All the latest on the Windows 8.1 update

It’s no secret that Windows 8 has been a tough sell for users. And it looks like Microsoft’s doing what it can to try to soften the OS’s unpopular image. 

A recent leak showed screenshots of Windows 8.1’s tile screen that looks to be sporting a redesign that’s more friendly to mouse-and-keyboard users. The update is rumored to be coming in March.

Microsoft saw the ease of touchscreen use as a Windows 8 selling point, but users who didn’t have touchscreens – who are most users overall – found it made a terrible user interface.

But that’s not the big news

The biggest development for the Live Tiles screen, however, is that it could no longer be the first thing users see.

There is mounting evidence that with the latest Windows 8.1 update, users will be brought directly to the desktop when they turn on their machines.

This move could be in response to somewhat disappointing adoption figures for Windows 8.1. That, coupled with a strong number of users sticking to the soon-to-be-unsupported Windows XP, may have forced Microsoft’s hand.

Other changes on the horizon

As we covered last week, Microsoft has softened its stance on continuing to offer some security protections for XP.

And moving forward, rumors seem to put the release of Windows 9 some time in 2015.

For IT shops that need to upgrade by the April end-of-life, this makes for a confusing time.

Just remember to:

  • Consider your users. Tech-savvy ones could have little difficulty picking up Windows 8’s new look. But if your shop doesn’t have a wealth of these users, the gradual adjustment of Windows 7 might be best.
  • Think about apps. Remember that you’ll need to allow time to test your apps with a new operating system to be sure they run reasonably well.
  • Allow for training or support time. Budgeting time for user training or supporting and troubleshooting will be crucial with an OS upgrade.