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Windows 8.1 is coming, are you ready?

Windows 8.1 is on its way

It feels as though Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system has barely just been launched, but believe it or not we’re already approaching the one year anniversary.

And that means there’s been a lot of time for the company to gather feedback from users and think about how to change and improve it in the future. And now those changes are on their way.

The first major update to Windows 8, dubbed Windows 8.1, will be launched officially next week and be available as a download some time towards the end of the summer.

The headline difference between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 is that Microsoft is bringing back the Start button to the desktop, by adding a small icon to the bottom left of the taskbar where it was in Windows 7 and previous versions.

What it isn’t doing, however, is stepping backwards and getting rid of the new Start screen. There’s no return for the old fashioned Start menu, and clicking the Windows logo will take you back to the new full screen interface for launching apps and keeping tabs on live tiles.

There are other changes too. The new settings menu, which is in the Windows 8 style, has more features which were previously only found in the old fashioned Control Panel – so you can change the resolution from the Modern User Interface (as the look and feel of Windows 8 is called).

There are also updates to many of the default apps planned, with new views for the photo manager and the ability to ‘Snap’ apps to fill half the screen rather than just the one third strips supported currently.

One feature we’re looking forward to is the ability to customise Live Tiles to larger sizes than are currently available, and change the background more comprehensively than before.

Outside of that, many of the changes are under the hood. As with any Windows release, there will be a lot of security fixes and tweaks that will invisibly help to protect your computer, and small performance increases that come with squashing bugs and so on.

There will be more details announced at Microsoft’s BUILD conference on the 26 June. Keep your eyes peeled.

Find out more on the Windows blog.

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