Today, a preview build of Windows 8.1 Update 1 leaked to the Internet. Windows 8.1 Update 1 is a rollup of several updates as well as some new features which Microsoft plans to offer to Windows 8.1 users. While this update has nothing new of significance for regular Desktop users, it contains few notable changes to the Modern UI, the way it integrates with the Desktop and to Internet Explorer 11. I have successfully installed the leaked '6.3.9600.16596.WINBLUES14_GDR_LEAN.140114-0237' build inside the latest VirtualBox and would like to offer you a brief overview of the new features in this build.
The list of changes is not big actually (and definitely not impressive as far as I am concerned), but here we go:
- Taskbar support for Modern Apps: Using the updated Taskbar settings, you can enable this feature so that running Modern apps show on the Taskbar. Again, this is nothing exciting. The ability to show any running apps on the taskbar is a basic feature of Windows since Windows 95 and so this is how it should always have been even for Store apps. Surprisingly, in this build, when you switch to the Modern app using the Taskbar button and start working in the app, the Taskbar hides automatically and does not show again even if the pointer touches the bottom edge of the screen.
It looks like this:
- Modern apps pinning via a context menu: Now it is possible to pin a Modern app (i.e. Weather or Reading List) to the Taskbar. This can be done via a new context menu which now shows when you right click a Modern app from the Start screen.
- Minimize or close Modern apps using buttons in the title bar: Now every Modern app has a titlebar which becomes visible when you move the mouse pointer to the top of the screen. This definitely improves the situation for mouse users. Clicking the icon in the title bar (the app's upper left corner) shows the regular window menu with options to Snap, Minimize and Close.
- Shutdown and search buttons on the Start screen.
- The Apps view is sorted by name by default:
- Internet Explorer is updated to version 11.0.3 Internet Explorer 11.0.3 has a hidden Enterprise Mode for compatibility with legacy web pages which won't display properly in standards mode.
Use our Enterprise Mode Unlocker for IE 11 in Windows 8.1 Update 1 to unlock it.
- A link to the 'classic' Control Panel directly from the PC Settings app:
- DPI scaling changes: If your display's native resolution is more than 1800 pixels, then the font scaling is set to 250% scaling. Also, there is a 500% scaling option although you could always set it previously from Custom settings.
That's all at the moment. Even though Microsoft has added a few tweaks for traditional PC users, they are still headed in the direction of making the Windows 8 OS family overall touch-friendly and Store-oriented. For me, it looks like the open Desktop is slowly dying in modern Windows, and I can't say that I am happy about it.
Update: At //build/ 2014, Microsoft has announced more improvements coming in a later update to Windows 8.1.