SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft on Wednesday released a preview version of an update to Windows 8, aiming to address some of the gripes people have with the company’s flagship operating system.
At a conference in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that the company pushed hard to get people to adopt a tile-based ‘‘Modern’’ user interface in Windows 8. Microsoft is now back-pedaling, making it easier to reach and use the older ‘‘desktop’’ interface.
‘‘Let’s make it easier to start applications the way we’re used to,’’ Ballmer told the audience of software developers.
Microsoft made the preview of Windows 8.1 available for free as a download.
Windows 8.1 will allow people to boot up in Desktop mode. There, they’ll find a button that resembles the old Start button. It won’t take users to the old Start menu, but to the new ‘‘Modern’’ Windows 8 start screen. Still, the familiar button may make it easier for longtime Windows users to get accustomed to the changes. A common complaint is that Windows 8 hides features and functions, and replaces buttons with gestures and invisible click zones that have to be memorized.