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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows 8MicrosoftWindowsmwc 2014softwareoperating systems

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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?