Microsoft has spared no time in revealing a host of major changes affecting Windows devices since the company’s annual Build developer’s conference kicked off in San Francisco yesterday.
Here are just five things we’ve learnt so far.

1. Windows 9 won’t be released any time soon
Many of those attending Build today expected Microsoft to preview Windows 9, the forthcoming successor to Windows 8. Those who hoped for news of the operating system were disappointed. We’ll have to wait a bit longer to know more about Windows 9, but there were plenty of other interesting revelations today.

2. The Start menu and desktop aren’t dead
Some of today’s loudest applause came when Microsoft’s executive vice president of Operating Systems Terry Myerson revealed a Start menu for the next update to Windows 8.1. The absence of a Start menu in both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 has frustrated both Windows users and developers. Today Microsoft revealed that the company has listened to consumers and critics, and won’t be killing off the Start menu after all.

Another major criticism of Windows 8 has been that it boots directly to the new Start screen, not allowing users to choose to boot to the traditional Windows desktop. Myerson today assured Build attendees that Microsoft was committed to keeping the desktop on Windows operating systems.

3. Windows Phone is getting its own digital assistant, Cortana
Microsoft debuted its own Siri-style digital assistant for Windows Phone 8.1 today, named Cortana. The service will compete with Android’s Google Now and iOS’s Siri. Though Cortana is currently limited to smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft today stressed its desire to make personalised services such as Cortana span across different devices. We can expect to see Cortana coming to Windows PCs and the Xbox soon.

4. Windows 8’s ‘Modern’ apps will become less modern
Windows 8 currently has two different types of application: traditional programs like those on Windows 7, and ‘Modern’ apps which have a different interface. Modern apps (previously called ‘Metro’ apps) haven’t been too popular with Windows 8 users, which is why Microsoft today announced the apps are to become less modern, regaining some of the features of legacy apps such as the ability to run them in the desktop, pin them to the task bar, and minimise them like regular programs.

5. A new Internet Explorer 11 update is available
While most of today’s focus was on Cortana and the Windows 8.1 updates, Microsoft also released an update to Internet Explorer 11 today. The browser, which is already available for download, runs on both Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 devices. A key new feature is the ability to sync favourites and tabs across devices, so the same tabs and favourites will still be available when you switch from a PC to a tablet or phone.