Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update includes a return of the Start button

Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 update

Microsoft has released its Windows 8.1 update for its flagship operating system, to address criticism levelled at the original.

Users around the world can download the free update via the online Windows Store today and the updated software will also be available on new devices and as boxed software from tomorrow.

The new update gives users the ability to return to a traditional desktop interface, which was done away with in favour of a touchscreen-friendly tile system in the first release. The Windows start button has also been restored after pleas from users.

The update also includes gesture control with some apps, such as those for cooking, now able to be paged through without touching a screen; and improved links to Microsoft's Xbox game console.

Intriguingly, Microsoft also claims Windows 8.1 will provide native support for 3D printing, meaning it will have plug-and-play support for 3D printers, enable apps to seamlessly print 3D jobs and understand 3D file formats.

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