Windows 8.1 Update 1 (that is so clumsy) has been rolling out all week and reviewers are singing hosannas to the update, which focuses on making the OS more keyboard- and mouse-friendly. See our own in-depth review for more details.
The Update is designated as an "Important" security update in Windows Update, when a more appropriate term would be "mandatory." You see, Microsoft is going to require all Windows 8.1 users to have Windows 8.1 Update 1 installed for them in order to receive future updates.
In an April 7 post discussing the update, Microsoft's Premier Field Engineering blog, Microsoft leaves no room for ambiguity.
"Failure to install this (Windows 8.1) Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)"
So much for giving people time to test it before rolling it out. But I suspect Windows 8's enterprise penetration is minimal anyway.
However, if you are still using the original Windows 8, unmodified with the 8.1 update, then you won't need to apply Update 1. Windows 8 will be supported by Microsoft until January 12, 2016, according to the Windows 8 lifecycle page. However, there is one bit of good news: you can go straight from Windows 8 to 8.1 Update 1 without having to install 8.1 first. Update 1 is a cumulative update.
Work continues on the Windows 8 line. Microsoft has said that a restored Start Menu and windowed Metro-Style apps will eventually be available in the much-maligned operating system, a mea culpa that admits the original design was flat wrong.
Adding these features is not trivial, so I expect that it will take Microsoft some time. Some people are wondering why the Start menu wasn't included in Update 1, but if you look at Start, it's woven through the entire OS. It has to track all your apps, your document history, have integrated search for the PC and know all of your PC, since it runs the Control Panel from Start.
That's a whole lot of integration and touching virtually every component of the operating system. So it will take Microsoft some time to get that installed and properly tested. It's not something they can just bolt on.
I've experimented with Update 1. While it does finally add all of the necessary features for us keyboard and mouse users, I have a stable, smooth-functioning Windows 7 machine and see no reason to disrupt it and spend days getting back to square 1. Maybe if the day comes that I have to reinstall the OS, I'll consider moving 8.1 from the test bed to the main machine, but for now, it's just too much disruption for too little gain.
But hey, at least I'm not saying it sucks.