Windows 8.1 is Released

During October, Microsoft released the greatly anticipated Windows 8.1 update for its Windows 8 operating system

Here at ESP Projects we have been testing the Windows 8.1 release since it was made available via Microsoft’s beta programme.  2 of our tech support engineers installed the final version and have been using it as their sole operating system to gauge how the update has changed the feel of the system

The Windows 8.1 update addresses some of the criticisms users had experienced with the original 8.0 release of Windows.  The loudest complaints aired about the original 8.0 release surrounded the removal of the traditional ‘Start button that users were familiar with seeing in the bottom left-hand corner of the interface.  Others were concerned with the sweeping changes that Microsoft had introduced to try and bridge the gap between touchscreen devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and desktop and laptop device interfaces.

Windows 8.1 features

The single major difference provided by the update is the reappearance of the ‘Start’ button! Tapping this now brings up the tiled interface and a long press opens up system controls.  So it’s not quite the return to the full start menu that some were demanding.

  • Desktop mode – Allows users to start up the computer straight to the familiar desktop environment.  In version, 8.0 users would always be forced straight into the tiled interface.
  • Keyboard shortcuts – removes the need to toggle between different on-screen keyboards when typing numbers and letters. A full list of these can be found here
  • Gesture control – some applications, such as those for cooking, can now be paged through without the need to touch the screen. Once enabled, simply moving your hand right or left in front of your webcam will switch the page forwards or backwards!

A host of other changes, including better support for multitasking and improved links to Microsoft’s Xbox game console, are also in the update.  For anyone interested, a more comprehensive list of these can be found here

Final thoughts on Windows 8.1

So what’s the ESP Projects verdict?  We have enjoyed the experience of working in and with Windows 8.1.  The interface does still take a little bit of getting used to, with a lot of the functions in slightly different locations to the much more familiar interface of Windows 7.  We’re pleased that Microsoft is clearly trying to unify the user experience across all manner of devices, including Phone, Tablet, Laptop and Desktop.  However, we feel it is still a little bit too early to jump straight in and start rolling out Windows 8.1 across a network.  Our advice to clients is, in most cases, to purchase a Windows 8 License, but roll back the installation to Windows 7, this gives you the flexibility to upgrade at a later point when ready.

Have you tried Windows 8 or Windows 8.1? What opinions do you have on the newest version of the Windows OS?  We would love to hear your thoughts.  Tweet us: @espprojects