Is Windows 8.1 Worth the Upgrade?

By Abdullah Saqib
In Technology
Oct 20th, 2013
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Windows 8.1 UpgradeAlthough Microsoft has put on great effort in reshaping its outlook since the inception of Windows 8 and Microsoft Outlook 2013, the level of response is nowhere near the point anticipated and forecasted by analysts both in and outside the software giant. Despite utmost innovation and rigorous marketing, the vision of coupling the Windows experience in a manner synonymous to desktop, laptops, tablets and other mobile devices (touch vs. the traditional mouse and keyboard) has been more attractive to the modern user base in contrast to the traditional or conventional Windows loyalists.

For example, the replacement of Start Menu with Start Screen or even the mysterious yet tedious way to shutdown your computer had many users stick on to older versions of Windows than the latest. In an article published by the New York Times last year, No Sales Pop For A New Version Of Windows, some relevant insights have been highlighted which solidify the apparently unusual description of Windows 8 penned earlier. The article presents a very useful finding saying, “According to NPD, stores in the United States sold 13 percent fewer Windows devices from late October, when Windows 8 made its debut, through the first week in December, than in the same period last year.

Three days ago, Microsoft unveiled a free upgrade for some users of Windows 8 and a price tagged DVD for the rest, dubbed Windows 8.1. Things have changed, no doubt, but we present to you the other side of the story – a critical analysis (including the new features, improvement, enhancements and changes) of Windows 8.1 and whether you should upgrade to the latest Windows or not. Read on after the jump, for a more optimistic overview of Windows 8.1.

To fully address the initial question, Is Windows 8.1 worth the upgrade, we must first analyze the tweaks and feature additions it brings to Windows 8. On the other hand, If you have already made up your mind to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 (free of cost), access Windows Store from the Start Screen or click here to directly reach there. If you face any issues, go through our upcoming post, How To Upgrade From Windows 8 To Windows 8.1, and get on top of the latest.

As an icebreaker with respect to the feature set, Microsoft itself has announced that Windows 8.1 is an amalgam of the following advantages: easier navigation, enhanced search, wide range of apps, redesigned Windows Store, better multitasking and productivity, deep integration and a more personal experience. To briefly go through the surface details, you may want to view the Windows 8.1 Press Release. It highlights the vision and goal Microsoft has while presenting such an upgrade:

Windows 8.1 evolves the Windows vision for highly personalized computing while showcasing Microsoft’s continued commitment to rapid and responsive development. It marks a wave of new, innovative devices coming for consumers and businesses — from the convenience and mobility of tablets and 2-in-1s to the productive experience expected from laptops, all-in-ones and specialized industry devices.

Despite the apparent advantages, let’s go through some of the most important tweaks that ensures a new experience.

The Return Of The Start Button

One of the most radical changes Windows 8 had brought was the replacement of the Start Menu with the Start Screen. Although the slick and modern Metro UI surely caught the user’s attention, but the experience wasn’t the same for the traditional keyboard and mouse users. Many users retained Windows 7 because of the presence of the Start button and the relevant menu in it, in order to stay in their comfort zone. Well, Microsoft has repented on this a bit and has included a Start Button in Windows 8.1.

Right Clicking it brings forth the good old Start Menu while left clicking it presents the usual options (Task Manager, Run, etc.) including the ability to Shutdown, Restart, Hibernate and relevant options (phew, finally an easy way to shut down your computer).

Windows 8.1 Start Menu Options

Robert McLaws Tweet

Restoring The Desktop Experience

Windows 8 made the Start Screen the focus and center of the modern user interface in a manner that the ability to search, navigate and access apps and programs became possible through this landing page. The desktop was treated merely as an app which could be closed when needed or minimized upon requirement. In a way this was beneficial for users who had few icons on the desktop and frequently used most of their programs. For others the thought of landing on to a screen other than the desktop became a distraction and hurdle in adapting to the new environment. Keeping this concern in consideration, Windows 8.1 allows you to enable the option to boot straight on or land directly on to the desktop upon startup.

What’s more? The hot corners in Windows 8 (i.e. the ability to access Start Screen from the bottom left corner, active programs from the top left corner and the charms bar from the bottom right corner) can be disabled in Windows 8.1. This practically means that Microsoft is trying its best to convince the traditional users to stay in their comfort zones by simply customizing the Windows 8 experience by upgrading to Windows 8.1.

A Simple Way Of System Shut Down

Windows 8.1 allows you to configure and enable the much awaited Slide To Shut Down feature which makes shutting your system easier than a swipe. Simply drag your lock screen from the top to the bottom to shut your PC down. This is not a default feature but if you go through our upcoming post, How To Enable Slide To Shut Down Feature In Windows 8.1, you will definitely get to the bottom of the mystery and make things easier.

Slide-To-Shutdown-in-Windows-81

Image Courtesy : IntoWindows

Multi Tasking Made Easier

One of the many advantages of Windows 8 is improved productivity, device and platform integration coupled with compatibility while providing an environment prone to multi tasking. This is why most of Microsoft Office 2013 users have Windows 8 installed. Windows 8.1 strengthens this popular area in a manner that you can now customize and manage more windows or snaps in a single screen. You can now manage more apps and programs on a single screen depending on your resolution.

This improved snap feature makes life easier for those who have made good use of the usual predefined snap environment in the past. For the new and novice users, this functionality may not seem as simple as portrayed. The solution in such cases is experimentation and curiosity.

SnapView Multitasking Win8.1

Image Courtesy : Mashable

Smarter Search The Bing Way

In Windows 8, you could easily search for apps, programs, folders and settings simply by typing on to the Start Screen. If you’ve used Facebook’s Graph Search, Microsoft has brought a similar more intelligent way of searching both your system and the web by making the Smart Search feature available in Windows 8.1. If you type a query on your system (and you’re connected to the internet), Windows 8.1 will use Bing to give you the most relevant results where you need them.

Useful Links

We have by no means given a complete list of the new features Windows 8.1 has in store for you. The purpose of this post is to address the most common concerns users had in the past with Windows 8 that prevented them from moving on to the system. For more details, here’s a collection of useful articles that provide in depth understanding on Windows 8.1 features:

1. What’s New In Windows 8.1? [Official]

2. Compare Windows 8.1 Editions [Official]

4. The 10 Best Reasons To Upgrade To Windows 8.1

The Verdict

Despite all the challenges created by Windows 8, the new Windows 8.1 is a really nice effort by Microsoft in delivering value to the somewhat dissatisfied user base. By offering more customizations and a unified user interface coupled with more system tweaks, Windows 8.1 is definitely worth the upgrade (on top of everything else, Windows 8.1 saves more space than Windows 8 and according to Microsoft you will win back 8-15% of your storage space back simply by upgrading to Windows 8.1). So what are you waiting for? Go get it! Remember, the upgrade isn’t as simple as it seems to be. Stay tuned and our upcoming post, How To Upgrade From Windows 8 To Windows 8.1, will show you the way. If you are already one of the proud Windows 8.1 users, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

Sources 

Twitter
IntoWindows
Mashable

About "" Has 24 Posts

Abdullah Saqib
Abdullah Saqib is a telecom engineer by qualification and a product manager in the mobile value added sector by profession. He is a freelance writer with hundreds of articles published across various well-known blogs like AddictiveTips, Under30Careers and the like, relevant to technology, business, and career.

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