In the midst of the Windows Phone 8.1 announcement and Cortana, Microsoft also revealed the long-awaited update to its Windows 8 operating system for PCs and tablets. The company released Windows 8.1 last year, resurrecting the Start button on the new touch-focused platform. With today's significant update to Windows 8.1, officially dubbed Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft is clearly upping the ante.
The Windows 8.1 Update is centered on mouse and keyboard refinements. For example, when you move the mouse to the top of the screen, you will be able to view the Close and Minimize buttons. On the other hand, pointing the mouse to the bottom will reveal the taskbar. Moreover, if you right-click on a tile, a contextual menu will pop up, offering you a set of actions like resizing tiles, unpin from the Start, and pin to taskbar.
The Windows 8.1 Update also brings improvements to its key controls. Users can now locate the Power and Search buttons at the upper-right hand corner on the Start screen, just next to your account profile, making it easier to shut down the device.
Furthermore, the update can now automatically boot to the desktop instead of the home screen. Users can also pin apps from the Windows Store.
With the Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft has also improved app discovery. The Windows Store is now pinned to the taskbar by default. Of course, you can unpin it anytime. Also, when installing new apps, a notification will appear at the lower-left corner of the Start screen.
The update will also bring seamless browsing on all Windows devices. According to Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc, Internet Explorer 11 will now adapt to your browsing experience by detecting your Windows device and input type, whether it is an 8-inch touch tablet in portrait mode, or a 24-inch desktop with mouse and keyboard.
Lastly, in an effort to bring Windows 8.1 to more people, Microsoft is allowing its hardware partners to build low-cost devices for Windows. For example, hardware partners can now use Windows on devices having a 1GB RAM or 16GB of internal storage - all without sacrificing usability.
Windows 8.1 users will be able to get the update for free through Windows Update this month, April 8 to be exact. Meanwhile, those on Windows 8 will be able to download the update for free via the Windows Store.