a start (Score:4, Informative)

              by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @07:54PM (#46700315)

              For my tablet and phone, I like touch. For a desktop? I can't even understand why you would.

              I posted in another thread several examples; most of them revolving around a kitchen or living room 'family computer' especially the common scenario where the keyboard and mouse stored in a drawer.

              Then for various quick casual interactions, like to check the weather, check twitter/facebook, start a netflix movie, start playing some music... etc you do it all with the screen without even bothering to get out the mouse and keyboard.

              When they want to do any real work they pull out the kb and mouse and don't touch the screen.

              I know people who have those big desktop all in one touch screens, and that's how they use them.

              Is it a critical must have feature? I don't think so, but its convenient, and its not like they paid a lot extra for it vs a non-touchscreen version.

      • Re:It's a start (Score:4, Informative)

        by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:00PM (#46696317)
        They killed those off because they were major security holes. Little bits of random HTML.
        http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/gadgets
        • by roc97007 (608802)

          Hm. I wonder how that compares with live tiles.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Hm. I wonder how that compares with live tiles.

            Stupid ideas never die, they just get renamed. Push technology, PointCast, Active Desktop (IE4.0 HTML as wallpaper on Win95), Windows Sidebar (Vista), Gadgets (Win7), and now Live Tiles.

            It's all just a bunch of lame attempts to get demographic data on the userbase / turn the computer into a TV so that it can be monetized.

          • by sproketboy (608031) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @04:46PM (#46698549)

            Live tiles have new and improved security holes.

      • I liked gadgets, too. Minor things like a desktop clock, calendar, weather, scrachpad, that kind of thing helps your workflow and save you the time and risk of looking for some random shareware solution. I was never too clear on any security problems with gadgets, thought they were sandboxed. I figured they got dropped because Microsoft just decided the desktop was history and all is Metro. Same reason I figured this or that UI bug in 7 would never get fixed.

        There are unofficial ways to get them back [makeuseof.com]
      • Re:It's a start (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:39PM (#46696745) Homepage

        There used to be this thing called Windows Gadgets. But I guess that wasn't cool and trendy enough.

        Well, they were memory hogs, and completely insecure [microsoft.com].

        In other words, they might have been a good idea at the time, but I stopped using them after a few days because they used up so much damned memory. Seriously guys, a clock widget doesn't take 200+ MB of RAM. Or, at least, it shouldn't in any sane world.

        And, from the sounds of it, Microsoft didn't make a framework which was secure or safe.

        A little single-purpose widget should be a small, lightweight thing that does one thing. But even the ones Microsoft shipped were overly bloated things which shouldn't have existed.

        I don't think "cool and trendy" were what defined the failure of those. Bloated and insecure, but not cool and trendy.

        • Re:It's a start (Score:4, Informative)

          by flyingfsck (986395) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @03:12PM (#46697161)
          ...and the granddaddy of them all: Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR) programs on DOS. I'm getting old, sorry...
          • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @03:18PM (#46697235)

            You can have my TopView when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Well, someone had to figure out how to use the memory over 640K, because Billy Boy hadn't yet done so.

            It's OK, it happens to all of us. Just think of all the fun you'll have telling your grandchildren about loading programs from cassette tape, or typing in the source code from a magazine. That should be good for some laughs ... because you'll need to explain both concepts to them.

            If you're really old you can tell them stories about toggling in boot sequences or using punch cards. That'll really blow thei

            • "If you're really old you can tell them stories about toggling in boot sequences or using punch cards"

              I remember doing that stuff ... it was kind of fun in its own way. I guess I'm "really old" ... :)

              • Re:It's a start (Score:4, Interesting)

                by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @03:30PM (#46697475) Homepage

                I remember doing that stuff ... it was kind of fun in its own way. I guess I'm "really old" ... :)

                LOL, here I'm using "really old" in such a way as to mean "my age or older".

                Was talking to someone the other day, and apparently his kid had found his cassette tapes -- he said it took 10 minutes to explain that it used to be for playing music, and another 5 minutes to convince that he wasn't joking.

                I can only imagine trying to explain the function of rabbit ears, or how the youngest person in the room was the TV remote. And don't even get me started on black and white TV with 3 stations. ;-)

      • They had some freakish security flaw and were recently disabled, supposedly. I never bothered to check, they were never compelling enough.

    • Doesn't this update have the Start Menu again? I wonder if alternatives like Classic Shell or Start8 would still work now, for those who insist their start menu look more like the one in Windows 7.

      Disclaimer: I am going off things I have read, and have not had the chance to update the Windows 8.1 system I am typing from yet.

      • by Spad (470073)

        It has a Start *button* but still uses the Start Screen from vanilla Win 8.

        • by Spad (470073)

          Wow, really can't tell if this is sarcasm or not (from the linked MSDN Blog entry)

          It does NOT include the Start menu that you may have seen/heard about at the recent Build conference. That is some exciting near-future stuff, which demonstrates our on-going commitment to deliver on customer feedback.

          • Oh, I see - that is unfortunate. The rumors I had heard were that the big update today was going to include all of that... rather disappointing that it doesn't. Sorry for the confusion!

          • by maugle (1369813) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:53PM (#46696219)
            A menu that's actually usable, that doesn't throw you into the awful metro interface, is considered by Microsoft to be "exciting near-future stuff".

            ...That's just goddamn depressing.
          • by Kjella (173770)

            Wow, really can't tell if this is sarcasm or not (from the linked MSDN Blog entry)

            No, the reality detachment is part of the job requirements. Engineers might be able to keep a straight face for a sales meeting or two, but to really sell moderately good products well you have to drink your own kool-aid. Even when I'm on their side and they're not trying to sell me anything, everyone from marketing and sales I've ever met seems to have an over inflated view of the software's features, capabilities, quality and suitability for whatever the client asks for and trying to take them down a notc

          • isn't that the textbook definition of "vaporware"?
        • That is what the *current* (read: before today's update) version of 8.1 has. I believe this is the update that is adding back a Start Menu, and letting you run "apps" within windows on the desktop.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            No, this is just the first step towards it. The one with the actual start menu and apps in windows is still coming soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AudioEfex (637163)

      I agree. I lived with Win8 for a month or so but just got so annoyed having to slide my mouse around just to close a window and having to fight just to get to the desktop. I gave it a good try, but then I just booted the whole thing and went back to Win7.

      It wasn't a lack of willingness to adapt, it was because the interface clearly was not aimed at traditional desktop use. And I have no desire whatsoever for a touch screen - one at the size I would need is not only prohibitively expensive for what I'd

    • by luther349 (645380)
      that's is coming and its looks pretty dam nice almost like loghorn.
    • by plj (673710)

      There is a screenshot (not photoshopped!) of a development build with live tiles in start menu (instead of the desktop) and a modern UI app (Mail) in a window, so maybe the future will bring something roughly like that you wish for. See here [theregister.co.uk].

    • Some of the changes are actually pretty good. The hover-over title bar on Metro Apps seems like a no-brainer. The hover-over, universal task bar for easy app switching is also a really good idea. Right-clicking works now on the Start Screen... where have you been?

      I mean, it's real easy to see these things in hindsight, but you gotta wonder whether anyone in Microsoft was testing this out on desktops with large screens, and didn't reflexively hit the right-button and expect something to appear. I mean,
    • Well, you will be getting a proper start menu again, at an uncertain future point in time. I'll venture a guess that it's not too far away.

      It's Windows 7 Start Menu on the left and miniature version of the Windows 8 Start Screen on the right, in a format slightly larger than Windows 7's Menu.

  • It's been in development for months, but some middle manager decided that the day that XP died was the day to push this out.

    Offtopic: Does anyone know of a Day the Music Died song parody called something like "Day my XP Died"?

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:44PM (#46696105) Journal

      A long long time ago,
      I can still remember how that NT kernel made me smile.
      And I knew that if I had my chance,
      I'd write a helluva lot cool VB 6 apps.
      And maybe my manager would be happy for a while.

      But April made me shiver,
      With each Win 8 PC I'd deliver.
      Bad news in the staffroom steps.
      And I couldn't take one more step.

      I can't remember if I cried,
      When I read about some XP user heaved a sigh.
      But something touched me deep inside.
      The day Windows XP died.

      So bye bye Windows XP has died.
      Rode my Segway to the to the levy,
      But the levy was dry.
      And good ol' sysadmins were drinking coffee and Sprite,
      Singing "This is the day Windows XP has died,
      This is the day Windows XP has died."

    • Hitting those XP users with the carrot.

    • It's a coincidence. Today is patch tuesday, XP's last (thus the official end of support), which is when this kind of stuff is typically distributed.

  • by sinij (911942) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:41PM (#46696057) Journal
    You can pry Start Button from my cold blue-screen hands.
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:08PM (#46696413)

      The amazing thing (to me, anyway) is that I always hated the start menu. Never liked having such redundancy... rather than giving me some flexibility in how applications are organized you make this ghetto of delicate "shortcuts", requiring installers for even the most simple binaries.

      And yet, what they replaced it with is so much worse that I find myself wishing for it back.

      I would not have thought this was possible.

      • by lgw (121541)

        I like the start menu for what it is: a comprehensive tree of everything I have installed, including all the rarely used stuff. But it wasn't great for what I'd use often.

        I really like where Win 7 ended up. The stuff I use every day is on my task bar, and once I launch it all, the order of the task bar is fixed, much to the delight of my muscle memory.

        The stuff I use once a week or so, I can put in the short list in my start menu. The rest is still browseable (and easy to organize if I care to), and sear

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:56PM (#46696955)

          I like the start menu for what it is: a comprehensive tree of everything I have installed

          But that's not quite what it is - it's a tree of everything that decided to put stuff there. If you manually dragged an exe to Program Files, no show. If some uninstaller didn't remember the shortcut, you have a dead link. Worse, it's an idea decidedly rooted in a single-user machine, so exterminating an entry means looking in a few different places that they added to accommodate multiple users.

          I really do like Windows 7 as well. Still not sold on the Start Menu :) At least in 7 it rarely bothers me. Frequent programs I have pinned to the task bar so that I can use the "pinned" feature in the right-click menu. Less-frequently accessed stuff can be accessed with a quick tap of the Windows button and a few letters from the name. I was quite shocked when I moved to Windows 8. I gave it a year and still hated it. When the hard drive died and I found out how horrid Windows 8 backup is, I moved back to 7.

          • by lgw (121541)

            But that's not quite what it is - it's a tree of everything that decided to put stuff there. If you manually dragged an exe to Program Files, no show. If some uninstaller didn't remember the shortcut, you have a dead link. Worse, it's an idea decidedly rooted in a single-user machine, so exterminating an entry means looking in a few different places that they added to accommodate multiple users.

            Those are all really Windows XP complaints though. I don't have these problems with Win 7, other than the couple of lingering tools I use with no Windows installer. The combination of MS's open source installer tools (WIX) and the "side by side" fix for DLL Hell means almost everything has proper packaging in Windows now.

            I'm forced to use Win 8 in a couple of places myself - thank goodness for Classic Shell!

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Yeah, like I said in the other branch of this thread, Windows 7 hardly ever gets in my way. It cleaned up a lot of rough edges in XP, and it includes a (mostly) useful backup program that can restore from images. I like it a lot, and my one-year "upgrade" to Windows 8 was a mistake.

              I still get irritated every time I install something like Putty, where I have to drag the EXE to a folder, make a shortcut, and then drag that to the Start menu. To be fair, you can drag it directly to the Start Menu. I'm sure th

  • Windows 3.1 -> worked
    Windows 98 -> crashed but worked sometimes
    Windows ME -> just crashed
    Windows XP -> worked, but has it's drawbacks (64bit version was better, but never really useful due to missing drivers)
    Windows Vista -> too much trouble to use
    Windows 7 -> useful, but not as customizable as XP
    Windows 8.x -> not so useful if you don't have a touch screen, less and less accessible customizations possible
    Windows 9 -> hoping that Windows 8 is like Vista and Windows 9 will be useful l

    • Windows 3.1: good
      Windows 95: bad
      Windows 98: good
      Windows ME: bad
      Windows XP: good
      Windows Vista: bad
      Windows 7:good
      Windows 8.x: bad
      Windows 9: ???

      I always figured it was a marketing strategy on a good day. On a bad day I figure it's a cycle of Lazy -> Oh shit! -> motivated -> relief -> lazy

      • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:43PM (#46696791)

        Windows 1.0;2.0;2.1: forgettable
        Windows 3.0: not bad but definitely not good

        Windows 3.1: good
        Windows NT 3.1: really bad but has potential
        Windows3.11 Windows For Workgroups (WFW): very good
        Windows NT 3.5;3.51: really good

        Windows 95: meh
        Windows NT 4.0: bad
        Windows 98;98SE: good
        Windows 2000: good
        Windows ME: evil
        Windows XP: good
        Windows Vista: bad
        Windows 7:good
        Windows 8.x: bad
        Windows 9: ???

        I always figured it was a marketing strategy on a good day. On a bad day I figure it's a cycle of Lazy -> Oh shit! -> motivated -> relief -> lazy

        • by keith_nt4 (612247)

          For the record NT4 with SP 6 and Internet Explorer...I want to say 4 or 5 I don't remember...was incredibly stable and tough (IE added a few new features for making getting on the internet easier). Could not crash that thing no matter what. It really blew my mind having only ever otherwise used 3.1 and 95 at the time. I used it on my home PC for years. Had the latest directx included until well into windows 2000's life actually. I only switched because I had immediate access to XP (I want to say january 20

    • You missed win95 and a few others but...

      I liked win95c w/usb support it made win98 look like crash prone bloat-ware which is sad considering how much better win98 was compared to winME

  • by iampiti (1059688) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:45PM (#46696119)
    It's probably the refusal of many corporations to upgrade to Windows 8 that got Microsoft to make these changes but it's still a win for everyone.
    When designing Windows 8 the new Start screen looked a perfect plan to get the masses to buy apps through their store and thus getting more revenue from Windows. It'd also get them used to the UI shared by Windows Phone which would surely get the fledging smartphone platform many more users.
    So when so many people refused to use Win 8 they must've thought "If we backtrack a bit we'll get many people to change to Windows 8, if we don't, we'll get fewer". It's also good to see that Microsoft no longer has near infinite power on the PC world. I'm currently starting to fear Google much more (they know so much about us...) but that's another topic
    • Pretty much. I know our suppliers simply ask "And you will want Windows 7 on that laptop/workstation, right?" There is an automatic assumption that Windows 8 is not wanted in the enterprise.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        We get our machines stickered with Win8 licenses, and then immediately blast that shit off the drive and lay down our Win7 image. Our enterprise agreement allows us N-1 versioning, so we buy the Win8 licenses just in case Windows 8 turns into something that is actually useable someday, or worst case, take advantage of cheap license upgrades for N+1.

      • There is also the question of all the applications that just are not compatible or are just plain not supported on win8. This is why the place I work migrated to win7 instead of win8 we stall have critical applications that are not compatible or just plain not supported by the manufacture on win8.

  • The Post-PC era (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom Clowers (3595643) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:47PM (#46696153)
    So, we're just gonna start calling it "non-touch" hardware now?
  • I think its great they are fixing their OS...

    The problem is that they are making user facing changes in a maintenance stream.

    • Many will consider this a major bugfix.

      Think of it like someone accidentally wiped a decent portion of Desktop code from Windows 8's source and now they've had to slowly add stuff back without breaking anything, taking the opportunity to rewrite decades-old code along the way.

      It even sounds plausible as an alternative to "Everyone at Microsoft went insane at once and the result was Windows 8."

  • About three more updates and it may finally have as much functionality of Windows 7. The Microsoft line about Windows 8, "users will get used to it," doesn't exactly sounds like an upgrade.
  • Windows 8... no more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Camel Pilot (78781) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:16PM (#46696505) Homepage Journal

    Last week after my disk totally crashed I had to decide to re-install Window 8 and re-install a long list of apps - several which are updates and require the original disk (ah where are they)....hmmmm I thought here goes the day.

    I decided to install CentOS Desktop instead. I am familiar with CentOS in the server mode as I use it on my dedicated server. Within an hour I was back up and running and being productive in my consulting business. My QHD / Nvidia graphic card were recognized and drivers installed, HP printer setup was simple, digital camera is recognized, scanner, etc. I really prefer the Gnome 2 interface to Windows 8 (and even Gnome 3) it stays out of my way and lets me get my work done efficiently.

    I really haven't missed Windows at this point... well maybe Notepad++ just a little and haven't figured out what to do about Quickbooks yet. Maybe I can install enough plugins to get Gedit to be a reasonable editor and I may have to setup a windows virtual machine to run Quickbooks or find an alternative.

    This morning on the radio I overheard an advertisement offering a Windows "speed-up service" with the main pitch being that over time your Windows machine become slower and slower being encumbered with cruft, malware, "help functions", virus, etc .. I couldn't keep from smiling.

    • by nashv (1479253) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @02:41PM (#46696769) Homepage

      Pretty much agree with what you said. If you're looking for a Notepad++ replacement, you might be pleased by Sublime Text or any of the other alternatives [alternativeto.net].

      • Thanks for the recommendation. At the time I just needed to get up and running quick... now i have more time to investigate some alternative text editors.

        I also thought I was going to miss WinSCP but the gnome "places" is actually a better solution for the work I do which is largely editing files on remote servers. Also tabbed terminal app cleans up the workspace as opposed to numerous putty windows and virtual workspaces... oh my.

  • From the article summary:
    >It is also a required update for Windows 8.1

    From the article:
    >Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)

    Summary should have read that it's mandatory for all Win8 installs, not just 8.1. Bit misleading. Still, a UI update is mandatory for future security updates?

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