For users who have been running Windows 8, Thursday represented an opportunity to take advantage of a free update. With the much anticipated release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft provided a number of enhancements to the overall experience. For those of you who are not running the Enterprise version of Windows 8, you can go to the store, and the update will make itself very apparent in the form of an extra-large tile (screenshot provided below).
PRO TIP: If you’re not seeing the update option in the store, check out this page for more information.
How complicated is the update process?
The update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 should prove to be a painless experience. The update process performs a backup of all of your files, settings, and installed applications. Based on my experience, the installation time seems to vary based on the number of applications that are installed on your device and your internet connection speed (the update for Windows RT and Windows 8 are both over 2 GB). During the installation process, you will be asked to “register” the device to your Microsoft account. I have my cell phone registered with my Microsoft account, so I had to type in a code that was texted to me (this is a security feature that ensures the device is authorized to use your account). At this point, it was just a matter of waiting for the update to finish, which includes “restoring” those files, settings, and installed applications we talked about earlier.
Where are my apps?
With the original version of Windows 8, installing an application resulted in more tiles being pinned to your start screen. The start screen is meant to be a personalized dashboard, so pinning all of these files was really counterproductive in terms of providing the best user experience. This was especially true of applications that were installed outside of the Windows Store (from the desktop mode). With Windows 8.1, you have to manually pin things to the start menu. So, after updating, I would strongly urge users to go through and customize their start screens. If you are using a touch device, make a small upward gesture from the bottom of your start screen, and choose “Customize” from the app bar. If you are not running a touch device, you will simply right click on the start screen and the app bar will appear. Once in customize mode, you can create groups, rearrange tiles, resize tiles, turn live tiles on and off, and completely remove tiles from the start screen altogether. I highly recommend checking out all of these options, but for now, let’s focus on cleaning up some of these tiles. The great thing about the customize mode is that you can work with more than 1 tile at a time. With that in mind, select all of the tiles you no longer want to access from the start screen, then choose the “Unpin from Start” option.
PRO TIP: A list of all installed applications can be easily found from the Start screen by swiping upward from the middle of your screen to the top.
Share your experiences
There are a number of new features in Windows 8.1 (some more visible than others). My next article will cover strategies for making your Windows 8.1 experience more enjoyable. For now, be sure to take time to take advantage of this free update. And, if you’ve already updated to Windows 8.1, share your thoughts on the update in the comments. We’d love to hear what you think of the changes, and we’d be happy to help with any difficulties you run into.
Matt became the leader of our largest practice at Aptera in May 2014 after eleven years of experience in the industry and one year of experience at Aptera. He specializes in the development of cloud-connected mobile applications and serves on the planning boards of the M3 and Cloud Development Conferences. In addition to his expertise developing apps for mobile devices, he also has a strong background in enterprise-level web applications and enjoys presenting at local and regional events on different software development topics. When Matt’s not creating mobile apps or spending time with his wife and three children, he coaches baseball at Wayne Trace High School.