Windows 8.1 Review

Windows 8.1:  Should You Upgrade?     

11/1/2013 | Fernando Lyons

On October 17th, Microsoft released its first update to its controversal tiled app-based Windows 8.0 Operating System (OS).  The reactions to 8.0 were mixed, and the primary complaints revolved around the overall look, and the questionable omission of the Start button from the traditional desktop view.  The 8.1 update addresses some of the issues, but are these tweaks enough to convince the Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 holdouts to upgrade their OS? 


First lets address the elephant in the room.  Whether you like it or not, the tiled app view is here to stay.  Users now have a little more screen customization, as more tile sizing and grouping options are available.  Users can also change the background behind the tiles to match their desktop wallpaper.  With all that being stated, this layout designed with touch screen navigation in mind and is here to stay, so lets move on.  Users now have the ability to have the traditional Windows desktop view displayed upon start up, instad of the tiled apps screen.  The Start Menu button has also been restored to its rightful place on the desktop view.  Unfortunately, the menu is limited from its previous iteration.  Clicking on the button simply takes you to the tiled apps screen that some of you love so much.  Right clicking on the Start button brings up a list of menu options, including File Explorer, Device Manager, Task manager, Run, Search, etc.. The ability to start a program that is not on your desktop appears to be an obvious omission.   


Multitasking has been improved.  Depending on your screen's resolution, you can have up to four programs on a split screen at a time.  More items are now available in the snap view (move cursor to the upper left hand corner of the tile screen, then move down) as well.  You can drag these items from the left to open them.  Swipe or drag the cursor from the bottom of the screen to access all of your apps.


Some apps have been improved along with the OS.  SkyDrive is now a better native experience, Facebook now has a native app, and the Store now has a much cleaner design.  The Smart Search has been updated to search everything on your machine, as well as online.  The native Internet Explorer 11 web browser now allows for an unlimited number of tabs.

Bottom Line:  
+ If you own a machine running Windows 8.0, then you should not hesitate to update to Windows 8.1.  This is a significant improvement to a good OS, and is free for you. 

- If you are using a previous version of Windows, and hate the look and feel of 8.0, then there are probably not enough improvements in 8.1 to move you to upgrade, especially at $119.99 for the Core version   

                                      and $199.99 for the Pro version. 

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