Microsoft plans an update to its Windows 8 system to address some of the complaints and incorporate other feedback received since the radical makeover to the operating system came out in October.
Microsoft isn't saying yet when Windows 8.1 will come out, beyond later this year, although a test version was released Wednesday. It's a free download for existing Windows 8 users, available at http://preview.windows.com .
Here are highlights of the planned changes:
— Windows 8.1 will let users launch the operating system in a desktop mode that resembles the setup found in older versions of Windows. Before, Windows 8 users were automatically taken to a full-page startup screen that displays applications in a mosaic of interactive tiles instead of static icons.
— Microsoft isn't restoring the traditional start button on the lower left side of the screen, as requested by many users, but it is restoring a logo in that spot and will let users add favorite applications, such as Word and Excel, to a horizontal tool bar while working in the desktop mode.
— Windows 8.1 will lean heavily on Microsoft's Bing search technology to simplify things. As with Windows 8, the search bar can be found by pulling out a menu from the right side of a display screen. Rather than requiring a user to search categories such as files or apps separately, Windows 8.1 will make it possible to find just about anything available on the computer or on the Web with a single, comprehensive search.