By Tom Warren
Microsoft’s first update to Windows 8.1 has leaked today on various file sharing websites ahead of its March debut. The early build includes a number of changes that Microsoft is making to improve the keyboard and mouse experience in Windows 8.1. The most obvious change is a new title bar for Microsoft’s Windows 8-style apps, allowing you to close, minimize, and snap apps side-by-side with a mouse. It occupies a small amount of space at the top of all “Metro” apps, and it appears to be included as more of a helpful option for mouse users to quickly navigate apps.
Similar improvements have also been made to the Start Screen, where right clicking on Live Tiles now produces a context menu with options to resize, unpin, and more. Microsoft is also bringing the search button and a shutdown option straight onto the Windows 8.1 Start Screen with update 1. Search simply brings you to the regular sidebar interface, while the shutdown option provides a simple drop-down list for restart, shutdown, and sleep. Both options are what you’d expect, but there’s still no sign of the time and date being drawn directly onto the Start Screen or within the new tile bar for “Metro” apps.
Elsewhere, Microsoft has added a control panel link into its PC settings section, and the company is also making some minor desktop tweaks. A new option in the desktop taskbar settings lets you show Store apps in the taskbar. It simply lists all Metro apps and provides the usual window preview when you hover over the apps. Interestingly, if you activate a Metro app from the desktop then the taskbar remains on top of the app until you start interacting with it. It’s not clear if this is by design or a bug, but you can’t activate the taskbar by hovering at the bottom of a Metro app.
There’s no other significant changes in Update 1, and the version that has leaked was compiled around three weeks ago on January 14th. Microsoft is expected to release the final version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 on March 11th, ahead of the company’s Build developers conference in April.