5 Big Changes in Windows 8.1

Part of the Windows 8.1 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Windows 8 created two separate worlds: the touch-oriented Start screen and the mouse-bound desktop. Windows 8.1 tries to blend those two worlds a little more evenly. Here are some of the biggest changes and improvements in Windows 8.1:

  • Windows 8.1 brings back the Start button. Windows 8 dropped the Start button, a mainstay of Windows for a decade. To eliminate one source of confusion, Windows 8.1 puts the Start button back in the screen's bottom-left corner. However, clicking it doesn't fetch the familiar desktop Start menu. No, the Start button simply returns you to the Start screen, that tile-filled launching pad for programs.

  • It's easier to stay on the Desktop. To stay on the desktop, right-click the desktop's Taskbar, choose Properties, and click the Navigation tab. There, you can choose to head straight for the desktop when signing in. You can also disable the top-corner pop-ups and show desktop programs first on the Start screen.

  • SkyDrive offers easy online storage. When you first sign in with a Microsoft account, Windows asks permission to begin storing your documents on SkyDrive, the Microsoft storage space in the cloud. SkyDrive, your new storage cubbyhole on the Internet, now appears in every folder's Navigation pane, making it easier to manage your files in the cloud.

  • Searching is more convenient. The Charms bar's Search icon no longer searches through your currently viewed app. Instead, it searches everywhere: your computer's files and settings, as well as the Internet itself.

  • Libraries have gone poof. Windows 8.1 drops libraries from the Navigation pane, although they can be turned back on by right-clicking a blank portion of the pane and choosing Show Libraries from the pop-up menu.

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Windows 8.1 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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