In a post on the official Windows Experience blog, Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc has confirmed that the Windows 8.1 Update will become available on April 8—and that it will have all the desktop-friendly goodies the rumor mill teased. Among them:
- "Select devices" will get power and search buttons right on the Start screen.
- "Select devices" will boot to the desktop by default.
- The taskbar will let users pin Modern UI apps and websites.
- The taskbar will be come up on "any screen," including Modern UI apps, if the mouse cursor is moved to the bottom of the screen.
- In modern UI apps, moving the cursor to the top of the screen will bring up a title bar with close and minimize buttons.
- Right-clicking Start screen tiles will bring up a context menu.
- The Start screen will display a message in the lower-left corner when new apps have been installed.
LeBlanc says the Windows 8.1 Update will also cater to low-cost devices, enabling support for machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage capacity. He says those systems will "provide customers with the experience they expect from a Windows device without sacrificing performance."
You can watch Microsoft pimp all these improvements in the video below, which is presented by Joe Belfiore, the company's VP of Windows Phone Program Management and Design. (No, I don't know why they didn't pick one of the regular Windows guys for the video.)
It's too bad the Start menu won't make an appearance in this update. Last we heard, the menu's return was planned for a future patch. Still, Microsoft seems to be listening to us desktop users again, and that's a good thing.