Microsoft responds with 8.1

During its Build 2013 conference in San Francisco, Microsoft released a preview of Windows 8.1, returning the Windows Start icon and introducing better apps and upgrades in search features. This incremental incarnation of Windows, which was crowd sourced from a wealth of user feedback, looks to address problems of its predecessor.

Though the experience on Windows 8 was initially confusing, Darren Kitamura, a senior web developer with OverAir, noted that the shortcuts made navigating the system easier. Customers were finding ways around the missing Start button with a paid app.“There is also a free program you can download that creates a start button and mimics the actions of the start button in Windows 7 which makes the system more tolerable,” he said. “On the upside I have found Windows 8 slightly faster, and more responsive with better native support for devices and multi-monitor setups.”

At the moment, Kitamura runs Windows 8 on his main desktop PC and Windows 7 on his laptop. He works on developing near field communications (NFC) on both machines but has yet to preview Windows Blue. Windows 8 received mixed reviews from operators, with its emphasis on touchscreen capabilities and apps, when it initially launched last October.

Kitamura believes much of the grief Microsoft suffered was due to the removal of the Start button and the Metro interface. “I can totally understand where Microsoft is coming from,” he said. “Consider an Android phone or an iPhone where all your applications are laid out for you, which is exactly how Windows 8 does it. This would work perfectly for touchscreen devices but for a lot of people who don’t have that, it isn’t as good for a mouse and keyboard.”

So why the return of the start button?

“Part of the reason for Microsoft to do this was to create a unified interface across their devices,” explained Kitamura. “Consider iOS and OSX with how they are distinctly different – if you took a WindowsRT tablet and then your PC which runs Windows 8 it is a basically seamless transition to the experience.”

The unification of their systems, though aimed at a segregated market, should consider desktop users instead of removing the items they loved, he added. Kitamura is looking forward to experimenting with Windows 8.1, but isn’t sure if the changes will affect his work. He does, however, believe the changes will facilitate day-to-day operations.

Windows 8.1 is a beta release, meaning it’s testing software that the average user shouldn’t install on his or her production device. Microsoft says it will release Windows 8.1 in the third quarter and it will be free for customers who own Windows 8.

Originally posted in TechPageOne, aNewDomain.

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