Microsoft is preparing to launch an update to Windows 8.1 this spring and the leaks have already started to show the fruits of this labor. While not a major refinement, according to known information, like Windows 8.1, the spring update will bring quite a few enhancements that will make it easier for mouse and keyboard users to make use of the modern environment.
One of the rumored features for Windows 9 is the ability to run modern apps in a windowed environment. If you look at some of the leaked changes for the spring update in Windows 8.1, you can start to see how Microsoft will transition modern apps into a windowed environment.
With the latest leaks, you can see that modern apps now have an access bar at the top of the app that allows you to close or minimize the application. We have already seen that you can now pin modern apps to your desktop and the access bar at the top is the next logical step to allowing the apps to run on the desktop too.
If Microsoft does make this move, and we have no reason to believe it will not occur, it will be another step towards taking the modern environment and making it friendlier for those who use Windows with a mouse and keyboard. Further, while some might say it is a step backwards for the modern environment, it will certainly be a step forward for the Windows Store.
Why is it a step forward for the store? By allowing for modern apps to be windowed (which you can already do with ModernMix, disclaimer) it will likely boost the adoption of apps in the store by the end user. By making apps more accessible and easier to use outside of the modern environment and not in a snapped mode, it creates better options for using modern apps while using the desktop and reduces the jarring jump between desktop and modern environments when using the apps.
The addition of the access bar at the top is a relatively ‘small’ update but when you bundle it in with all of the other leaked features, the spring update is turning into be a large usability upgrade for mouse and keyboard users.