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Windows 8.1 – The Sort-of Great Return of the Start Button

Windows 8 start menu screen with applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel.

By: Michael Kachaniwsky

The new patch for Windows 8.1 is out, and they’ve improved on the old version considerably. They’ve managed to mix in some of the old, well-loved features of Windows into the new app centered Windows 8.

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Let’s examine the New features included in Windows 8.1

Start Menu: To start things off the start button has returned, sort of. Before there was a blank area where the start button had been in Windows 7, as a painful reminder of what used to be. Now Microsoft has realized the error of their ways and they have returned the start button to the people. It exists, it just functions differently now which is why it has “sort of” returned. Instead of the old start menu popping up when you click it, the Windows 8.1 start screen appears. Personally I thought they had a winner in the old start menu, but change is inevitable. Microsoft has made it clear; the Windows 8 start menu is here to stay.

The Windows 8 start menu opened with a number of programs and applications available including Slack and Word.

Find and open programs and files quickly with the new Windows 8 start menu.

Boot up Option: Windows also now has a new boot to desktop option for PC’s. Before when the PC was started up it would throw you into the tile-based start screen. Now you have a choice, which increases personalization and allows people to choose what they are most comfortable with.

Lock and Start Screen: Microsoft has packed more lock screen and start screen options into Windows 8.1 as well. Picture passwords, for example, now allow you to use multiple images instead of just one. You can also take pictures and answer Skype calls without unlocking first, which will help mobile users with accessibility.

Search: The search function has been reworked as well. Previously you could only search for apps with the search function, there was no universal search. Now it will pull up everything, making it useful for finding files and different settings.

Apps: In Window’s 7 you could easily run multiple applications at once by splitting them across the screen. Windows 8 didn’t have that functionality; your apps would take up your whole screen. This was fine for mobile users as the screens are relatively small, but for those on the PC it was an annoyance that limited productivity. This has been remedied and expanded on with Windows 8.1, as now you can have up to 4 apps easily snapping to fit one screen.

A display of Windows 8 applications on a computer screen, including Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Windows 8’s most popular apps including Internet Explorer and the Microsoft Store.

There are other upgrades as well, such as Xbox Music having its UI redesigned, the Windows Store having its UI redesigned, SkyDrive integration, 3D printing support, Micracast streaming (Microsoft’s alternative to Apple’s AirPlay) and an improved Metro Control Panel for the mobile users.

This update is quite the improvement on the old Windows 8. It has managed to bring back some of the old features that were dearly missed while adding some new flashy features that are very interesting, such as 3D printing support. It’s a step in the right direction, but I have to wonder if it’s enough to revive sales in personal computers. Windows 8 has been accredited with the sharp decline in PC sales, which is backed by the fact that only 12.24% of desktops run Windows 8 or 8.1 (According to

If I had to make a guess, I would say that Windows 8.1 is not enough to turn things around. Yes it’s neat, and yes it brings back some of the older features but the damage has been done. People have made up their minds that Windows 8 is a failure, and I just don’t see 8.1 changing that.

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.