At its Build conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer officially launched Windows 8.1 in his opening keynote address. A preview version of the update is now available to anyone who wants to download it.
PCMag's Michael J. Miller reported, "At its Build conference for developers in San Francisco today, Microsoft showed off the next version of Windows 8.1. CEO Steve Ballmer and Windows head Julie Larson-Green didn't quite apologize for the Windows 8 but certainly indicated that the company understood that a lot of things needed to be changed."
FOX News quoted Ballmer, who said, "If I was to put it in coffee terms, [consumers said] why don’t you go refine the blend? Make it easier to start applications the way we’re used to."
Pedro Hernandez with eWeek added, "More than a collection of improvements and new features, Windows 8.1 is representative of Microsoft's rapid release cadence—a theme Ballmer emphasized as he showcased the operating system update. Windows 8.1, which will be available as a free update later this year, addresses some issues that have proven unpopular with some Windows 8 users, notably the touch-centric tiled Start screen."
The Guardian's Tim Anderson summarized some of the OS's key changes, noting, "The Start button will be a point of familiarity for new users, but its main benefit is the enhanced administrative menu (known as Win-X because of its keyboard shortcut) which pops up if you right-click, including an option to shut down. Users who want to avoid Modern apps have other new options, offered if you right-click the taskbar and choose properties. Here you will find 'boot to desktop,' the ability to list desktop apps first in the Start screen when sorted by category, and an option to default to the 'All apps' view in Start."