ChannelLife NZ - Windows 8.1: What Windows 8 should have been

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Windows 8.1: What Windows 8 should have been

Can Microsoft's free update from Windows 8 finally become what the operating system should have always been?

That's the million-dollar question on most lips in the tech industry, as Microsoft prepares to launch Windows 8.1 - the big brother of its somewhat failing sibling.

But while Windows 8 bashing has been in fashion for some time, analysts Gartner expects the tide to turn in Redmond.

"After Microsoft unveiled Windows 8, users discussing its features criticised the newly introduced user experience, the elimination of the "start" button and the inability to boot directly to the desktop," Gartner claims.

"As much as the market wants change, it wants change on its own terms.

"Some users rejected Windows 8 because of the changes Microsoft made, coupled with a lack of discoverability, help or cues for the new user experience."

After providing the very first public demo of Windows 8.1 earlier this month, and based on information currently available, Gartner believes Windows 8.1 features could quiet most of its detractors.

"Microsoft has not revived the legacy start button in its previous format; but will provide a "start tip," which offers many of the functions and provides an experience that better integrates the desktop and the Windows 8 start screen," the analysts says.

"The wording of the Windows blog post is somewhat unclear on this point, but Microsoft is adding the ability boot to desktop.

"As described by Microsoft, the search function will offer an improved experience and return results from local devices and the Web with a compelling user experience."

Recommendations

While Gartner's advice for organisations is preliminary and may change as Microsoft provides further details on Windows 8.1, they offer the following advice:

• If you have considered Windows 8.0 only for touch-based devices, evaluate Windows 8.1 for broader deployment.

• If you have been avoiding Windows 8.0 but usually prefer to adopt a new OS via PC refresh, consider deploying Windows 8.1 on newly purchased PCs after you have completed the requisite testing — especially with IE 11.

• If you are engaged in the early planning phases of Windows 8 projects, pilot on Windows 8 if it makes sense, but switch to the Windows 8.1 beta as soon as possible. Plan to use Windows 8.1 for production deployments.

With Microsoft seeking to regain the confidence of Windows 8 detractors through Windows 8.1, Gartner views the update as a significant improvement over its predecessor - advising that businesses should consider Windows 8.1 at minimum for new devices.

Can Windows 8.1 win you over? Tell us your thoughts below

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