windowseverywhereAn update for Windows 8.1, scheduled for release this spring, will include a series of additional changes designed to make the operating system friendlier to people using keyboards and mice on traditional desktop computers.

Microsoft confirmed the plan and talked about some of the changes during a briefing at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today. As shown in a series of recent leaks, the changes include activating a title bar when mouse users scroll to the top of the screen in a “Modern” Windows app, and a Windows taskbar when they scroll to the bottom.

The idea is to make it easier for keyboard-and-mouse users to navigate apps in the touch-friendly Windows 8.1 interface. Many traditional Windows PC users have been reluctant to upgrade to Windows 8 or 8.1 because of the big changes in the user interface that were designed to accommodate tablets and touch screens.

Microsoft Windows executive Joe Belfiore, who made the presentation in Barcelona, outlined the changes in a blog post. He wrote, “We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users. We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard. Don’t worry, we still LOVE and BELIEVE IN touch… but you’ll like how much more smooth and convenient these changes make mouse and keyboard use!”

As detailed in the recent leaks, the update is also expected to make Windows 8.1 boot directly to the traditional desktop, bypassing the new Start screen by default on non-touch screen machines. With the release of Windows 8.1 last year, Microsoft added that boot-to-desktop capability as an option, but not as a default.

Other changes include the appearance of a power and settings buttons on the Start screen. Belfiore, who has extended his product oversight to Windows as part of Microsoft’s unified operating system group, also confirmed that Microsoft will make it easier for its hardware partners to build lower-cost Windows machines. Bloomberg News reported at the end of the week that Microsoft is reducing the price of Windows 8.1 for tablet and computer manufacturers by 70 percent, to $15, for devices that sell for less than $250.

A Microsoft slide captured by tech site AnandTech at the event confirmed that Microsoft will lower its requirements for these low-cost machines to as little as 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

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  • Mason

    Users have been abundantly clear on this and Microsoft just will not listen. Quit with the half measures and go back to the Windows 7 interface. Save the live tiles for tablets and phones.

    • Voodoo

      users have indeed been abundantly clear… they don’t want traditional PCs they want tablets. I have a Surface Pro that I can use as a touch device on the go for quick casual stuff and when I want to sit down and do real work I can connect it to my high res 27 inch monitor and use my keyboard and mouse and use photoshop or lightroom. I have one device not two. It is incredibly easy and quick to use whether I am using the new touch interface or not… people complained about windows 95 too, they didn’t understand the start menu at the time yet all of those changes ultimately lead to windows 7… and now 8. Move on.

    • Bobby Edwards

      Perhaps people who have problem with anything new, but me I like the way Windows 8 works, and even though I have two touch screen machines, most of the time I do not use them. There is nothing hard about using Windows 8 with a keyboard and mouse, if you want the desktop then click the tile, or hit the Windows key.

  • cyclical01

    Still don’t understand why this is such a big deal for folks to figure out. It really is not all that difficult. If you are fixated on mouse/keyboard, learn a few shortcut keys, or just go to desktop mode and find what you need through that interface. The only thing I will agree on is that MS could have provided clear tutorials in the beginning (i.e. in 8.0), however Windows 8.1 now includes a help and tips tile that walks you through everything. At some point it needs to be a partnership of sorts and the longer people CHOOSE to REFUSE to learn new things, the faster they will be left behind as the world moves on without them.

    • Ex-MSFT

      Ahh, the voice of a MSFT employee. I am very, very busy running a company. I don’t have the time, nor the need to “learn new things.” I’m trying to get my work done as efficiently and quickly as possible. A mouse and keyboard are what enables that. I don’t want to touch my screen. That is a colossal waste of time and it is for playing games or other businesses I’m not in.

      I use two win 7 machines and, when I get a minute to read or play a game, an iPad. The iPad is not in the remotest sense of the word a productivity device.

      • Bobby Edwards

        I use a mouse and keyboard all day long too, yet I do it on a Windows 8 machine with no problems. If you could not figure it, then you most likely never knew how to work Windows 7 either.
        Even the apps on the modern UI, work just fine with a mouse and keyboard.
        BTW I have two machines, a tablet, and a laptop that have touch, but I only use them when going to meetings.

      • Joey Speriolli

        Best get with the program. If you own a business and cannot adapt, say hello to struggles in the near future. Bitch and complain all you want, Microsoft does not have to do anything for your business. Best switch to Mac now, god knows apple would never force you to switch architectures to stay up to date. LOL

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