Developers force Microsoft to release Windows 8.1 early

Windows 8 screenshot
Image caption The update to Windows 8 will make it easier to switch between interfaces

An outcry by programmers has forced Microsoft to give them early access to Windows 8.1.

The furore came after Microsoft announced that developers would get the new release at the same time as everyone else.

That marked a change from established practice which saw certified developers get early access to new versions.

Microsoft has now given coders access to 8.1 so they can start testing and developing before the public release.

Programmers who subscribed to Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN developer services historically got early access so they could ensure code for their own applications was not broken by the new versions of Windows.

Microsoft's strong developer community were unhappy with the change Microsoft made with 8.1, particularly as the new version made changes to its appearance and the way programs can work with it.

Windows 8.1 is due to be released to the public on 18 October. The version that will ship to customers has been ready since late August.

One of the more visible changes in Windows 8.1 will be to make the start button more obvious.

As Windows 8 was largely created to serve touchscreen devices such as tablets, the start button was far less prominent in the original release of the software.

Windows 8.1 will see the button partially restored and allow users to choose whether to stick with a touchscreen display or revert to the more familiar control system seen in desktop and laptop computers. A mouse click on the lower left corner of the screen will let them switch between the two interface styles.

In addition, the start button will always be visible when working with the desktop version of Windows 8.1.

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