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Windows 8 Is No Longer Quite So Hostile To Mouse And Keyboard Users

Microsoft is going back to its PC roots with an update to Window 8.1.

Windows 8 was supposed to be Microsoft’s panacea for the mobile world. It’s user interface was simple with its Metro-based hubs and tiles and the whole system was supposed to be designed for touch. 

But Microsoft alienated some of its core users with Windows 8. Namely, the PC generation used to a mouse and keyboard (and a Start Button). Microsoft today made amends to those users with Windows 8.1 Update 1, designed to make it easier for traditional navigation with a mouse and keyboard.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, Microsoft’s Windows Phone product leader Joe Belfiore said that 40% of Windows 8 (tablets and PCs) devices sold in the United States were touchscreen devices. That is a respectable figure but leaves a large swath of Windows users with suboptimal user experience.

The “Task Bar” on the bottom of the home screen has updated to live on the bottom of the home Start screen. The Hubs and Tiles in the Start screen will now have the ability to resized through the mouse through a right-click.

The Windows Store has is being updated for mouse and keyboard users to make it easier to search and right-click for additional information. The search function within the Windows Store has been updated with automatic suggestions. For instance, if you want a pinball game, you can start typing the words and some pinball apps will automatically be suggested. 

While Windows 8.1 will now be easier for mouse and keyboard users, that doesn’t mean that Microsoft is abandoning the touch users that it has focused on in the last few years since the release of Windows 8.

“The work that we have done to make touch great is unaffected by these changes,” said Belfiore.

The Windows 8.1 Update 1 will available to consumers on April 8th.

Top image: David Treadwell by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

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