Windows users now have one good reason to rejoice. Microsoft is bringing back a feature loved by users but was excluded from Windows 8—the Start Menu. Windows 8.1 Start Menu: In with the Old October 17 is the date users should wait for as this is the day Microsoft will launch its Windows 8.1 update.

The Start Menu has been a crucial aspect of Windows from 1995. When Windows 8 was released in 2012, people were surprised to find this particular part missing. The removal of the Start Menu resulted in confusion and as expected (though maybe not by Microsoft), the move did not sit well with users, individuals and businesses alike. This prompted the tech giant to finally bring back the feature through the aforementioned update.

Windows 8.1 Gives the Start Menu Back to Users

Microsoft took its time before giving the public what it wanted. Sometime after the release of Windows 8, the sales of PCs dropped significantly and the company made a move to bring some old features back, but not the Start Menu. One thing that was brought back was the Start button, that which shows the user a screen of tiles because he or she was directed to the ‘all apps’ view of the Start screen of Windows 8. Microsoft also gave users the option to start the PC with a desktop view that resembles that of Windows 7. About a year after the Start Menu was pulled out, the iconic feature makes a highly-anticipated re-entrance.

Windows 8.1 – Going Beyond the Start Menthe thing that people are most excited about regarding the update is probably the return of Start Menu, but Microsoft is not rolling out a new version of the OS with just that feature. This update comes with other feature improvements and bug fixes. In fact, there are 20 feature enhancements in store for users. One in particular that is bound to draw interest is the improvement of Internet Explorer 11. It is made faster and more fluid for better user experience.

 The new and improved IE 11 for Windows 8.1 will prove to be a treat for users, especially since the release of a Metro-style Firefox for Windows 8—which was supposed to arrive on December 10 this year—has been moved to January. Firefox 26 for Windows was created with Windows 8 in mind: the browser sports a touch-friendly, tiled look that is based on the design of the OS’s user interface. According to Mozilla, the reason for the delay is a drop in average team velocity.

Aside from IE, other features enhanced in Windows 8.1 include Skype, SkyDrive, and the Bing apps (Finance, News, Sports, Travel, etc.). The Price You Will Pay for an Update The good news is that Windows 8.1 is offered free of charge for Windows 8 users. The bad news is that everybody else needs to pay for it.

Windows 8 users can download the update for free straight from the Windows store. There are two versions to be released that can be used for the installation of Windows 8.1 on a new PC or for the upgrade of an older version of Windows. One version, that which is for Windows 8.1, costs about £75; the other is worth about £125. The latter is designed for Windows 8.1 Pro, which showcases other features for business

. In the United States, a professional upgrade of Windows 8.1 is made available for $99 (approximately £65 in the UK). One can only install Windows 8.1 on a computer that does not have an operating system or as an upgrade to a Windows 8 or Windows 7 PC. However, users of Windows 7 need to install all their programs again following the upgrade; this is because support extends only to file transfer and documents. Unfortunately for users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and older versions of Windows, upgrading to the latest version of the operating system is not possible. Windows 8.1 does not support the aforementioned versions.

It is not really a surprise that Microsoft did not create Windows 8.1 to support previous versions of Windows. This surely is not news for users. Research shows that users would not mind such limitation because only a small percentage of consumers still use the likes of Windows XP. Computers that still use Windows XP are probably too old to upgrade. As for PCs that are relatively young and can still be upgraded, shifting to Windows 7 is not too much of a problem. Nonetheless, general consumer behavior suggests that people choose not to upgrade their machines—they simply prefer to buy new ones that already has the latest version of Windows on them.

Betty Fulton penned the article above. The author, who is interested in all things related to technology and gadgets, often writes for PC Doc Computer Repairs in Edinburgh.