Microsoft details Windows 8.1 update, comes in spring

Microsoft MWC event
A lot of interesting announcements

A new update to Windows 8.1 will be released within weeks and will bring a number of tweaks made to the user interface for mouse and keyboard users as well as the underlying core.

That's what Microsoft's VP of Operating System, Joe Belfiore, announced during a special event held ahead of the official launch of Mobile World Congress on Monday.

Windows 8.1 was only launched a few months ago but it seems that Microsoft has been fast-tracking a set of features based on user feedback. The updat will be available for x86 (Windows 8.1) and ARM platforms (Windows RT).

These include a discoverable search, power, settings buttons on the start screen, title bars at the top of full screen apps, a new mouse user interface for right click (start) and close (apps), easy app launching and switching va the taskbar. This confirms what a number of leaks have revealed over the past few weeks.

Best Windows OS ever?

Belfiore confirmed that form factors other than the traditional five (smartphone, tablet, convertible, AIO/ desktop, TV and gaming) are being evaluated by Microsoft and that there will be an IE8 compatibility mode for IE11, a much sought-after and highly demanded feature from entreprise customers who have developed customised applications for Windows 7.

Investing in a few UI changes will help improve experience for non-touch users while more hardware options will bring much more flexibility in order to lower price points. Improved compatibility for the education and entreprise markets will allow businesses to offer more compatibility with legacy solutions.

Windows 8.1, he said, has been the platform's fastest upgrade ever. 200 million licenses have been shipped with a big increase (five fold) in number of developers signing up for Windows 8.1. Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have a bigger marketeshare than all versions of OS X combined.

An intriguing feature of the new update is that it will lower the hardware requirement for Windows, down to 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which is essentially netbook-level. Expect a lot of Windows-powered devices using Intel's Atom processor to hit the £150 levels pretty soon.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.