Despite a hefty marketing push from Microsoft, the company’s latest operating system, Windows 8, has yet to catch on with consumers or businesses.

Windows 8.1Among the top complaints users and others have had about the OS is the fact that the interface is radically different from what Windows users are familiar with. Most drastically, the once-ubiquitous Windows Start button is gone, replaced with a tiled Start screen similar to what can be found on Microsoft’s mobile devices.

On top of that, most people and organizations that had already upgraded to Windows 7 are happy with that operating system and see no need to upgrade again.

However, Microsoft hopes that will change after the release of Windows 8.1, a free update to Windows 8 currently being offered in a preview version.

While the updates offers more smaller tweak than it does massive changes, many of them should be good news for those with complaints about the initial Windows 8. Here are some of the Windows 8.1 features most likely to bring hold-outs on board:

windows 8.1blue1. The Start button is back

Microsoft responded to the widespread complaints and re-introduced the Start menu in Windows 8.1 – sort of.

It’s not exactly the same as the button in previous versions of Windows. There is a Start button in the familiar place, but it’s really just a shortcut to get to the Start screen.

Still, the return of the button should make things a little easier for Windows veterans.

2. Other interface tweaks

While many of the changes contained in Windows 8.1 are subtle, there are a few tweaks to the interface that might help alleviate some of the most common complaints about Windows 8.

One that’s sure to be well-received is the new ability to boot straight to the desktop rather than the tiled Start Screen.

From the Start Screen, users will also be able to click a button, or on devices with touch screens, swipe down, to access a menu listing all of the applications they have installed. This list can also be used as the default Start Screen display instead of the tiled layout.

3. Simpler shut down

Another common complaint about Windows 8 is that the OS makes what were once simple tasks overly complicated to complete.

For example: shutting down the computer. In the original Windows 8, users must first hit windows key + C on their keyboards to activate a slide-out menu, and then click “Settings”, then click the Power button to see the option to shut down.

However, in Windows 8.1, users just have to right-click the Start button for the option to shut down.

4. Powerful search

One of the biggest overhauls made to Windows 8 is in the OS’s search feature.

Windows 8.1’s new Smart Search integrates search results from nearly every possible location, including the Internet, local storage on the machine, files stored in Sky Drive and the user’s apps.

All of the results are neatly organized in a cohesive, easy-to-understand way.

5. Greater personalization

One of the main goals of Windows 8.1 is to give users greater control over their machines.

In line with that idea, one of the new options added to the Settings menu is aptly called “Personalize.” From there, users will be able to make a number of new customizations, such as the ability to use the same image as the background for the desktop and Start screen.

Users will also be able to do more customization of the Start screen itself and will have greater control over the size of the windows when they run two apps side by side.

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Article was contributed by Sam Narisi, veteran writer for PBP.  Connect with PBP onGlobal Philadelphia

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