Tag Archives: software

Win8 to Windows 8.1 Update 1 – Tracking Desktop Changes

Much to Microsoft’s surprise the Windows Desktop is very important to many groups of people.  Win8’s initial release was a desktop disaster. After firing the the head Windows chief, Microsoft made some much welcome changes in Win8.1 and then some more in Win8.1 Update 1.  I posted on the changes from Windows 8.0 to 8.1 previously.  This is an update to include Update 1.

Requested Feature

Win8 Status Win 8.1 Status Win 8.1 Update 1 Status

Start button

Only available with 3rd party plugin The Start Button has returned in 8.1. If you are in the anti-start-button crowd then you can disable it. Good decision by Microsoft and it is proof they do listen to customers. No change since 8.1
Start Menu Only available with 3rd party plugin Although the Start Button is back, there is not an updated version of the start menu you are used to. This may not be what traditionalist had in mind, but the experience in 8.1 is definitely an improvement over 8.0. In 8.1 there are two screens — your Modern Start Screen and a new “all apps” screen — similar to the two screen modal in Windows Phone. Now when you install an app it is listed in “all apps” and not automatically pinned to your Modern Start Screen. In 8.0 the start menu was the Modern UI screen and other than tile placement there was no way to sort or organize your apps. In 8.1 the Start button takes you to the “all apps” screen that can be sorted alphabetically, by most used, by date installed, and by category. It is a serviceable replacement for the real Start Menu but if you’re making the jump from Win7 to Win8.1 it does looks different and takes some time getting used to. No change since 8.1
Boot to the Desktop Option Only available with 3rd party plugin Yes, this is now available in 8.1. For us Corporate types, having a start button and the ability to boot to the desktop will make migrating to Win8.1 less painful for our users. In fact, this is probably the number one reason most corporations skipped Windows 8. The Desktop is now the default option if you don’t have a touchscreen. This will be welcome news to many Win7 upgraders.
Trashcan docked on the taskbar Not possible Still not possible. I don’t think this will ever happen since the desktop is now considered legacy and there is very little development occurring. However, it would have been one small item that would have made life easier for non technical people. No change.
Pin Modern UI apps to the desktop or taskbar Only available with 3rd party plugin Only available with 3rd party plugin Huge change here. Modern apps are now treated as equal citizens to traditional desktop programs. All running programs appear on the taskbar. You can now pin any modern app. There isn’t quite feature parity as I describe here.
Access Windows Store from the Desktop No option that I am aware of No option that I am aware of It’s not the desktop, but the Windows Store icon is pinned to the taskbar by default. Of course this can be unpinned.
Preinstall/Integrate Skydrive to the desktop Desktop Skydrive had to be downloaded and installed manually. The Skydrive Desktop app is now preinstalled with Windows 8.1. In fact, it seems built in and not a separate app. No change here, other than SkyDrive is now called OneDrive.
Bring Back Free Windows Media Center This is only available as a $9.99 download from the Windows Store I have no idea what’s going on here. I think they have moved all new Media Center development to the Xbox One. No change and I still miss Media Center.
DVD Playback Only available with Windows Media Center or 3rd party codec install (try explaining that to your grandma, your boss, or any other sane human.) T.B.D. No change.
Built-in Image Resizer No built in option. Numerous 3rd party options available, but I prefer this ultra simple tool. No built in option. No change. Remember the old old XP PowerToy for this?  It has made by Microsoft so someone had the idea once.
Share From the Desktop Nothing can be shared from the desktop. Screenshots of the desktop can now be captured and shared with the Share Charm. This is actually a good idea since taking a screenshot without a keyboard often requires phalange gymnastics to hit the right key combo. This is an improvement over 8.0 but I still would like to be able to share a web page, a document, or other object from the desktop — not just a screen capture of what I’m look at. The screenshot sharing is a little akward since there is no easy to save the screenshot, only share it through an app or email. The share options need a “save locally” option. No change since 8.1.
Updated Desktop Icons The desktop icons had a major facelift in Vista and some minor tweaks in Win7.  It’s time they were overhauled with the Win8 modern look. No change. No change.
IE Parity with Modern Version The modern version of IE allows navigation (back/forth) by swiping. The desktop version does not unless you have a 3rd party app like “flicks.” No change. No change.