Windows 8.1 Update Offers Enhancements for Business

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that its 8.1 update for Windows will start rolling out on April 8. The new version includes features targeted at enterprises, plus some designed with consumers in mind.

Windows 8.1 was released in October. The update becomes available Thursday for MSDN subscribers, and, starting April 8, for Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 users through the Windows Update service and for others through Windows Store.

With mobile devices assuming such a large role in a company's planning, mobile device management has become a key concern for many IT departments. The 8.1 update offers some additional MDM controls, such as the ability to set app whitelists or blacklists through the Windows store, create filters for Web sites, and utilize Enterprise Mode in the updated Internet Explorer browser.

Detecting Devices

Enterprise Mode allows Web sites and Web apps that had been built for IE 8 to run in the current IE 11, so that older devices running 8 and newer ones running 11 can run some of the same apps.

IE 11 will now detect the Windows device on which it is running and whether it has a touchscreen or a mouse/keyboard, and then adapt its presentation accordingly.

Improvements in the user interface include ones intended to appeal to the many people inside and outside of businesses who still use keyboards and mice. For instance, minimize and close windows functions now reside at the top of a screen, and taskbar at the bottom.

Power and Search buttons will now appear in the upper right corner of the Start screen on some devices, next to one's account picture. This enables a quick shutdown, or a search from the Start screen. Additionally, selected devices will now boot directly to desktop as a default setting.

On the taskbar, desktop apps, apps from the Windows Store and favorite...

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