Windows 8.1 update due in spring with concessions to mouse and keyboard users

Changes to the user interface will make it easier to hold onto your input devices.

Belfiore, right, is Microsoft's corporate vice president and manager for Windows Phone Program Management.
Belfiore, right, is Microsoft's corporate vice president and manager for Windows Phone Program Management.

At a Sunday press event prior to Mobile World Congress, Microsoft vice president Joe Belfiore led with bright news about Windows 8: Microsoft has sold 200 million licenses (more than all of OS X's user base, he noted); users have downloaded 4 million apps from the Windows Store; and 40 percent of Windows 8 machines are touch-enabled.

But for the 60 percent of Windows 8 machines still not touch-enabled, Belfiore conceded, users' "satisfaction level is lower." So when the Microsoft executive confirmed rumors of a Windows 8.1 update this spring (autumn in Australia), he also detailed three major improvements that would come with it. First and foremost will be features to give mouse-and-keyboard diehards a break.

Specific user interface changes will include what Belfiore called "discoverable Search, Power, and Settings," meaning these three features would be visible on the Start screen. There will also be a new mouse UI for right-clicking to start and close apps, and you'll be able to launch and switch apps from the taskbar.

Belfiore also made a pointed reference to the rumors that Microsoft might dial back some of Windows 8's more finger-friendly aspects. "We love touch," he proclaimed, and "we have no intent to degrade the touch experience." But he clearly wanted to placate legacy mouse-and-keyboard users: "Our measure is, Did we make things better for people without touchscreens?"

Windows 8 is also being re-tuned to allow for somewhat more lenient hardware specs — and therefore, lower prices for end users. Belfiore said hardware partners would be able to build machines with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of hardware storage. While Belfiore didn't provide any detail about actual products, those baseline specs would seem to provide room for lower-cost Windows tablets.

"This is work we have in progress now," Belfiore said in closing, offering no further details. However, in the Q&A that followed, he emphasized that Windows RT very firmly remained part of Microsoft's picture.

Belfiore's statements were echoed in a blog post that also appeared this morning.

Windows 8 tablet reviews

Toshiba Encore
Dell Venue 8

Windows 8 tablet tips

How do I escape a full-screen video on a Windows 8 tablet?
How do I connect a TV to my tablet?
How to take a screen shot on a Windows 8 tablet without a keyboard

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftoperating systemssoftwareWindowsWindows 8mwc 2014

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Melissa Riofrio

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?