Windows 8.1 Update

At the moment the annual Microsoft BUILD conference is currently under way in San Francisco in the United States.  This is a time when Microsoft typically unveils major changes to its platforms and other major products – this conference sort of replaces the old Platform Developer Conference (PDC) from ye olden days. 

A highlight this year (amongst many) has been the release of a major Windows 8.1 update which remedies some of the criticisms which have been levelled at the Windows 8 platform since its release.

From the associated KB article which compliments the update:


  This update includes the following new features and improvements:

  • Enables a more familiar mouse and keyboard functionality for modern apps and
  • Improves the web application compatibility of the Internet Explorer 8 emulation
           mode in Internet Explorer 11 F12 Developer Tools.
  • Increases performance and reliability when you use multi-display configurations for
           portrait-first device experiences.

Which doesn’t say a whole lot.. I’m going to try and find out more about what’s in the update.

The update is currently available to MSDN/TechNet subscribers but will be available to all from April 8.  The version available via MSDN subscriptions is actually a zip archive of a bunch of Windows Update modules, as you can see below.  There are also full ISOs that contain Windows 8.1 + the update, if you plan on a fresh install.


Installing them, one by one, takes a while – particularly the update which is over 700mb in size.

image image

Once you finish – after a reboot per module!  You should have the latest edition of Windows 8.1.  I only finished the installation process this morning, so I haven’t had much time to poke around.  The “boot straight to desktop” feature can be changed by right clicking the taskbar and opening the properties dialog:


I’m still not sure if this update is supposed to implement the rumoured new start menu or not – from my initial experience, the “star button” still brought up the old formerly-known-as-metro user interface.


One frequently requested feature — the return of the Start menu button — isn’t part of the new Windows 8.1 release. But it is coming back…some day. Microsoft said it is planning a future update that will bring back a more traditional Start Menu features, as well as the ability to run Modern apps in a window on the desktop.  – Source

So I guess we’ll wait a little longer for the return of the start menu.


A quick look at the version dialog – we’re officially running at Ver 6.3 (Build 9600) although the copyright seems out of date (2013?).

I’m also hearing of a term called “Modern apps” to describe Metro apps.  I’m not sure I like that term..

Further Reading

Here’s more on the Windows 8.1 Update:

The KB attached to the main update (KB2919355) can be found here.

Hints on how to verify you have legitimate copies of the ISOs/update modules.

Here’s some more info on the changes:

About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified Enterprise Architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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