A number of readers have recently asked me about the viability of my comments about the Start menu in Windows 8 for Dummies Quick Reference. There are a number of stories that make it seem as if Microsoft is adding the Start menu back into Windows 8.1. You’ll see article titles such as, “Windows 8.1 set to bring back the Start button” online. It’s only when you start reading the details in the article that you realize that the title is misleading at best—someone with Microsoft marketing might well have written it. The fact is, if you want Start menu functionality in Windows 8 or 8.1, you still need a third party product such as ViStart. I discuss the updated features of this product in my ViStart Updates post.
In order to get a better idea of just how Windows 8.1 changes things, you need to read articles such as “Leaked Windows 8.1 Build 9374 disappoints Start button fans.” I’ll also be providing updates as readers ask specific questions and more information about Windows 8.1 becomes available. Remember that Windows 8.1 won’t be released until late this year (assuming Microsoft remains on schedule).
So far, my take on Windows 8.1 is that it doesn’t change much—it mainly fixes problems or addresses fit and finish issues. For example, a lot of people rightfully complained about being able to display only one or two apps on screen. (After all, this is a step backward compared to Windows 7.) Even with Windows 8.1, the ability to view more apps on a single screen will only work when your device has sufficient resolution (a minimum of 1366 pixels in Windows 8). The new version is supposed to let you view up to four apps at a time, but it sounds as if you need a high resolution display to do it. It does appear that you’ll at least be able to split the screen as long as you have a 1024 × 768 display, but this really isn’t much of a help.
There are some window dressing changes as well, which I won’t address until I see an updated beta. In addition, Windows 8.1 could work on other platforms. The point is, the Windows 8 book you have in your hands now should work just fine with Windows 8.1 as well. I’ll provide updates on the blog after Microsoft releases Windows 8.1. In the meantime, don’t believe all the rumors you see online. Windows 8.1 is an incremental release, much as the version number states. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns about the book content at [email protected].