Windows 8.1 Update Now Available

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Microsoft has relented and given you back your Start button. The Windows 8.1 update is now live, and it sets about fixing some of the major complaints people had about Windows 8.

So, the Start button is back, but it’ll just take you back to the home screen with your apps – at first. The benefit of the new Start button is that it’s customizable, and that you can right-click it. You can have the Start button take you straight to your full list of apps, if you want, and right-clicking will provide you with easy access to some of the more technical options in Windows.

Once you’re back on the home screen, you’ll find that you can make your Live Tiles even bigger or smaller than before. You can also create app groups that you can easily navigate to. Speaking of apps, you’ll find some new ones, including a fitness app with health tips and a food app with recipe suggestions. Multitasking has gotten a boost – you can now have four apps running on screen at the same time, and all four windows can be resized or shoved up into corners as you see fit.

SkyDrive is now better integrated into the system. Your photos and documents will be automatically backed up into SkyDrive, without any action on your part. Speaking of integration, Bing search is now a general search on Windows 8.1, so it can come up with web results, as well as results within your apps and on your system.

The Windows Store now looks a little nicer and is a bit more user-friendly. You’ll now be greeted by staff picks, personalized recommendations, and a ‘New and Rising’ category for the most popular new apps to hit the store.

If you already have Windows 8, you can head over to the Windows Store and go get the Windows 8.1 update for free. If you don’t yet have Windows 8 and want to upgrade straight to 8.1, you can buy the upgrade from the Windows Store as a download now for $120, with the option of getting it as a DVD. Students can get Windows 8.1 Pro at a special discounted price, for $70.

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