The Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be made available for free on 8 April 2014

Microsoft has officially unveiled the features that will be introduced in the Windows 8.1 Update 1.

There are a number of user-facing enhancements, which make it better suited for use on non-touch screen devices. Some of these have been requested by customers.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 is available to download now for MSDN subscribers and will go on general release on 8 April. For more details of how to deploy this update in the enterprise, visit the Windows blog.

1. Default boot to desktop on non-touch devices

Traditional PCs and laptops which don’t have a touchscreen and will not boot directly to desktop with the 8.1 Update. This is a useful feature for business users who are unlikely to be using the Start Screen with their legacy applications.

Windows 8 - Desktop

2. Enhanced legacy app & MDM capabilities

Microsoft had added an Enterprise Mode Internet Explorer (EMIE) and improved Mobile Device Management (MDM).

EMIE brings Internet Explorer 8 compatibility to Internet Explorer 11 so companies can run legacy web-based apps in the latest version of Windows.

MDM functioanlity includes the ability to add whitelists or blacklists for Windows Store apps, URL filters, and Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer settings.

The Windows 8.1 Update also supports low-end specification machines – with 1GB of RAM and 16GB HDD. Microsoft has also revealed a 64-bit verison of Windows will be available for the Intel Atom chipset.

3. Pin Metro apps to the task bar if you want

A crucial feature is the ability to pin Metro-style applications to your desktop taskbar. Not only does this mean you can access them without having to go the Start Screen, but it also means they open up in the desktop.

4. New power button and search icons in top right on Metro

Not all users are aware you can start typing on the Start Screen to initiate a search – so Microsoft has added a little icon in the top right hand corner.

This is accompanied by a little power icon, which makes it quick to reboot or shut down your PC. Pressing the power button remains the most convenient way to put a computer to sleep.

5. Close apps with close and minimise buttons

When Metro apps are opened in the desktop – pointing the mouse at the top of the app will reveal the traditional options to close the app or minimise it.

6. Right click on app icons for more options

A right click on a Live Tile will now bring up a set of comprehensive options, including the ability to run the app as an administrator or turn the Live tile of

7. Store is pinned by default in the taskbar

The Windows Store app is pinned to the taskbar by default so you can get apps from the desktop.

8. Windows tells you when new apps have downloaded

Newly downloaded apps don’t automatically appear on the Start Screen interface and it can be hard to locate them. To find them, users have to go to the “All apps” list. Windows now tells users that apps are available to use.