Microsoft’s developer conference Build 2014 took place today. The keynote provided announcements about Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update. There are a number of enhancements coming to Windows 8.1 which continues to tweak the UI experience. These changes were introduced with the intent to improve the navigation experience for heavy keyboard and mouse users while keeping the touch interface intact.
Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE) 11 sounds like a great feature for organizations with legacy web apps. If a site requires an older version of Internet Explorer, EMIE allows you to list specific sites that get this enhanced version of backwards compatibility. It engages previous versions of ActiveX and other settings to emulate the older versions of IE while still allowing organizations to move forward with the latest operating system.
Microsoft also announced their new approach to universal Windows apps. The same app will play nicely on desktops, tablets, and Windows Phone operating systems.
The rest of the changes seemed mostly cosmetic, so I’ll run through the highlights quickly.
Modern apps will now show on the taskbar to enable faster switching between Desktop apps and Modern apps.
Modern apps have a minimize and close button if you go up to the top to make use more obvious.
The Start Screen was updated to include a power and search button in the top right and a Settings tile to make it more intuitive.
Right-click on a tile now brings up a context menu to allow pinning to the taskbar, Start screen, uninstalling, resizing, or turning on/off live tiles.
You may also Ctrl+click multiple tiles to select them and then move multiple tiles around by dragging the group where you want it.
Microsoft is making two changes that their accountants and developers should like. They are pre-pinning the Windows Store to the desktop taskbar by default so more people will get into the Store. They also have an indication at the bottom of the Start Screen to indicate if new apps have been installed. Since 8.1, all apps are not pinned to the Start screen automatically.
With not much notice, Windows 8.1 Update (KB2919355) will be available to Windows 8 and 8.1 users through Windows Updates next Tuesday on April 8th.
For more details, see the post on the Official Microsoft Blog or the Windows Blog or the Windows Experience Blog. For the IT Pro perspective on the Windows 8.1 Update, see Microsoft’s Springboard Series Blog post.
A screenshot was shown of a Modern-style Start Menu returning and windowed Modern apps. These are not coming with Windows 8.1 Update but may come available at a later date.