What’s new in Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update?

We periodically release updates for Windows to include new features, the latest security protection, and the best drivers and software. Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update include improvements to make Windows more familiar and convenient for devices that use touch and mouse input and to make Windows available on a wider variety of devices, so you have more to choose from. Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update also include security and performance updates, and they must be installed for your PC to receive any future security updates for Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.

Getting the update

If you're already running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update are available for free through Windows Update. To see if you’re running the latest update, see Which Windows operating system am I running? Otherwise, to install the latest update, see Install the latest Windows 8.1 Update.

Easier access to your favorite apps and key controls

  • Power and Search buttons on the Start screen. These buttons appear in the upper-right corner of the Start screen next to your account picture. You'll be able to quickly and easily shut down your PC or search for things right from Start. (Some types of PCs don't have the Power button on Start. You can shut down your PC using the Power button in the Settings charm instead.) For more info, see Shut down (turn off), sleep, or hibernate your PC and How to search.

    Search and Power buttons on the Start screen
    Search and Power buttons on the Start screen
  • All open and pinned apps appear in the taskbar. If you like using the desktop, you'll see both desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store in your taskbar when they're running. You can also pin any app to the taskbar so you can quickly open or switch between apps from the desktop. For more info, see How to use the taskbar.

    Several apps listed in the taskbar
    Apps in the taskbar
  • Access the taskbar from anywhere. When you're using a mouse, you can see the taskbar from any screen, including Start or a Windows Store app. Move your mouse pointer below the bottom edge of the screen to show the taskbar and then click an app to open or switch to it.

  • Go to the desktop when you sign in, instead of Start. If you spend more time in the desktop, you can sign in (boot) directly to the desktop instead of the Start screen. And if you want to sign in to Start instead, you can change this setting at any time. For more info, see Desktop.

More familiar mouse and keyboard options

  • The Minimize button, Close button, and taskbar are more available with your mouse. Your mouse works more consistently anywhere in Windows. Move your mouse to the top of the screen to see Close and Minimize buttons in any app. Move your mouse down to the bottom of the screen to see the taskbar from anywhere in Windows. For more info, see How do I close an app? and How to use the taskbar.

    Close and Minimize buttons in an app's title bar
    Close and Minimize buttons
  • Right-click an app tile to see more options. If you’re using a mouse and you right-click a tile on Start, you’ll see a context menu next to the tile that shows what you can do with the tile.

    A context menu next to a tile after the tile was right-clicked
    A context menu when you right-click a tile

Simpler to find new apps

  • Discover apps in new ways. The Windows Store is pinned to Start and to your taskbar by default, so you can easily discover new apps. When you use the Search charm, Bing Smart Search includes apps in the suggestions and the search results.

  • Remember what apps you recently installed. After you install new apps, Start includes a message in the lower-left corner of the screen, pointing you to the Apps view so you can see what you recently installed.

    The lower-left corner of the Start screen with a down arrow and the message that apps have been recently installed
    The message about new apps on the Start screen

More PCs and devices to choose from

If you want to buy a new PC, Windows 8.1 Update runs on a wider variety of devices, so you'll have more to choose from, including budget-friendly laptops and tablets. For more info, see our list of Windows PCs.

Benefits for businesses

For businesses customers, Windows 8.1 Update includes additional features that improve the compatibility of Internet Explorer, extend policy settings for mobile device management, and more easily install first-party apps for easier deployments across businesses.

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