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Windows update: Microsoft finally kills XP, refreshes 8.1

Tomorrow is a much bigger day for Microsoft than many experts dare to admit.

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This month’s edition of “Patch Tuesday” will see two important moves from Microsoft. Firstly, Redmond will shift the final security patches for Windows XP and Office 2003 before their developers move onto more meaningful endeavours. Secondly, and more crucially for those not living in the past, the long-awaited “Windows 8.1 Update” will arrive to users’ universal chants of glee.

Therefore Windows 8.1, at least in its current guise, will also face a type of symbolic defenestration.

In addition to cumulative patches bundled alongside it, the Windows 8.1 Update will also deliver a “collection of refinements designed to give people a more familiar and convenient experience across touch, keyboard and mouse inputs,” the Windows Experience Blog claims.

Non-touch device users will finally see their most loathed issues and features addressed. The update should also give the OS a deeper level of familiarity, one of the problems preventing users from upgrading from older OSs. Or at least that is the primary issue, in theory.

Aesthetically, these include the option of avoiding the infamous Modern UI start screen by booting directly to the desktop, the welcome return of the start menu tied to its companion start button, and the introduction of a new app management system, to name but a few.

Windows 8.1 is highly polarized OS, featuring the Modern and traditional UI environments, but the update aims to change this, meshing the two more effectively.

There is, however, a catch. You’ll need to install this prerequisite patch to receive the update, or any future updates thereafter. Microsoft claims that the Windows 8.1 Update will become “the new servicing baseline for Windows 8.1.” Therefore, if you fail to install the package, you will be unable to receive any subsequent patches, starting from May’s Patch Tuesday onwards.

The update intrinsically alters how the OS deals with future patches.

But worry not, Microsoft is not pulling support for 8.1. Yet. In fact, if XP is anything to go by, 8.1 should be alive for another decade. For those still running the legacy OS, it would be a good idea to grab the patches for your system as well, or upgrade to a supported OS.

With a meagre market share of under 5%, Redmond hopes that the Windows 8.1 Update will draw users away from its dated OS and to its new flagship.

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