Microsoft finalized its upcoming Windows 8.1 Update recently, but the company appears to be sharing it a little early today. While the software maker is expected to release the update officially in April, Microsoft has only detailed a few of the features in the update and has not yet provided an official release date. Links to download a final version of the Windows 8.1 Update, thanks to Microsoft’s Windows Update service, have been discovered. A series of patches are required to obtain the full update, but once installed the new desktop-friendly features are enabled.The update can be downloaded via a registry change, or through direct links, but we recommend waiting for Microsoft to officially release it through the normal Windows Update channels in April.
Most of the changes in the update are designed to appease keyboard and mouse users, with options to show Windows 8 apps on the desktop taskbar, the ability to see show the desktop taskbar above Windows 8-style apps, and a new title bar at the top of Windows 8 apps with options to minimize, close, or snap apps. Microsoft is also adding a shutdown button to the Start Screen for non-touch machines, with a new search button present across all machines.
Microsoft is also planning to automatically boot Windows 8.1 non-touch PC users to the desktop interface by default in this latest update, as long as they haven’t already changed the existing setting that allows you to bypass the tiled Start Screen. The software maker Microsoft is also tweaking the amount of disk space that Windows 8.1 utilizes. Alongside new license cost changes, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will allow PC makers to produce machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, a change that will help bring lower price points.
While the update is available earlier than expected, Microsoft is expected to release Windows 8.1 Update 1 to existing machines officially on April 8th, following the company’s Build developer conference in early April. Asked about the download, a Microsoft representative told The Verge: "We look forward to sharing details about the update soon."
Update: Microsoft has removed access to the download from its servers, but the update has been mirrored on various file sharing websites.