Microsoft's first major update to Windows 8.1 leaked onto the Internet the other night, giving users a fleeting chance to see what changes are in store.
The true launch date for the update is scheduled for April 8, but it was reported that the software pack was available for a window of several hours on Thursday night via Windows Update and through direct links to Microsoft's servers. It would seem that for once the company itself was responsible for the leak, instead of a no-named hacker looking for his 15-minutes of fame.
One report noted that the update contained six separate downloads, totaling 770MB with the majority of the changes designed to improve the user experience for non-tablet users. The vast majority of complaints concerning Windows 8 and the follow up 8.1 had to do with the fact that it was designed from the ground up as a tablet interface. Those using a non-touch method of interaction found themselves frustrated, but this fix seems to address some of these problems
It was found that Update 1 will offer new right-click mouse options and the search function will now be found on the start screen itself instead of having to swipe open the side menu. These are crucial changes and are directed at the correct user demographic, as most Windows 8.1 users are not connected to a touchscreen, and the vast majority of tablets and phones on the market use iOS and Android.
If what was discovered the other night is true, then it will coincide with what Microsoft has already revealed about the update.
At the recent Mobile World Congress Microsoft, vice president Joe Belfiore gave an update on Windows 8 adoption - 200 million downloads - and some insight into what the company will attempt with Update 1.
"We love touch," he proclaimed, and "we have no intent to degrade the touch experience." But he clearly wanted to placate legacy mouse-and-keyboard users: "Our measure is, Did we make things better for people without touchscreens?"
At the time, Belfiore said Windows 8 would be altered to work on lower-powered systems with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. This may have been a hint toward the news that it was mulling the introduction of a version of Windows 8 for Chromebook-like devices.
The rumored plan would have Microsoft putting together a bundle to include a less robust version of Windows 8.1 along with its Bing search engine. This would either be offered to vendors and consumers for free or at a low cost. One line of thought behind the move is that it will be used as an incentive to prod consumers content with Windows 7 into upgrading to Windows 8.1, which computer owners are avoiding like the plague.