Microsoft Windows 8.1 is a computer operating system that runs in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode and uses a dedicated boot management system and a modular component design. Windows 8.1 is also designed to run on multiple hardware platforms alongside the traditional desktop computing environment, including on tablet-style devices that use touchscreen interfaces.
Windows 8.1 was not the first Microsoft operating system intended for use on tablets and touchscreen computers, as its immediate predecessor Windows 8 implemented many of its design features such as the tile-based Start menu interface used in Windows 8.1. However, Windows 8.1 improves upon these features with additional functions, including swiping and sliding gestures for common tasks. Windows 8.1 also re-introduced the traditional Windows Start button that was removed from Windows 8 along with several design changes intended to address common critiques of Windows 8 when it was used on a typical desktop computer without a touchscreen.
Windows 8.1 also features several additional capabilities not previously implemented in Windows operating systems centered around network functionality. One of the primary network-centric elements of Windows 8.1 is the integrated SkyDrive client that interfaces with Microsoft's proprietary cloud storage solution. Windows 8.1 also features improved network awareness features to improve function in wireless environments and a Wi-Fi hotspot feature to allow computers to share their wireless Internet connections with other wireless devices.