From The Forums: Neowin members offer impressions of Windows 8.1 Update 1

Microsoft made the mistake earlier this week of allowing anyone with Windows 8.1 to download the files for Update 1 thanks to a simple change in their registry. While this hole has since been plugged, this allowed many people to get the near-final version of the OS update.

That included some of our Neowin forum members and they have been writing up their hands-on impressions of the changes in Update 1 on our message boards. In a forum post called "Your observations on Windows 8.1 update 1 (a.k.a. Feature Pack)" the opinions seem to range from one extreme to the other.

The folks who believe Update 1 is a solid improvement for Windows 8.1 are represented by forum member "CJEric" who states:

You know, I'm really enjoying this update. Feels very smooth with nice little improvements across the board. Once again a step in the right direction, as far as I'm concerned.

His thoughts are echoed by Neowin member "mzta cody" who writes:

After the update the OS feels smooth, overall feels a bit snappier. Notice certain animations are quicker- minimizing and close in particular. I notice an almost imperceptible difference there. Disk usage after cleanup is about the same as pre-update.

Other forum members don't seem to like the update at all. That includes "Dot Matrix" who has written several posts on this particular forum thread. His main issue is that he feels Microsoft is not doing a good job mixing the Modern-Metro and desktop UI elements. In one post he says: 

I want Metro integration on the desktop, but what I mean by that is the Metro dynamics, the UX, etc on the desktop, not just shoehorned into a classic window, and certainly not having the taskbar appear over Metro apps. Quite disruptive behavior.

Neowin member "theyarecomingforyou" is in the middle regarding his view on the changes made for Update 1. He writes:

This update is a step in the right direction but it certainly doesn't eliminate the quagmire that is the Metro-Desktop integration.

Microsoft is expected to release the final version of Windows 8.1 Update 1 for free to Windows 8/8.1 users in early April and it should also be included in new Windows PCs out of the box around that time as well.

Image via ITHome.com

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61 Comments

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Ofcourse it takes some time to get used to it.

And UI mess, not really imho. It's getting more coherent, especially now most settings are condensed into the new MUI control panel.

I'm really interested in what stuff is more hidden than previously. The desktop and all its stuff is still there, and still works the same way. With the RMB options for the start button, its very easy to dive into the more granular controls of Windows.

And for a lot of people the new start screen is a blessing. No more pegging around in layers of folders of the start menu. Nope, just an icon. Click it and start the application.

Again, and also in respons to Cosmocronos: Win8 was butchered by the common pro-apple tech sites, like Wired, TheVerge etc
As was the Surface hardware. There was one site that destroyed a Surface because they wanted to see how much force the kickstand could hold. How is that journalism??

This beating trickled down to the public , and Win8 became the new Vista.
The biggest mistake MS made when Win8 came out was the lack of help for the transition to Win8.
No tutorials, no helpfiles, nothing. That, on top of the slaughtering that was done online, didn't help the first year of Win8.

With Win8.1 (boot to desktop etc.) there's no need for startmenu apps or alike, unless you really want to hold on to the past. In that case use Win7, untill Win9/10/11 is more to your liking. ;-)

well im finally got a new pc with windows 8.1 and i spent almost 2 hours sorting out the UI mess.

every single thing its more hidden or complicated, in the end i just get classic shell and disable all the metro stuff. some things like administrator account cant use metro apps its ridiculous and counter productive.

Microsoft should let user decide what they want and while 8.1 its the path to the right thing, all this option and features should be there in the first place.

personally, I liked it the way it was.
this 'complying to a small group of nagging users' doesn't help the rest of us.

MUI was clean and simple, now it's becoming as cluttered as the desktop :-(

Dutchie64 said,
personally, I liked it the way it was.
this 'complying to a small group of nagging users' doesn't help the rest of us.

MUI was clean and simple, now it's becoming as cluttered as the desktop :-(

Out of curiosity: how have you determined that the people who did not like the original release are a minority?

This is the first version of windows 8 that I can use the start screen without getting annoyed. Still have no use for metro apps on my desktop though. Would be nice if the taskbar was always visible too though

I guess I'm not using/seeing most/all of the differences, but I have only had the update for a day or so and I haven't used the machine that much in that time. Glad it wasn't the ridiculous 8.0 --> 8.1 type update method.

One thing I'm interested to know is, how much of what they're doing to Windows 8 now is actually work that was planned for the long term anyway, and how much of it is listening to user feedback or back peddling.

My worry is that Microsoft had a vision - and regardless of whether you thought it was a good one or not (I personally am not a fan!) - they had a vision, and a direction they wanted to go. If a lot of these changes are actually now 'ideas by committee' and bolting stuff on that they never planned for, I do worry that the product will become an even bigger mishmash and be even more confusing as an overall product.

It will be interesting to see how it al pans out though and I do look forward to trying the update. I've been running 8.1 for a while and I certainly like it better than 8.0, but still remain to be convinced by Windows 8.x generally.

Going from Windows 8 to 8.1 solved an immense amount of laptop problems for me. Bought an ASUS laptop with Windows 8 and was about to return it until I installed 8.1 preview (or something called like it) on it. Became smooth and pleasant to use after that. When RTM came out did fresh install and have been happy ever since. Look forward to update 1 coming in April, nice to look at all the good things and gripes people are talking about.

Windows 8 looks and feels like a beta test. These changes are what should happen during a beta. Maybe they will have been sorted out by Windows 9.

I wonder that Is there any UI & UX designer in MS or Does anyone in MS try to test their developing build ?

If they try to test or there is any UI & UX designer, they know how arkward it is and think that it is really shameful to announce this as windows's newly update.

My laptop updated to 8.1 with Feature Pack since build 17025 which is full of bugs. Login screen took a while, and seems unstable. But in build 17031, it seems stable, faster, and somehow, I don't like how MSFT get rid the right-click bar on Start Screen.

But, overall, I think, if MSFT want to keep Desktop mode, MSFT should change all of desktop icons to Modern version. Just an accessory, but it'll be nice.

I love it no issues on my part granted I can't help but feel like it's a Band aid I'll be happy for windows 9 windows 8.1 is in it's ugly transition period

fastcat said,
If there is no start button they can shove Windows8 up where the Sun does not shine.

Windows 8 has several start buttons, Windows 7 only has one.

DaveBG said,
yet none of them works nearly as good as the one in 7...

How does a start button being in the exact same place not "work nearly as good" as the one in Windows 7?

It's a button, on the taskbar, with the Windows logo. How is the button in 7 different to the one in 8.1? Is it because it doesn't have a blue orb?

DaveBG said,
well for one it brings unusable , slow and ugly UI that blocks the entire screen ...

As opposed to a tiny list that can't take advantage of large screen real eastate, and can only list programs in a single list with no categories in tiny 16x16 icons?

DaveBG said,
well for one it brings unusable , slow and ugly UI that blocks the entire screen ...

beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't see how the Start screen is either unusable or slow. Having said that, personally I prefer using the "All Apps" Screen instead - especially now that the "show more apps" option has been added - so I don't have to manually manage the tiles.

DaveBG said,
well for one it brings unusable , slow and ugly UI that blocks the entire screen ...

No, it brings up a fully functional start screen (who cares if the screen is blocked when you're trying to start a new app?). Sounds like you've never bothered to realize you can fully customize the Start Screen to be exactly what you want, or ever explored Start Screen search. And it's every bit as fast to use as the old, un-scalable Start Menu.

has Microsoft finally got round to updating the base installs? or is it still a case of install windows, windows updates, windows updates, windows updates, windows 8.1, windows updates, windows update 1 etc etc

the reason i ask if that my pc is full of rubbish and it needs a fresh install

What do you mean by "base installs"? Do you mean if you buy it online and download it do you still get Win8? They only sell Win8.1 now online and that's what gets downloaded. The TechNet/MSDN images were updated to Win8.1 as well back when it came out. Any further updates including this upcoming one will have to be downloaded subsequently of course.

Romero said,
What do you mean by "base installs"? Do you mean if you buy it online and download it do you still get Win8? They only sell Win8.1 now online and that's what gets downloaded. The TechNet/MSDN images were updated to Win8.1 as well back when it came out. Any further updates including this upcoming one will have to be downloaded subsequently of course.

ah damn ok, I thought they would have put a system in place where you could buy a licence and then download the latest iso with all the updates and what not inside.

Microsoft needs to take a cold, hard look at what they're doing here. Windows 8 went from the square peg and round hole co-existing, to shoving the square peg into the round hole.

I don't know. It's more like they took plastic pegs, one round and one square, put them next to each other, and then microwaved them until there was one single plastic blob.

Dot Matrix said,
Microsoft needs to take a cold, hard look at what they're doing here. Windows 8 went from the square peg and round hole co-existing, to shoving the square peg into the round hole.

More conflicting t'han co-existing in W8 IMO...
Anyway in Update 1 you can disabled the Taskbar in Metro.

Cosmocronos said,

More conflicting t'han co-existing in W8 IMO...
Anyway in Update 1 you can disabled the Taskbar in Metro.

I know you can disable it. It's still changes that should never have been made.

Dot Matrix said,

I know you can disable it. It's still changes that should never have been made.


Why not? You do not like it? Do not use it. I like it, I use it. Windows dominates because it has always being flexible, customizable and therefore appeased the widest possible audience.

Cosmocronos said,

Why not? You do not like it? Do not use it. I like it, I use it. Windows dominates because it has always being flexible, customizable and therefore appeased the widest possible audience.

Because shoehorning Metro into the classic desktop in this manner is not the right way to go.

Dot Matrix said,

Because shoehorning Metro into the classic desktop in this manner is not the right way to go.

A respectable but subjective opinion; an approach focused on Purism usually doesn't help sales and, again, the way it is implemented in Update 1 does not affect the ones who do not like it. It is a valid approach as an Academic argument but not as a feasible commercial strategy.

Dot Matrix said,
Microsoft needs to take a cold, hard look at what they're doing here. Windows 8 went from the square peg and round hole co-existing, to shoving the square peg into the round hole.

Obviously they have taken a "cold, hard look" and realized the colossal failure they have created and are now trying to fix it for broader acceptance.

Dot Matrix said,
Microsoft needs to take a cold, hard look at what they're doing here. Windows 8 went from the square peg and round hole co-existing, to shoving the square peg into the round hole.

With Windows 8, they took a Square peg put it on the round whole and then beat the crap out of it with a hammer and then showed the user and said "See! It fits perfectly!"

With 8.1 and 8.1 update 1 they are slowly shaping the square to make it more round so it fits better with the round hole.

Because modal absolutists don't want co-existence - they want one mode. The vast majority of the critics of Windows 8+ are centered around two features - no Start menu and ModernUI. The want the Start menu back and ModernUI banished to tablets and touch-screen devices - they see NO usefulness for ModernUI on hardware that doesn't support touch. Never mind that quite a few users have pointed out that ModernUI works just as well without touch - in a lot of cases, it works even without a pointing device - however, their minds are made up.

It is no longer an issue that can be dealt with by logic.

PGHammer said,
Because modal absolutists don't want co-existence - they want one mode. The vast majority of the critics of Windows 8+ are centered around two features - no Start menu and ModernUI. The want the Start menu back and ModernUI banished to tablets and touch-screen devices - they see NO usefulness for ModernUI on hardware that doesn't support touch. Never mind that quite a few users have pointed out that ModernUI works just as well without touch - in a lot of cases, it works even without a pointing device - however, their minds are made up.

It is no longer an issue that can be dealt with by logic.

Actually Microsoft should have been listening to the "vast majority" in the first place and they might not have found themselves in this OS mess they are in today.

With Update 1 the Charms Bar doesn't work sometimes. Nor does the taskbar on the Start Screen. I believe it happens sometimes after I use Defraggler. Lame.

Jose_49 said,
Are you using a start menu hack such as startisback? Disabling it will make things work normally again

No, I don't use such things. I stay stock.

The only thing left that I would like added is a choice to be able to pin programs being installed to either (or both) the Start screen or the Desktop. Too many programs still don't have proper installers for Win 8.1 that provide a selection menu of shortcut placement. Microsoft could smooth this out in a future update. Even if all new programs gave a choice, most customer's use the older versions they already own. So, Microsoft could make Windows 8.x give users a choice of where to pin shortcuts during installation, It's not too hard to create a desktop shortcut from the program's folder, or to pin onto Start from the All Apps screen. But, I have dozens of customers in their 70's and 80's that would appreciate an easier, straightforward, way for them to do this. I talk them through it on the phone and ask them to take notes. They often wonder why Microsoft makes pinning a newly installed program so tedious. Creating a shortcut that you want at the time a program is installed is really the only real complaint that I hear now from actual customers using Windows 8.1.

Edited by seeprime, Mar 9 2014, 9:37pm :

Guys having trouble getting the Taskbar to show up:

If you move your cursor to the bottom of the screen, the UI allows you a chance to grab a scroll bar, to scroll left and right. But if you move it FURTHER downward, the UI understands this as a request for the Taskbar, and shows it. You may not be able to do this in a VM, since the display area is a fixed size, effectively trapping/bounding the cursor.

Regards,
Jacob

So should I hold out on W7 and wait for W9 or upgrade to W8 regardless?

In the process of a personal build.

eddman said,
How about installing windows 8.1 in a VM and try it out for yourself; or maybe install it on your new machine, when it's done, and re-format if you didn't like it.
We can't tell you what to use.

You can even download a evaluation version, here: http://technet.microsoft.com/e...699156.aspx?ocid=wc-tn-wctc

Sorry, what I meant was, is it worth buying or waiting for W9?

I have a few machines at home running 8.1, just wasn't aware of W9

mk1990 said,

Sorry, what I meant was, is it worth buying or waiting for W9?

I have a few machines at home running 8.1, just wasn't aware of W9

Just wait for 9 and hope for the best.

mk1990 said,
Sorry, what I meant was, is it worth buying or waiting for W9?

I have a few machines at home running 8.1, just wasn't aware of W9

If you've already been using Win8.1 you should know whether you find it worth buying. If you plan to wait for Win9 I'd say it'll be at least another year or year and a half before you get to see it, so decide accordingly whether you're willing to wait that long.

They probably won't do that until Win 8 Apps can be windowed and thus re-sized. I think they are hesitant to fix the taskbar in place while Apps are to the front and being used because it could likely overlap content.
In fact at this point, I'd think they might want to make the taskbar opaque instead of leaving it the only UI bit still using transparency.

What has been done un Update 1 is extremely useful on the desktop - forex flipping Xbox Music up on screen, setting something, then returning to the desktop is a doddle compared with 8.1 and very intuitive with a mouse in-hand. And it has taskbar-thumbnail playback controls - win-win!

I would definitely not want to be seeing the Taskbar during tablet usage. Considering Windows 8 promotes hybrid devices, the self-hiding Taskbar is good for now.

It is safe to install on your hardware ONLY if you have made a backup first, an image of the OS itself most ideally.
It is NOT safe if you have not backed up Windows 8.1 prior to installation. The risk is small, but real.

I like windows 8, it is not perfect but with each update ms has done they are improving the experience. now with the latest spring update they are doing small thing to improve the user experience on the desktop. They have also done a lot of under the hood stuff to make this os hum along, its very fast, its still not perfect but with each release it is getting much better. The next update should be around the October timeframe, whether that is 8.5 or 9 we will not know yet.