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Windows 8.1: The great compromise

Brad Chacos | Sept. 12, 2013
The RTM's out, and it shows that Microsoft listened. The Modern UI plays better with the desktop, and other improvements.

All that said, some people may not appreciate being bound so tightly to the cloud, nor to Microsoft. Conversely, if you've been burned by a rogue Windows update in the past, you might not like the idea of a dozen-plus apps constantly updating without warning. Be aware of your settings!

Bottom line
In all the ways that matter, Windows 8.1 is the operating system Windows 8 should have been, and a glimpse into what the Microsoft of the future could be.

Is it perfect? Nope. It doesn't even contain all the features we'd like to see. At its core, Windows 8.1 is still a tablet interface mashed together with a desktop UI, a funky hybrid of old and new. The modern UI is still around; compromise runs both ways.

But Windows 8.1 makes Microsoft's formula more palatable—or at least, less bitter—for those who choose to make the leap. Windows 8.1 eases the transition for desktop diehards, granting PC enthusiasts the ability to shun most of the tablet-oriented bits. New tutorials and UI hints will greatly help displaced adoptees. And if you do decide to wade into the live tiles, you'll find that the modern UI environment in Windows 8.1 Improves vastly over that of Windows 8. As an update, an apology, and a lesson in compromise, it's stunningly successful.

Microsoft still offers little here to win over desktop diehards who snarl at the merest mention of the word modern, but if you've already made the switch, you have absolutely no reason to avoid the free update when it hits the Windows Store on October 17.


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