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Microsoft Windows 8.1 'service pack' update coming April 8

updated 01:21 pm EDT, Wed April 2, 2014

New update makes more concessions to keyboard, mouse users

At Microsoft's annual Build conference, Microsoft also announced that it has developed a major update to Windows 8.1. The update, available to users April 8, will improve the experience for keyboard and mouse users, as well as bring substantive changes to the Microsoft application store.

The taskbar will now be available anywhere, including the tile-based touch interface. A desktop user will have Windows controls inserted into app screens, allowing for a more conventional user experience, rather than just a touch-oriented one.

Changes to the Microsoft application store include notifications on the home screen of new apps installed, as well as a better search experience. Additionally, during purchase of new apps, users are informed whether an app is a universal one, or specific to one of Microsoft's three Windows 8-based operating systems.

The footprint of the operating system will contract. Microsoft claims that the update will slim the storage space required to hold the operating system by up to 60 percent.

At the same time, Microsoft took the time to showcase items that will appear in future Windows 8.1 updates. The rumored Start Menu was shown off on stage, combining the classic program selection menu with a secondary panel holding Live Tiles, and will be an optional alternative to the current Start Screen. Windowed versions of universal apps were also shown, appearing in individual windows rather than full screen, though users will still be able to switch between the two modes. The two features will not be included in the upcoming release, and Microsoft did not advise if they will form part of a later update or will form part of the next iteration of Windows.

by MacNN Staff



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