Windows 8.1 Update 1: How to Download it Now

Just as the company pulls the plug on Windows XP support on Tuesday, Microsoft is breathing new life into Windows 8.1 with the launch of Windows 8.1 Update. This should be good news for the mouse/keyboard crowd, making it easier to navigate both the desktop and the Modern UI-based Start Screen. This update is a mandatory install for all Windows 8.1 customers.

"It is a required update to keep your Windows 8.1 device current," states Microsoft's Premier Field Engineering blog. "Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014."

Haven't updated to Windows 8.1 yet? Then none of this applies to you. In fact, Windows 8 will be supported up until January 12, 2016, so you have plenty of time to consider Windows 8.1 and the subsequent updates. We suspect Windows 9 will arrive this time next year along with Windows Phone 9 and the unified store for those who would rather wait for the next full-blown OS release.

Customers on Windows 8.1 will find that the update is cumulative, meaning all previously released security and non-security updates will be installed if needed. KB2919442 is a prerequisite update, which was released in March 2014. This will need to be installed before the Windows 8.1 Update will be recognized if it isn't already.

Don't want to wait on Microsoft? These patches will bring your Windows 8.1 device up to date with the new Update 1 makeover:

64-bit Windows 8.1: KB2919442, KB2932046, KB2919355, KB2938439, KB2937592.

32-bit Windows 8.1: KB2919442, KB2932046, KB2919355, KB2938439, KB2937592.

Windows RT 8.1: KB2919442, KB2932046, KB2919355, KB2938439, KB2937592.

What you won't see in the Windows 8.1 Update is the highly-anticipated Start Menu. "That is some exciting near-future stuff, which demonstrates our on-going commitment to deliver on customer feedback," reads Microsoft's blog on Monday. This seems to indicate that the Start Menu may make an appearance in the rumored Update 2 release supposedly going live in October.

If there's no Start Menu, then what does this update bring? For one, Power and Search clickable icons are placed on the Start Screen to make these two functions easier to perform. Microsoft's blog points out that you can do a search by merely typing on the Start Screen, but these icons should make searching for apps a lot easier. Even more, no more right-clicking on the Start icon to turn off the PC as the default shut-down procedure.

The new update allows users to pin Start Screen apps to the taskbar, thereby merging the Start Screen and Desktop interfaces even more. Windows 8.1 Update also now boots into the desktop by default unless the device in question is a tablet form factor. This makes more sense; the Start Screen should be the default interface on touchy mobile devices, not your standard non-touch desktop or laptop.

Microsoft's blog reports that the Windows 8 team has also added a new group of tiles to make navigation even easier: This PC (aka My Computer), PC Settings, Documents and Pictures. The blog notes that only new profiles will see these on the Start Screen; existing profiles will presumably have to pin them to the Start Screen from the Apps listing. Windows RT 8.1 users will only receive the PC Settings tile.

For a detailed list of cosmetic changes made to Windows 8.1 by the new update, head here.

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    Top Comments
  • Zepid
    You could always search and launch via the startscreen by simply typing and entering. Most of these upgrades are for the elderly and stubborn who can't be bothered to take 10-20ms of time to understand the minor graphical changes that Win8 brought.
    11
  • bmwman91
    Good for them for not bringing the Start Menu back. I don't miss it at all. It seemed weird without it at first and I had a few frustrations as I figured out where a few things got moved, but once I removed the various metro apps and checked a few settings boxes, it was running in normal "desktop" mode and I think that the start screen is actually more fluid and user friendly than the start menu ever was. I actually like the full-screen start screen. Win key + a couple of letters + enter and just about anything I want to run is running without having to reach for the mouse. To each their own though.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • Zepid
    You could always search and launch via the startscreen by simply typing and entering. Most of these upgrades are for the elderly and stubborn who can't be bothered to take 10-20ms of time to understand the minor graphical changes that Win8 brought.
    11
  • soccerplayer88
    Heh, still can't bring back the Start Menu can you Microsoft?

    Wonder if all those Windows 8 users are going to feel like they're left out in the cold with Windows 9 around the corner. Vista anyone? lol
    -7
  • bmwman91
    Good for them for not bringing the Start Menu back. I don't miss it at all. It seemed weird without it at first and I had a few frustrations as I figured out where a few things got moved, but once I removed the various metro apps and checked a few settings boxes, it was running in normal "desktop" mode and I think that the start screen is actually more fluid and user friendly than the start menu ever was. I actually like the full-screen start screen. Win key + a couple of letters + enter and just about anything I want to run is running without having to reach for the mouse. To each their own though.
    10