Microsoft makes it easier to use traditional peripherals, adds MDM policies and offers Windows 8.1 free to manufacturers of smaller tablets
Microsoft will release a Windows 8.1 update next week, bringing a number of usability, mobility and security improvements for consumers and enterprises, promising that the operating system will be easier to use with a mouse and keyboard.
The cosmetic changes see the power and search buttons appear at the top right hand corner of the start screen, while Windows Store apps and bookmarks can be added alongside desktop applications on the taskbar, which now appears on every screen.
The Windows Store application is now pinned to the taskbar by default, although this can be removed.
Windows 8.1 update
More mouse capabilities have been added, such as right click options on the Start screen and the ability to close or minimise Windows Store apps, just as you would a standard desktop application. Internet Explorer 11 has also been updated so it can adapt to whatever device it is being used on and whether it has a touch interface or not.
For enterprise users, Windows 8.1 update adds Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE), which allows companies to use their existing web apps with Internet Explorer 11 and offers more Mobile Device Management (MDM) options for administrators.
These include additional policies, no matter what MDM platform a company is using, such as the whitelisting and blacklisting of applications in the Windows Store. Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS).
The company has also made moves to expand the reach and affordability of Windows devices by making changes so the operating system can now run on machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB hard disk storage. It will also make the operating system free for manufacturers of tablets under nine inches, alongside a free one year subscription of Office 365 as it seeks to get its services in the hands of more users.
The last major update to the operating system, Windows 8.1, brought a number of new features, including the return of the Start Button, but not the much-missed Start Menu. Microsoft will hope that improved support for a mouse and keyboard will resolve one of the biggest complaints about the platform.
Windows 8.1 update is available for MSDN subscribers from today, and will be rolled out to Windows 8.1 users through Windows Update, while Windows 8 users can download it from the Windows Store.
Microsoft made the announcement at its Build 2014 conference in San Francisco, where it also made available a release candidate of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2, bringing the prospect of universal Windows apps a step closer.
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