windows-8-1

Microsoft officially released its first major update to Windows 8 on Thursday, appropriately called Windows 8.1. The software is available around the globe and is free for existing Windows 8 users, while others running Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP can pay to install $119 to upgrade to the latest version of Windows.

Users now have the option to boot directly to the desktop, skipping Microsoft's livetile-heavy interface, previously known as Metro UI. That said, the livetile UI also has additional designs and colors and can be configured with new widget sizes. Up to four apps can run simultaneously side-by-side in Windows 8.1, and there's a new Bing Smart Search engine in addition to plenty of Microsoft's homegrown applications. SkyDrive and Skype are also pre-installed, and a new "Movie Moments" video editing application is also available.

Microsoft's update should appeal to most users, especially those who really want their computers to default to the old style desktop. The update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 measures about 2.8GB in size, however, so be sure to reserve plenty of time.