Windows 8.1 Update 1 does keyboard and mouse proud

Deploying Windows 8.1 with Update 1 makes more sense for business machines with no touch screen

Windows 8.1
Credit: Windows Supersite

The latest release of Windows 8.1 adds new mouse and keyboard controls plus other features that make it a much better choice for businesses that don’t want to spring for touch-screen computers and whose end users crave the familiarity of traditional Windows navigation. There are a string of small changes that make the operating system much friendlier to those used to Windows 7 or something earlier. Here are a few of these new features.

RELATED: Attention Windows 8.1 users: Update 1 is not an option

Windows 8.1
More apps on the Desktop taskbar

One thing mouse-and-keyboard users miss a lot in Windows 8.1 is use of the traditional Desktop view and all its functionality. Here you see the newly updated Desktop. Note the aqua mountain-skyline with sun icon in the taskbar, which denotes the Photo app. It is a Metro app (now known as a Windows Store app), and in the previous version of Windows 8.1 such apps could not be pinned to the task bar. Now they can, making them easier to find for traditional Windows users who use the Desktop as their center of operations. The taskbar displays both pinned apps and all open apps.

Windows 8.1
Power button on the Start screen

Turning off Windows 8.1 PCs has been more complicated than it needs to be – click to reveal the charms bar, click to choose power, and click to choose Shut Down. Now with the latest update on the Windows Start screen there’s a power button. Click on it and choose Shut Down. This eliminates one step and makes it easier for anyone looking for the power button to find it.

Windows 8.1
Search icon on the Start screen

Searching a Windows 8.1 computer requires simply typing the search query while the Start screen is displayed, but this isn’t intuitive to traditional desktop users. To help them out, Microsoft has added the magnifying-glass search icon to the start page. (You can see it in the previous slide.) Right clicking on it reveals the Search window as shown in this screen capture.

Windows 8.1
Hidden title bar

A title bar and an X-to-close button appear at the top of the screen in Windows Store apps when the cursor is moved off the top edge of the display. They look much as they do in traditional desktop apps. Clicking on the X button closes the app; right clicking on the icon in the upper left reveals options to split the screen with another app on either the left or right half of the screen, minimizing the app or closing it. Similarly, the taskbar jumps up when the cursor runs off the bottom of the screen.

Windows 8.1
Dialog box to modify tiles

Right clicking on application tiles as they appear on the Start screen reveals a dialog box with options including pinning or unpinning the app, uninstalling it or changing the properties of the tile itself. All these functions are possible using touch commands or left-mouse clicks, but they’re neither obvious nor intuitive to keyboard and mouse users new to Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1
Popup for essential device info

Date, time, battery life and network connectivity are all standard parts of the traditional Windows Desktop, but were lacking on the Windows 8.1 Start screen. In fact there was no simple way to gather all that information. With Windows 8.1 Update 1 this information appears to the left on the Start screen whenever the hidden charms bar is exposed by running the mouse into the upper or lower right-hand corners.

Windows 8.1
Boot to desktop

If the machine running Windows 8.1 Update 1 doesn’t have a touch screen, it will automatically boot to the Desktop, so no more having to click in the bottom left corner or finding the Desktop tile to click on.