So i've been using the Windows 8.1 preview since June, I honestly must admit i've been really impressed with it over the last few weeks. A lot of little changes have been made which I think give both the power user and desktop user a much better user experience. The start screen now has the option of displaying your desktop background and not just a solid colour with a random pattern. I have personally really liked this addition, when you access the start screen it no longer feels like your been thrown out the desktop in to some horrible overlay. I also like how you can now have larger tiles that are 4x the size of a normal tile, and smaller tiles which are 4x smaller then the normal tile. The larger tiles are great for having stuff like the weather app just sitting there and smaller tiles for apps you just want easy access to. My Windows 8.1 Start Screen: My Original Windows 8 Start Screen: The only thing i like better about the Windows 8 start screen is you didnt get horrid rainbow colours for the tile backgrounds, like this: I REALLY do think that needs to change before the final 8.1 build, when you have loads of desktop apps pinned to the start screen it really does look terrible. As you can see from my 8.1 screenshot i have used a 3rd party app to give desktop apps a proper PNG icon which some better contrasting colours, and rename them so not all is lost. Although some nice improvements have been made, the startscreen lacks some extremely basic customisation functionality, however apart from the rainbow coloured icons its a step in the right direction and a nice improvement. The Desktop: Same good desktop we had in Windows 7 and 8, however the start button is back! The start button is great for getting about in remote desktop sessions, it was rather annoying trying to get an invisible tile to appear in Windows 8 when connected via remote desktop, so you can get to the start screen with ease in remote desktop sessions. Its also easier to access the right click menu, which now also provides you with shutdown, sleep and restart options. I use this all the time to put my computer to sleep, another small but really useful improvement that saves messing about with the long process of doing the same with the chimes bar. You can also disable the upper left and right hot corners when on the desktop, which again i like as it used to annoy me a lot as i was forever antecedently hovering over them. You can also boot directly to the desktop which is nice too, as i personally dont really use the start screen all that much. And of-course the option to use the desktop background on the start screen. So do i like Windows 8.1 over Windows 7? Thats a hard one... I would say I like and dislike things about them both. When it comes down to it not that much has really changed for desktop users since Windows 7 was released in 2009. The desktop theme was certainly a lot nicer in Windows 7 and I given the choice would probably still prefer the start menu even after using Windows 8 for a year. However i do like the improved explorer and task manager on Windows 8, that does make Windows 7 feel a bit dated in comparison after using the improved versions in Windows 8. Windows 8 / 8.1 mainly offer under the hood changes and support the newer technologies e.g. 3D printing, NFC and of course is more tablet friendly. The biggest achievement with Windows 8 is one the end user will never really notice: PC, Tablet, Mobile and Xbox all converging and running the Windows kernel. Overall I would say i'm pretty happy using Windows 8.1, i no longer use Windows 7 at work then on my home PC wonder why ive not formatted and gone back to Windows 7. Microsoft have listened and made a lot of small improvements which contributes to a nicer overall user experience. If i had to choose i would now have Windows 8.1 over Windows 7. Windows 8.1 is everything Windows 8 should have been from the start.