The first major update to Windows 8.1 is targeted for release on March 11 – one of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesdays –according to a report by Mary Jo Foley. The timing of the update is designed to precede Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco this April, when the company is also rumored to be releasing Windows Phone 8.1.
The update is supposed to bring users the ability to pin Metro-style apps to their desktop taskbars. In addition, Paul Thurrott reports that the update will also add close buttons to Metro-style apps. Those moves seem like another compromise to allow users who don’t care for Microsoft’s new UI to use Metro apps while still being able to avoid the Metro interface as much as possible.
It seems like the precursor to adding the ability for users to float Metro apps in a window on the desktop, another feature that Microsoft is rumored to be working on. However, Foley said that capability probably won’t appear until a later update to Windows 8.1, or possibly the launch of “Threshold,” the codename for Microsoft’s next version of Windows.
In addition, Foley said that Microsoft may be working to further lower the storage and memory requirements for Windows 8.1 so that it can be run on lower-end tablets.
While the Windows team and Windows Phone team have been brought together inside Microsoft under the operating systems group umbrella run by former Windows Phone head Terry Myerson, this update probably won’t include any changes to the Windows APIs that would make it easier for developers to port their code from running on Windows Phone to running on a PC, though the report says that is something Microsoft is working on.
Instead, this update is designed to be enticing to business users who may be avoiding Windows 8 because of the radical changes that Microsoft made to its interface design.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.