August 12th, 2013, 21:15 PM
Microsoft tweaks Windows 8.1 again to help new users
Although most of the big changes in Windows 8.1 were announced in June, Microsoft is making a few more adjustments before shipping the update to users.
The changes appear in a leaked build, Build 9471, of the near-final version of Windows 8.1, as tested by The Verge. Along with the return of the Start button, better built-in apps, and more options within the modern-style interface, the changes should smooth out the learning curve of Windows 8.
In fact, Russian site PCPro claims that a related build, Build 9478, has now reached the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) branch, which could indicate that Windows 8.1 will soon be on its way to OEMs.
Within Build 9471, Microsoft’s built-in apps such as Mail and Calendar now display a narrow bar along the top or bottom of the screen, with three dots on the right side. These dots signify additional menu options, which you can view by swiping from the top or bottom of the display, or by right-clicking on the screen.
It’s a subtle tweak, but one that lets users know when more options are available in an app. It also brings some continuity with Windows Phone, which hides menu options behind a “...” button. Hopefully third-party apps will be able to make use of this feature. Of course, you’ll still have to swipe or click to see what those options are.
The other tweak to Windows 8.1 takes a more in-your-face approach. In certain built-in apps, Windows 8.1 will remind users to swipe from the right bezel to open the Charms bar, which includes a Start shortcut and other options. It’s unclear, however, when this reminder will appear, and Microsoft needs to walk a fine line between helpfulness and intrusiveness.