windows-8.1-major-changes

The Windows 8.1 Update 1 changes have brought user functionality back to the forefront of Microsoft’s mind. With consumer confidence in Windows 8.1 falling, Microsoft knew it had to make some changes to start placating to those concerns. The addition of the Start Menu in a future Windows 8.1 patch will ease the frustration consumers have had with the Windows 8 OS.

The Windows 8.1 Update 1 added some new functionality to the Win + X Menu and taskbar. Let’s look at those changes and how they help you.

Must Read: First Impressions: Windows 8.1 Update 1

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Win + X Menu Changes

One of the biggest complaints of the pseudo-Start Menu added in the Windows 8.1 upgrade was that it really didn’t give the average user the functionality they need.

While registry edits and third-party programs can change the way the Win + X Menu works, the Windows 8.1 Update 1 added several new options for users.

windows-8.1-update-1-win+x-menu

These options include the Device Manager, the Task Manager, the Control Panel and the File Explorer being added to the Win + X Menu.

You also now have shut down or sign out options, too.

While this still isn’t the Start Menu you’re used to, it’s a step up adding functionality that actually matters to users.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Taskbar Changes

The taskbar went through some minor upgrades that coincide with the way the Windows Store and Modern apps work.

taskbar-pins-new-apps

When you download a new app from the Windows Store, it’ll automatically be pinned to the taskbar. You can remove these as you use fit. You can also add any Windows Store app to the taskbar for easy access.

When using a Windows Store app now, it’ll remain in the taskbar, so that when you go to the desktop, you can open it without having to rely on how Windows 8.1 works to re-open an app you’re actively using after minimizing it.

Some changes have been added to the Taskbar and Navigation properties, including the ability to toggle showing Windows Store apps on the taskbar.

taskbar-settings

In the Navigation settings, you can choose to go directly to the desktop now as opposed to booting to the Start Screen.

(6) taskbar options - 2

Third-party programs have allowed you to do this for a while but now the functionality is built into the Windows 8.1 settings.

Recommended Reading: Our Guide to Windows 8.1 Update 1 Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows 8.1 Start Screen Changes

The Start Screen has added some significant changes to help users get more from it.

The biggest change is in the upper right-hand corner, near your login details. You’ll now have the ability to Shut Down your PC, along with search it, right there.

shutdown-search

While this change my night seem like a big deal for those used to utilizing Windows 8.1, it offers an easy way to search and shutdown for those having issues with the OS. When you click on the Magnifying Glass, it simply opens the Windows Search feature you’re already using. Shut down options include the ability to power off your PC or restart it.

In the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, after installing a new app from the Windows Store, you’ll be alerted to new apps near the All Apps View button.

new-apps-installed

Some users have complained about how it’s not apparent new apps have been installed, so this was added to alert them.

This is the first update, major or minor, that Microsoft has made to Windows 8 and 8.1 that has actually addressed user concerns. While this coincides with Natya Sadella’s ascension to CEO of the company, this update was in gear long before he was announced as Steve Ballmer’s successor. Only time will tell if Sadella’s vision for an easy-to-use, cloud-based Windows suite truly comes to fruition.

Conclusion

Overall, the subtle changes to the Win + X Menu, taskbar, and Start Screen will help users stop being dependent on third party programs and registry changes to get the functionality that they want.

As you begin using the new improvements to Windows 8.1 from the update, take the time to see how they work for you and how you can move away from third party programs. The more you learn how to use Windows 8.1 as it is, the easier it is to get used to the OS.