Microsoft won’t be officially releasing Windows 8.1 Update 1 until after their conference in April, but late on Thursday the company accidentally leaked the update to the public. Posted on USENET newsgroups, eager users were able to make a small registry change that made the updates show up in Windows Update, or download it all through direct links to Microsoft’s servers.
Most of the changes found in the Windows 8.1 Update 1 are said to be focussed on keyboard and mouse users, as we see a desktop taskbar placed above the Metro UI-style apps, and options that enable the user to minimise, close or snap Metro UI-style apps. The Redmond-based firm is also said to add a ‘shut down’ button on the Start screen for non-touch user machines. A new search button is also seen on the top-right corner.
The Windows Update method is tricky, as it involves tweaking a setting in the Registry. And while some newsgroups members report success using it, others say that Microsoft appears to have already blocked it, such that not all of the required updates appear in Windows Update any longer.
Separate packages are available for 32-bit x86, x86-64, and ARM versions of Windows – yes, even the unloved Windows RT gets to share the Update 1 wealth – so make sure you only download the ones for the architecture you need, and don’t try to mix and match.
The date on the update file corresponds with recent reports that Microsoft had finalized this release. It’s possible that there will be additional minor changes between now and April 8, when the update is scheduled for general release.