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A closer look at Windows 8.1: Multi-monitor Desktop hands-on

A week ago, Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Preview, an upgrade to Windows 8 that makes the new operating system a lot more usable for Desktop users, and users who prefer the mouse and keyboard over touch.

I’ve now been running the Preview for a week on a dual-monitor mouse and keyboard setup, and except for a couple of small bugs it’s a surprisingly large improvement over Windows 8.

If you’re a Desktop-oriented user who is thoroughly disappointed by the Windows 8 experience, or a Windows XP or 7 user who’s holding off on upgrading until the poor support for mouse and keyboard is resolved, watch the video below.

In the video I walk you through all of the major Desktop-oriented features in Windows 8.1, including the Start button and the ersatz Start screen (All Apps view), and a few new Metro features as well.

Should you be unable to watch the video, see our Windows 8.1 hands-on preview, and our in-depth look at the Windows 8.1 Desktop. Right, grab your popcorn...

The first 90 seconds of the video deals with the new Start screen, from 1:30 to 2:30 is SkyDrive integration, 2:30 to 3:40 covers the new app snapping/side-by-siding, and 3:40 to 6:00 deals with the resurrection of the Start button, and new Start screen configuration options.

Overall, you can see that the multi-monitor experience in Windows 8.1 is significantly improved. From being able to disable the hot corners, to booting straight to Desktop, to fixing the Start screen to your main display, to being able to drag Metro apps to any display, Windows 8.1 goes a long way towards making the Desktop and Metro more usable for mouse and keyboard users.

Power users and office dwellers should still avail themselves of some keyboard shortcuts, and you should certainly read through our extensive list of Windows 8 tips and tricks, but in general, Windows 8.1 will leave a much sweeter taste in your mouth than its predecessor.