MICROSOFT PREVIEWED the long awaited return of the Start Menu in Windows 8.1 during a surprise announcement on Wednesday, in a major update for its latest operating system.
On the stage at Microsoft's Build Conference in San Francisco, the Start Menu that combines the familarity of its predecessors with the live tiles of the Windows 8 modern user interface (UI) was met with whoops and cheers from the audience, which overshadowed the impending Update 1 for Windows 8.1.
The updated version of Windows 8.1 won't include the Start Menu initially, but it boots and resumes to desktop mode and is capable of running on PCs with only 1GB of RAM.
Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) has added an Enterprise mode with legacy support for websites that haven't been updated for later versions of the web browser. With Enterprise Mode enabled, system adminstrators can choose specific websites, such as intranet services, to re-enable website features and protocols that have been disabled in later versions for performance or security reasons.
This is clearly aimed at corporate Windows XP refusniks who have held on to the operating system due to the costs involved in rewriting web apps and intranet websites, in the hope of making Windows 8 a viable platform for business. This was the headline feature during the Windows 8.1 Update announcement at today's Build 2014 conference keynote.
In the much maligned Modern UI, tiles have been updated to be more user friendly for mouse and keyboard users, with minimisation and pinning to the desktop taskbar, and power, settings and search functions moved back to the main screen without swiping in.
Windows 8.1 Update will become available from 8 April through the Windows Update service for both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users, meaning that most users will find it nearly impossible to avoid.
The Start Menu will be released as a separate update soon. µ
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