Late yesterday Microsoft pushed several optional updates to devices running Windows RT 8.1 and one of those updates, KB3033055, is what delivered the Windows 10 style Start Menu to those still on Windows RT 8.1 devices.

This update was being referred to as Update 3 for Windows RT 8.1 by several sites including us but that is not the term Microsoft is using for it. The title of the knowledge base article indicates it will simply be referred to as Update for Windows RT 8.1 feature improvement.

Microsoft had previously confirmed that Windows RT devices would get some form of an update relating to Windows 10 but there were not a lot of details available at that time except for the speculation that the new Start Menu would be incorporated somehow. 

It turns out the KB3033055 update brings two Windows 10 centric elements to Windows RT 8.1.

One of the feature improvements, the Windows 10 style Start Menu, is one of the most visible aspects of this update.  You will notice however, that scrolling is horizontal on the RT Start Menu compared to desktop version of Windows 10 which is vertical. This is due to the types of controls used on the desktop version of  Windows 10 not being available on Windows RT 8.1.

The other feature, although many will not consider this a feature, is user images will now be displayed in circles in the following areas of Windows RT 8.1:

  • The Logon screen
  • Start screen and Start menu
  • User Accounts Control Panel
  • The immersive dialog box that appears when you add a new local account or Microsoft Account (MSA) to the system or when you link an existing local account to an MSA.

By the way, this specific change not be modified or turned off.

I have been able to confirm that installing this update does not modify the Start Screen experience on Windows RT 8.1 so it will not change over to the same Tablet Mode that is in Windows 10. For many that will be very welcome as Tablet Mode on Windows 10 is considered to be a subpar experience compared to the Start Screen on Windows RT.

Of course, this is an optional update for Windows RT 8.1 so it does not have to be installed and you can hide the update to keep it from re-appearing in Windows Update.

I am away from my own Windows RT 8.1 devices so I will have to explore this update first hand later this week.

For those of you who have installed the update what do you think?