News has surfaced via various outlets that Microsoft has finalized the “.1” update to Windows 8. This has a two-fold implication for everyone: first, manufacturers can now start to build PCs with 8.1 instead of 8 (which may help flagging sales), and consumers can expect the major update to arrive in October, as originally promised by Microsoft. Among the improvements promised in this update, only two are likely to raise an eyebrow with most folks: the “return” of the Start menu and a more easily accessible Desktop Mode which can now be set to load on bootup. The quotes around return are explained below.
What this means for you:
Based upon dismal sales numbers, it’s likely you’ve been holding off on adopting Windows 8 unless you were forced to through the purchase of a new PC, or you were among the technically adventurous/curious. I’ve warned many of my clients away from taking on the Windows 8 “adventure” primarily because of the significant changes to the user interface. To say the differences are jarring and a productivity killer in the first few months of adoption would only be a slight exaggeration, and depending on how savvy you were with technology, that learning curve was the dealbreaker.
However, now that Microsoft has graciously given us the option to enable “Desktop Mode” by default, new users can ease into the transition using an interface that is essentially the same one they’ve used the past 10-15 years. On the other hand, the return of the “Start Menu” isn’t what you think it might be. Yes, there’s an icon in the lower left, as in past versions of windows, but it merely acts as a shortcut to the Windows 8 “Start Screen”. Granted, Microsoft supposedly has made many improvements to this interface, so it may not be all that bad, but if you want a menu like the one in Windows XP/Vista/7, you’ll need to stick to third-party addons like Pokki.