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There’s a lot to love about the original Windows 8 release, and obviously, there’s a lot to dislike as well. In particular, certain features were excluded and others emphasized, which led to the vast majority of users falling in love with the system and a small but vocal number making more negative feels known.

All of that is in the past with Windows 8.1, though. This is a Windows system that manages to pave over the potholes in the new road that is Windows 8. You get all the best of the Windows 8 experience with a few essential corrections, allowing you to get the best of Windows release in years.

The End of the Windows 8 Controversy with This Upgrade

So, what was it exactly that made users dislike Windows 8? In a few words: the loss of the Start Menu. For long-time Windows users, the Start Menu was a common but significant part of their Windows experience. It’s how they found their programs and sometimes their files. It was the first thing they clicked on when they opened Windows.

Instead of the Start Menu, Microsoft introduced a much faster and more direct way to reach apps: the Metro Tile design. This was sleek, and it allowed users to boot programs straight from the desktop.

Unfortunately, some users resented the change. Windows 8.1 corrects for that in the best way possible: it provides both options to the user. For those who want to go through the Start Menu, it’s now back and where it has always been. For those who like the new Metro option, it’s there as well and ready for use.

The Core Windows 8.1 Features

Aside from the harmonizing of the Metro Tile design and the Start Menu, there’s plenty of other features that come with a new copy of Windows 8.1. Here is a short list of some of the features new users will enjoy.

App-Focused Design

While this is somewhat covered in the Metro sections above, it’s worth pointing out that the whole original purpose of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 was to focus a Windows OS around the computer experience most users were focused on themselves: the app. The whole operating system is designed to maximize the ease of using apps and the capabilities of the user to harness those apps to get the most from their computing.

Be a Part of the Universal App System

One of the ways that Windows 8.1 focuses on apps in its design is providing the ability to work with universal apps. This allows users to get the same experience from apps on every device, adding a new level of connection between devices, all brought together through the app.

Switch Between Multiple Apps for Complex Work

Computer use is far less straightforward and straightforward than it used to be. Often, to work effectively, you need to be moving between different apps all at the same time. In other operating systems, this is a cumbersome process, but in Windows 8.1, it’s made incredibly easy, since you can work with up to four apps all at once on your screen, switching between them as you need with no slow down.

Open Apps from Within Apps

Another significant way Windows 8.1 speeds up the app process is by allowing apps to open other apps from within the program. You no longer have to close an app and open the other one, wasting time searching. You click on the link within one app, and the other will open for you.

Get What You Need from the Windows Store

Finally, on the app front, the Windows Store is far more integrated into Windows 8.1 than in previous Windows editions, so you can get the new apps you need, as well as other content, much faster.

More Flexible Interface Design Choices

If you don’t like the Windows 8.1 design out of the box, that’s no problem at all. Windows 8.1 is supremely customizable, particularly in its look. There are new themes and backgrounds available to let you find your personal style for your operating system.

A More Touch-Focused Use Experience

One of the other groundbreaking elements of Windows 8, which 8.1 preserves, is the touch-focused user experience. Increasingly, we live in a touchscreen world. Phones operate by touch, tablets as well, and increasingly more laptops and desktops are joining in. If touch has become such a crucial navigating element, it only makes sense for it to be central to how you work with your operating system. With Windows 8.1, users can navigate their way through the operating system with the touch of a finger.

Bing-Based Autocomplete

Autocomplete can be a lifesaver for those who are trying to type quickly, but everyone has experienced the comical and sometimes annoying mistakes that come with most autocomplete systems. Windows 8.1 has solved this problem by connecting its autocomplete to Bing. Now, results are more up-to-date with common spellings and expressions thanks to the power of the Bing search engine, leading to far fewer mistakes.

New Searching Capabilities

Another search improvement is found for the system itself. Searching can now incorporate all the power of the internet. Search a name, and you may get photos and a Wikipedia page. Search a place, and you’ll get suggestions, directions and more. It’s a far more powerful and useful system that you can swipe through until you find the results you’re looking for.

Popular Media Programs Make a Comeback

If you were missing Windows Photo Viewer and Windows Media Player in previous Windows editions, miss them no longer. They’re back in Windows 8.1, providing you an even higher quality user experience than the earlier editions did.

Fingerprint Access and More Security

Biometrics are the future of computer security, and Windows 8.1 is right there with improved fingerprint capabilities. There is also the ability to hide your files through a particular kind of encryption called Transparent Device Encryption.

Introduce 3D Printing to Your Device

While it doesn’t come set up out of the box, Windows 8.1 can connect your device to 3D Printing. If this is something you’ve been interested in getting into, this is the operating system for you.