Microsoft is set to officially unveil Windows 8.1 Update today, with all those already running Windows 8.1 to get the new version via Windows Update as a free download.
Although it brings a number of changes specifically aimed at desktop computers, Microsoft warns that computers running Windows 8.1 that won’t be running Windows 8.1 Update by May 2014 won’t receive any other patches and security fixes via Windows Update.
Basically, this means that Windows 8.1 Update is mandatory for Windows 8.1 users, so make sure that you’ll download it later today when it becomes available.
“Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)” the company said on the Premier Field Engineering blog.
Windows 8.1 users will thus be required to download Windows 8.1 Update as soon as possible, but not the same thing applies to those still running Windows 8. Instead, they can continue running the core operating system, but in order to benefit from extended support they will eventually have to move to Windows 8.1 Update at some point.
Windows 8.1 Update comes with plenty of improvements for the desktop, including options to pin Metro apps to the taskbar and thus allow users to launch them without first accessing the Start screen. At the same time, Metro apps are now displayed in their very own windows, with a title bar and close and minimize buttons, which basically enables users to control them with a mouse and keyboard easier than with a touch-capable device.
The Start screen also comes with a search box and power options which make it faster to reboot or shut down the computer, while shortcuts for the desktop Control Panel are placed all over the PC settings screen.
Overall, Windows 8.1 Update is a major pack of improvements designed by Microsoft for the traditional PC, so making it a required update for Windows 8.1 users could be a bit weird, especially because plenty of tablet computers, obviously focused on the touch capabilities of the operating system, are also running Windows 8.1.
Windows 8.1 Update will be rolled out later today along with the other Patch Tuesday fixes supposed to fix vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s products, including Office and Internet Explorer, so using your Internet connection you can automatically download them all with minimal user input.