After Microsoft released Windows 8 late last year, the world promptly handed the company a big, fat punch list. In response, Microsoft vowed to listen to feedback and make improvements. With the recent release of Windows 8.1, it’s apparent that the company kept its promise. Tweaks include: a Start button; the option to show the desktop on login instead of the Start screen; the ability to disable hot corners; plus improved and additional stock apps, including Help + Tips, which provides tutorials on using the OS.

A welcome addition: the Windows 8.1 Help + Tips app

A welcome addition: the Windows 8.1 Help + Tips app, which offers user tutorials

These changes have not gone unnoticed, especially among tech publications. A significant number of recent reviews have been positive, which is good news for Microsoft. Here’s a rundown of what they’re saying:

GIZMODO In his review, Gizmodo’s Eric Limer writes: “That doesn’t mean Windows 8.1 is just some Windows 8 rebrand. Tucked away beneath the now-familiar veneer of the desktop and Metro screen are pockets of beautiful new functionality. You just have to dig a little.” (By the way, be sure to read Limer’s entire review; his clever writing style is refreshing.) Read: Windows 8.1 Review: Little Changes Make a Big Difference

ARS TECHNICA Peter Bright of Ars Technica offers an extensive review of the improvements Microsoft made for Windows 8.1, as well as a quick overview of what was wrong with Windows 8.

Writes Bright: “In many ways, I think Windows 8.1 is what Microsoft should have released instead of 8.0. With the more complete touch interface and the greater concessions to desktop users, Windows 8.1 makes Microsoft’s case—that one operating system really can do it all—much more convincingly than Windows 8 did. Whatever kind of computing devices you use, Windows 8.1 will fit the needs of those devices better than Windows 8.” Read: Windows 8.1: What a difference a year makes

THE VERGE In this piece, Tom Warren looks at Windows improvements according to major categories: UI changes, Start button and Snap views, search, SkyDrive sync and Internet Explorer 11, and Windows Store apps. He’s optimistic about the future of Windows: “Windows 8 users will certainly welcome the changes with 8.1, and they should help clear up some confusion in some areas,” Warren writes. “If Microsoft is able to keep this pace up and integrate its products and services into Windows 8 even more in future, then there should be a lot to look forward to. Read: Windows 8.1 review: It’s take two for Microsoft’s ambitious operating system

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