As I’ve already done a review of every other Windows Upgrade/Update that’s happened recently, it only makes sense that I’d do the same of Windows 8.1 Update, also known as Windows 8.1 Spring Update, Windows 8.1 Update 1, or as I like to call it, Windows 8.1.1.
If you want to hear my whole journey from Win7 to Win8 and on, you can read my original post, The Largest Leap here!
Upgrading to Windows 8 – Part 4: Windows 8.1 to 8.1.1 – “Finger Clickin’ Good”
Much like with 8.1, this update was surrounded by rumours and opinions long before it was released. And from what I’d heard, I liked it. Although the pre-release reviews were fairly mixed, I was really excited. Just like 8.1 before it, 8.1.1 adds a few extra tweaks and touches, this time nearly exclusively aimed towards the traditional desktop/laptop (mouse & keyboard-based) user.
To be truthful, by the time I actually got round to writing about the 8.1 update, most of the changes and modifications had become normal to me. And I’m sure, from the types of things that they’ve changed and added in 8.1.1, this will soon be the case again.
Gettin’ it on!
Unlike 8.1, the update to Windows 8.1.1 was delivered through Windows Updates as a number of separate generic security update you wouldn’t give a second look if you didn’t know something was coming. I, like last time, was waiting at midnight for it to roll through to me, but it didn’t happen. I had to wait 2 handwringing days, wondering why-oh-why it hadn’t become available for me yet. Finally it arrived, and I was told I needed to reboot, only to find that in fact it hadn’t done it yet, and still had another whole gig of update to download and install.
Eventually it all installed, and without a hitch. It didn’t need any involvement from me, and took no longer than any other Windows Update. It also didn’t wreak any of my setting like when I went to 8.1. In fact, the only changes it made are, pretty much, for the better.
It’s All Good!
The first thing I noticed when my computer booted back up after the update was the Windows Store pinned to the taskbar. This is an example of one of the new features that’s been added in 8.1.1. You can now pin apps to the desktop taskbar! Not only that, but any open apps show up in the taskbar, as if they were desktop programs. It’s a nice, handy touch that makes it just that little bit easier to switch between desktop stuff and app stuff, without having to think about it too much. You can even pull up the taskbar from within apps, by hovering you mouse down the bottom, like if it was on auto-hide.
Apps now also have a title bar at the top that auto-hides, so it’s only visible when you move your mouse to the top of the screen. And it’s a good thing that it does, because it looks really ugly! No matter the app, or color scheme, it’s always black, so it stand out. It tells you the name of the app, and has a small minimise and close button in the right-hand corner, as you’d expect. You can still drag apps around, or minimise them by swapping them out through the hot-corner, but for die-hard desktop-ians who were confused by all this “full-screen app stuff”, it’ll be a great comfort.
The biggest change for me that came with updating to 8.1.1 was a much-needed, long-sort-after improvement to the search functionality. And I’m not talking about the ability to click a button to open it from the Start Screen now. If you’ve read any of my previous Windows 8 or 8.1 posts, you’ll be familiar with the sob story I’ve been suffering through. Ever since I upgraded to Windows 8, the search function has given me nothing but trouble. And that’s a big deal because one of the main rationalization that Win8 is the same as Win7 is that you can just search for any program you need, so you don’t even ever bother looking through a bunch of silly (Start) menus. But for me, that hasn’t been the case. Whenever I’ve searched for something, it’s given me horrible, meaningless, useless, irrelevant results.
But since I’ve upgraded to 8.1.1, it’s been swell. No only does it offer actually useful, relevant programs in the Everything category, it even searches my files, like it’s suppose to. And it’s quicker!! Sometimes it still does take a few moments, but even then it’s faster than before.
But It Ain’t Perfect
You know how I said before that it didn’t mess with any of my settings this time; well, that’s mostly true. The one thing it did undo was the removal of all those stupid folders from the “This PC” (or “My Computer” for those of us living in the past) folder. It was a simple fix though; I just had to rerun the registry fix I got from the EightForums. At least it didn’t lose my Oblytiles this time.
There is one flagship change in 8.1.1 that that I rather hate, and that’s the new context menu you get when you right-click on tiles on the Start Screen. It’s just so out of place. It doesn’t match the Metro UI, and it’s too far removed to be treated like desktop. Plus, it looks so bland. I rather see the old touch menu at the bottom with nice icons to represent each option. You can still pull it up by hitting the spacebar, but it defeats the purpose a bit.
My only other gripes are things I’m still hoping and waiting for Microsoft to add, like the ability to snap more than two apps side by side, on one screen. Oh, and maybe it’s just in my head, but ever since this update arrived, I think I’ve noticed more freeze ups and slow downs, and just general patience moments with my PC. It might just be my computer…It is getting older now…
There are a whole bunch of other changes and additions like a power button on the Start Screen, along with various others things that 8.1.1 introduces but for the most part, unless they were things you were wishing for, you probably won’t notice them. It’ll all just blend into a new, more functional Windows.
In essence, the update to Windows 8.1.1 is just another Windows Update, like any other. Sure, it brings with it a few extra features, and welcome underlying tweaks. But at its core, it’s no different to any other Patch Tuesday. That said, you should definitely do it. Just like you should always apply any Windows Updates as soon as you get them.